The Curse of Confidence. ~ Khaleelah Jones

Via on Jun 11, 2012
smellysocks

A few weeks ago I got sick of hearing and reading about Samantha Brick’s highly controversial article in the Daily Mail, “There are downsides to looking this pretty: Why women hate me for being beautiful.”

Instead of continuing to smile weakly or vaguely nodding along in conversations referencing the article, as I had done, I decided to give in and actually read it. In the article, Ms. Brick chronicles the numerous times men have shown her preferential treatment or gone out of their way to be nice to her and how women, consequently, loathe her.

At one point, she even states that her female friends are too intimidated to introduce her to their partners, as evidenced by the fact that she’s never been asked to be a bridesmaid in anyone’s wedding. She insists that being attractive isn’t all it’s chalked up to be specifically because of how difficult it is to create bonds with other women who are jealous of her appearance, claiming that she has few close female relationships because of her looks.

Now, a bit of context: before reading the article, I had conjured up an idea of what I expected Samantha Brick to look like. After all, anyone who has the guts to publish an article extolling their many physical attributes—especially online, where hell hath no fury like the faceless and critical masses with keyboards at their disposal—has to be gorgeous and glam, right?

In my mind, anyone who would shout about her good looks from the Internet equivalent of a rooftop would have to look like a Victoria Secret model. Of course, as one would expect, after her article was published, the backlash began immediately. Not only were people calling Ms. Brick conceited and vain, positing that her lack of female friends stems not from her looks but her arrogance, many critics went a step further, discussing whether she should even be considered pretty at all.

I simply couldn’t believe that, and assumed that the critics were merely saying so in an effort to humiliate and chastise Ms. Brick’s confidence. You can imagine my surprise when it turned out Samantha Brick, while certainly attractive, looks similar, if not slightly more smiley, to many middle-aged women—at least, to me. So what’s so different about Samantha Brick, if she’s not a Gisele Bundchen doppelganger?

What could possess someone who looks fundamentally like most middle-aged women to come out and say something like this?

Confidence.

When amazing, yet ordinary (and I mean that in the sense that the paparazzi don’t follow their every move because they aren’t superlatively famous, even if they have the looks, talent and/or some amazing skill that could make them so), people with many attributes—physical, mental and emotional—beat themselves up over every little mistake they make or every perceived flaw they think they have, I find it extremely aggravating. However, in our society, it’s really no wonder.

After all, saying anything positive about yourself is seen as akin to burping in public or refusing to give up your seat for an elderly person on the metro. It’s a strange double standard. Confidence has long been extolled as a value, even a necessity. We see ads telling us how to cultivate more confidence everywhere, on the windows of gyms and yoga studios; in brochures selling aspirational products and services such as evening language classes and juicers; developing and maintaining self confidence is even part of many elementary school curriculums.

 

Yet, even though we’re outwardly told—and taught, to some extent—to have confidence, it is considered poor form, if not completely rude, to appear confident in public.

Anything more than a tacit recognition that you’ve succeeded in something, that you’re good at something, that you’ve done well or that you’ve just been blessed is perceived as bragging, showing off and/or overstating facts. More than likely, if you acknowledge your talents, abilities—even something you can’t help, such as your looks—you’re deemed conceited and, like Samantha Brick, criticized mercilessly.

We tend to forget, for some reason, that there’s a difference between bragging and being confident.

Bragging is often repeated, aggressive and somewhat intimidating behavior. Confidence is an air that you have about yourself, knowing who you are, what your strengths are, and not being afraid to leverage them. Putting yourself down, even if you’re doing it in the name of modesty, is not only disingenuous, it’s unhealthy. Even if you start off believing in yourself and simply try to brush your strengths under the rug to appear modest, you may just start internalizing what was once simply an outward display of self-doubt and deprecation for the benefit of others.

Samantha Brick wasn’t bragging about her good looks. In her article, she simply states that others’ find her smile attractive and her appearance pleasing. She even talks about how she works at her appearance, and she’s proud of the outcome of her hard work—and why shouldn’t she be?

