Image via mademan.com.
Why is Julie Burchill so unpopular? Is it because she is outspoken, deliberate provocative and prone to shouting things people don’t want to hear at inappropriate moments? Partly. Is it because she refuses to accept that she no longer has anything worthwhile to contribute as she skipped past the age limit on relevance in women’s lives some time ago? Possibly.
Or maybe it’s something even simpler. Could it be that people dislike Julie Burchill because she isn’t particularly nice to look at? There. I said it. Kill me now.
Oh, actually, don’t. For it seems that Julie will survive my heinous barb because she doesn’t think it’s the worst insult that can be thrown at a woman. A lonely position, perhaps, but her latest piece for the Daily Mail is based on a truth most people know, but would prefer to stay under liberal amounts of face cream and foundation: most women will never be pretty.
For me, it isn’t the contention that’s the problem. It’s a truth so obvious that ‘most women’ trip over it every day when they look in the mirror. But as Burchill points out, we are slaves to a narrow ideal foisted upon us to sell stuff and instead of celebrating the qualities that actually do make us unique, individual and special, we prefer hiding our diversity beneath layers of make-up or resculpting our bodies to a pre-determined and more aesthetically pleasing shape. It’s the intellectual equivalent of sticking one’s fingers in one’s ears.
Typically though, it isn’t Burchill who underlines this point. She merely prepares the ground. It’s articulation is left to those who comment on her work and clamour to be the first to tell Julie that her assertion she was ‘certainly beautiful’ in her twenties is erroneous. ‘Julie’, one commenter who is surely now thrilled to be riding a wave of ‘thumbs up’ responses, begins, ‘with all due respect: you were never beautiful.’
The best part? This comment was from a woman.