It’s easy to write off Samantha Brick , the OK-looking middle-aged British woman who complained Monday in The Daily Mail that her hotness is crippling her relationships. That’s how the Internet spent much of yesterday (sorry, HelloGiggles kitten cam ). In this round of How to Win the Internet, it’s not the millions of bloggers and commenters trying to one-up each other’s one-liners who triumph. As Lindy West over at Jezebel  points out, The Daily Mail is just using Brick to hijack our regularly scheduled online diet of mild indolence and depravity:
Fair enough. But are we giving Samantha Brick enough credit (if that is the word) here? Why are we so quick to take a pathetic-seeming woman at face value instead of seeing her as equally opportunistic as The Daily Mail?
Let’s test out two scenarios:
1) Self-delusional 41-year-old British woman who is OK-looking takes to the pages of a British tabloid purportedly to address the “taboo” subject of how the sisterhood sabotages itself with jealousy, which actually seems to be a thing, unfortunately . But her massive self-regard gets in the way and she is swiftly eaten by the Internet, which feeds on her tears .
2) Self-delusional 41-year-old unknown British writer with two unpublished* books  and a half-baked blog called French Housewife  calls attention to herself by going public with a fake hotness problem. In the mode of Dara-Lynn Weiss, who landed her book deal after opening up her daughter’s weight issues to the national debate, she sets herself up as a possibly unstable character with the kinds of strange ideas about personal boundaries that make press junkets a cinch for marketing execs.
Which one do you want to believe? And which do you think is actually more likely?
Let’s not forget former Gawker muse Julia Allison, who, back in 2006, became Internet famous by making herself look ridiculous in front of pageview-hungry bloggers. In his Wired profile  of Allison’s trajectory to microcelebrity, Jason Tanz recounts:
Supposedly dim, there-to-be-mocked women have been taking our money (or our attention, which is the same as money) for a long time: Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, Anna Nicole Smith… the list goes on. The innovation of Brick’s overshare is that you don’t even have to be hot to play the game.
It’s hard to tell from Brick’s sparse clip file whether her delusions are sincere or calculating—or some combination of both. One of her early articles for the Mail, from 2010, is a super-sisterhoody attack piece  on the sexist corporate culture of Britain’s TV industry, where Brick spent the first sixteen years of her career and where, she writes, she had friends whose rejection of their bosses’ sexual advances cost them their jobs. More recently she wrote about the importance of using your erotic capital  to get ahead at work (“While I never slept with anyone, I deliberately wore outfits that the decision-makers appreciate—for example, a Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress never fails to work with a man”). Conversely, in an article about how she lets her husband dress her , Brick characterized her work wardrobe as modest (“I never dressed tartily, not wanting to alienate friends or the many female bosses”). In one place she attributes the collapse of her first marriage in part to her commitment to exercising said erotic capital, and in another blames it on the bad advice of her psychic . At worst, we’ve got an unreliable narrator on our hands; at best, your standard hackish writer on a deadline.
If Brick is really out for a book deal (here’s her contact page! ), her media blitz is a pretty good stunt. Why should we suspect her, as an aging woman on the fast track to invisibility, of being anything but painfully, pitifully sincere? After all, everyone knows women—especially those with the misfortune of being over 40—are always striving to be hot; the possibility of their cleverness isn't really on the map.
Yes, we live in a cynical world where a hobbled and opportunistic media industry cashes in on the illusions of unknown celebrities (to coin a term) via reality TV and all the rest. Thanks to Samantha Brick, I can hold out hope that we instead live in a cynical world where opportunistic regular folks can exploit themselves just fine, regardless of how good-looking they are!
And since this is the moment to project onto Brick, I’ll add my own fantasy: that in the guise of a certain type of woman lampooned in the media (c.f. Jenna Maroney and All Cougars Everywhere), Samantha Brick took over the Internet. If only for a day.
*Dear Ms. Brick or her agent [?], please enlighten us  if we’re wrong.