I personally applaud Ms. Brick’s sense of confidence—it is refreshing. Further, I cannot believe others have lambasted her simply because she is confident enough to discuss in public what she believes to be her personal assets. Granted, maybe she could have communicated her message differently—taking the “poor me, I’m pretty” approach is understandably grating—but, fundamentally, I think we should all take a page out of her book and be more prepared to display what we like about ourselves a bit more publically. While we might alienate—though possibly inspire—our less confident peers, we may all be getting bottles comp’d on our flight, and wouldn’t that be something worth talking about?

 

 

 Known as the girl who could talk herself out of a paper bag, Khaleelah Jones (www.khaleelahjones.com) has always loved sharing her voice with others. An avid fan of reading, anything Francophone, travel and dance, you can usually find Khaleelah gazing longingly at travel blogs or in the yoga studio. Khaleelah currently lives in London working as a freelance writer and yoga teacher.

 

~

Editor: Hayley Samuelson.

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13 Responses to “The Curse of Confidence. ~ Khaleelah Jones”

  1. Big Bunny says:

    Great! Absolutely great article. Its so true! Being confident is often thought of someone having ego, yet who does not want a confident doctor or financial planner. Really its so funny to think about… "Must have a strong sense of confidence for the position" every job has this posted in it, yet when interviewed and told did not get the job… " just seemed like you had to much confidence…" Comical article hit it on the head.

  2. Lisa says:

    you seem to have completely missed the point. And obviously you've not read her prior (and subsequent) "work", in which she regularly berates other women, judges them for not being like her and for not making the choices she's made, ranks them in comparison to her, blames everyone else for every problem in her life, etc. She's also been repeatedly shown to be a pathological liar, she invents narratives when she needs a 'story', she constantly contradicts herself. Most of the commenters on the Mail have read her prior stuff (and her blog, where she shows herself to be so profoundly insecure that she runs out of a store because the sales girl suggested she needed to diet; in another article, a male boss suggests she sort her face out (she had bad acne) and she was "devastated", just like she was "devastated" when someone was allegedly mean to her…can you say drama queen? Classic sign of insecurity). She is so profoundly insecure that she internalizes others' feedback, and parrots it. The woman is so profoundly insecure about her appearance that she was afraid to get pregnant to the point she concluded that was WHY she couldn't get pregnant, all because she was afraid she would not be able to lose the weight. This is profound insecurity…someone who won't even reproduce, have the baby they've longed for, because of their appearance? It's incredible. And why is she so insecure? Because her husband will leave her if she gets fat. And she lives for others' validation, because she has no organic self esteem. She recently wrote a piece in which she blasted a revered Cambridge prof for being "too ugly for TV," when the whole point of the show was for this scholar to share her academic passion with a broader audience, who didn't want her to look like a tart because…that's not what the show is selling. She then attacked all French women (previously, when she needed a different story, she attacked all British women, even though the negative feedback was coming from all over the world). The woman is an obvious narcissist–narcissism is not self esteem, it's compensation for LOW self esteem. Read her work, look a little deeper, don't be conned by an obvious con artist–she even admitted in one of her interviews that she was basically applying reality TV principles to "journalism" (she used to work in reality TV). Unfortunately for her, there's no such thing as "reality journalism," there's journalism, and then there's epic trolling fraud.

    • Khaleelah Jones Khaleelah says:

      Lisa, I actually have read quite a few of her articles. I definitely find that her statements about Mary Beard (the professor you mention) are totally uncalled for and would agree that some of her other work is quite critical of others, and usually based on appearances. Of course, as a writer myself, I also understand the "branding" necessary for writers to find their niche and therefore wonder how much of what she writes is actually her- and how much is simply her editor taking her ideas and crafting them in such a way that will sell more papers or get more hits on the website. I take your points here, and respect them, but I was simply writing on one piece and making one point, not making judgements on Samantha Brick as a whole. Perhaps she is narcissistic, I don't know her personally, and therefore could not judge whether that is a compensation for something she lacks; however, I encourage you to entertain the notion that, as I thought, she is confident and had a rather poor way of communicating her confidence. Either way, I think that the point I was trying to make here is not to focus so much on the bad things, especially about ourselves, but about others, as well. I hope you took something positive away from the article and do rest assured I do my research before I write :) Thanks for your comment!

