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BBC Scotland on Sunday Sunday Mail

THE BEAUTY ISSUE: Samantha Brick beauty or beast? BBC after Gloria Hunniford, Eunice Olumide’s colour rap, Julia Roberts still pretty at 44, Defoe, Drogba, Essien, Bellamy and Ireland in their own beautiful game

By Colin Grant

April 8, 2012 | 5 min read

This week’s main theme is beautiful women.

Just how beautiful is Samantha Brick has become a national obsession, judging by the massive coverage in today’s papers.

It is the debate in The Observer where columnist Eva Wiseman and psychotherapist Susie Orbach offer contrasting views on the issue.

Scotland on Sunday’s Anna Burnside weighs in with “Samantha Brick’s love of her own looks has opened up a whole new front in the war on sexism.”

“Just how tough is it being beautiful,” asks The Sunday Times. And just to prove Rupert Murdoch’s paper isn’t treating this story too lightly we are told that writer Kate Spicer delves into the science of ‘lookism’ and ‘pulchronomics’ (which is the link between economics and beauty, I googled it so you don’t have to).

In The Mail on Sunday Suzanne Moore states ‘Beautiful’ Ms Brick is lost in a cruel hall of mirrors.

And so it goes on.

I couldn’t be bothered to read the in-depth analyses offered by these experts, all of whom are women, because I preferred to look at the pictures of Ms Brick. I could be wrong but I think most men would rather look at a picture of a so-called beautiful woman than read about her.

And having studied the images at length I reckon she’s not bad for her age, but nowhere near beautiful, and certainly not as attractive as the picture of Suzanne Moore.

However, there are more sinister (and much more serious) angles to the controversy surrounding women’s looks.

“Women sue sexist BBC” reports The Sunday Telegraph, which reveals “The BBC is facing fresh criticism of its treatment of women, as up to 30 prepare to sue over claims of sexism and ageism.”

And just to make sure the reader has grasped the importance of the point, Jonathan Wynne-Jones helpfully informs us in the next sentence that “the women are alleging that they are victims of sex and age discrimination”.

The article claims that only 13 of the 68 presenters on Radio 1 and Radio 2 were women and only one of the BBC’s 55 weekday breakfast shows across all of its output was hosted by a woman. It adds: “There has not been a female presenter during the day on Radio 2 since Gloria Hunniford was replaced by Steve Wright in 1995 and the percentage of female DJs on Radio 1 is lower than it was 25 years ago.”

Perhaps it’s time the Beeb’s nickname should change from Auntie to Uncle.

The Sunday Mail’s perspective is provided in an interview with Eunice Olumide, a 23-year-old stunner who is one of Britain’s top black models.

She’s complaining that her very dark skin colour is a barrier to success. She says: “People are not used to working with such a dark-skinned model and I had to work 10 times harder to get basic jobs.

“Even today the black models and singers who are making it are lighter-skinned – look at Rihanna, Beyonce and Leona Lewis.”

But the most tragic aspect of the beauty debate is found in the Sunday Telegraph’s profile of Julia Roberts, whose new film about Snow White entitled “Mirror Mirror” is out soon. William Langley writes: “At 44 she is past the age when any actress’s stardom can be sustained by glamour or past box-office returns. What beckons is the cruel world of character parts and cameos.”

The issue arises because a rival version of the same fairytale “Snow White and the Hunstman” starring Charlize Theron reaches the cinemas at the same time.

Many people will no doubt find the younger Charlize much more attractive. I’m not one of them. For me and men of my generation Julia will always be a very pretty woman.

And now to sports, which is a far more important topic.

The Observer has a fascinating interview with Jermain Defoe who is campaigning to prevent youth violence in London. It begins: “Three years ago, Premier League footballer Jermain Defoe’s brother died after a street attack in London. In the aftermath, the striker and his club Tottenham set up a project for vulnerable teenagers, awarding them a mentor and the prospect of a job. But how do children who have spent years in care relate to a sporting millionaire?”

Defoe established E18hteen, which aims to train and find employment for 160 young people who are, or have recently been, in care. The teenagers are drawn from four London boroughs – Barnet, Enfield, Haringey and Waltham Forest.

Some of the youngsters involved in the project were also interviewed and it is clear the project is changing their lives.

In an excellent article writer Andrew Anthony also provided brief details of other top players and their community work.

Chelsea’s Didier Drogba set up a foundation which provides health and education support for his native Ivory Coast and elsewhere in Africa. He’s allegedly donated all his earning from a Pepsi ad campaign, £3 million. His team-mate’s Michael Essien Foundation improves sanitation in his native Ghana.

Craig Bellamy of Liverpool runs Sierra Leone’s only football academy, reputedly putting £1.2 million of his own cash into the project.

Aston Villa’s Stephen Ireland has raised £140,000 for the Francis House Children’s Hospice in Manchester, which provides respite for parents whose children suffer life-limiting conditions.

And no, I haven’t forgotten. Very well done to Neil Lennon’s Celtic for winning the league.

BBC Scotland on Sunday Sunday Mail

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