  3. Sunflowergrl says:

    Awesome article! :)
    I really enjoyed reading this, and thought it was professionally and tastefully written.

  4. [...] power of the mind can both kill you and save you—it can drive you to despair and conversely, to heights of [...]

  5. [...] was wearing jeans and a tank top that day. Her southern drawl was still apparent. She had guts, a certain sweetness and the most fantastic hair I’ve ever seen. She giggled like a teenage [...]

  6. Matt says:

    I think the issue is that you can be confident and modest at the same time, but many people seem to have forgotten the value of modesty. To me, confidence suggests a sense of one's worth or ability, and modesty suggests a reluctance to put oneself out ahead of others. There's no reason one can't be confident *and* modest. In fact, it seems to me that this was an American ideal for generations, if not centuries. But suddenly, over the course of a few decades, it seems that many, many people no longer understand anymore why the latter trait has value. It's as though modesty is too close to neurotic, or it risks forfeit of one's competitive edge.

    I think it's a shame to lose it.

  7. Maryanne Stahl says:

    I wished you'd used an example other than the delusional Samantha Brick as the focus for your article on confidence. It all seems like a parlor trick.

    • Munni says:

      The fact there is so much attention on "how to be confident" implies that people are not confident – and they need help. This is suble sabotage- from few industries. If you ask people what is confidence and how they identify the level of confidence in themselves- they all refer to already set ideas of what others perceive what confidence is.

      Perhaps we can focus on inspiring people how to build on the existing level of confidence in themselves for higher purpose- not that we need more confidence, ,"selling aspirational products" – this is a perception trait. Confidence is a spring within and one could be guided to recognise this trait by themselves – not what others perceive as being confidence. Ones own picture of ones own confidence – like the Higher/Divine power one recognises for themselves – through various sources- it is an inside job- "not bought in stores"-

  8. Keith Artisan LivingArtisan says:

    Spot on. People with low self-esteem will always attack people who are confident, and try to undermine and tear those people down.

    Confident people aren't better than others, we are just … confident enough to live our truth and vulnerable enough to put it out to the world.

    I would anticipate that her confidence in herself makes her magnetic, and her friends have low self-esteem.

  9. truthenema says:

    I'm kind of shocked that an article on Elephant would mistake delusion for confidence.

    Reminds me of Lumpy Space Princess:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGSX8itYlsw

  10. Someone. :P says:

    Awesome article! I have not read Samantha Brick's stuff so will not comment on that. I just really enjoyed this article and the point made about how we tend to gang up on people and bring them down if they are too confident.

    Women are very judgmental of each other. Just spend an afternoon watching how women look a women (who intimidates them) up and down, looking for flaws to feel better about themselves. I have spent all summer re-working my reaction to beautiful women. It's been very fun and freeing to give a beautiful women a big smile, look her in the eyes, ignore that she is beautiful. Normally, I'd just shrink a little and dread the interaction or passing, probably sending her bad energy.

    I have had trouble having female friends all-of-my-life because I am very beautiful and intimidating myself. I have shrunk in the presence of other beautiful women despite this. This is not something I dare talk about for the reasons listed in this article. I'm certainly not full of myself, I have serious body issues if you haven't already guessed. But, women just don't, 'like' me based on my appearance alone. Every now and then, I meet a great female pal who is not this way, but really I struggle socially and mainly just have a ton of male friends.

    There are females I long to know, in my circle, friends of friends, and I just don't feel invited in. When I see a woman look at me with feelings of envy, I feel sad. I don't stand up taller and show myself off. I don't want to make anyone feel that way. I know exactly how it feels.

    Looks are very fleeting.

    I thought this article was going to be about how sexy confidence is, because I think anyone can look ten times more beautiful just by feeling beautiful! We all know that.

  11. chuck says:

    Interesting. I am being sent on sales training next week, with the goal of allowing myself to be open and vulnerable, in a business context, to allow people to connect with me. Could it be, not too much confidence that causes these problems, but a lack of vulnerability that makes it difficult for others to connect with us?

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