What hope for the sisterhood with so many snarks about?

Tanya Sweeney

Last weekend, after I'd written in this paper about the joys of living alone, I was invited on to the radio to state my case. I found myself saying that as a sole dweller, I enjoyed my own company.

Among messages sent in were a few 'oh, she LOVES herself' texts. One was read out on air, and I replied with the first thing that entered my head: "I do, actually ... I love myself!" Before I knew it, I was close to what is now commonly known as Samantha Brick territory.

Ms Brick wrote an article earlier this month in which she proclaimed herself very attractive. An outpouring of bile -- most of it by women -- occurred around the world not long after.

After years of Oprah-style self love and 'you're worth it!' carry on, the pendulum seems to have swung the other way entirely for women. Compliments are so last-season; giving them to yourself, even more so.

At the risk of incurring no end of cyber-hatred, I'll go ahead and say it ... I. Like. Myself. Not every day, of course, but for the most I don't think I did too badly.

Why do women who openly admire themselves seem to hit a raw nerve in society? Is it because we are so conditioned to be self-deprecating that when a woman shows a smidgen of self-confidence, we're thrown?

Says Clara Fisher of the Irish Feminist Network: "The system is set up to make women feel uncomfortable about themselves, so it doesn't quite sit well when someone goes against this."

In fact, women don't even need to be proclaiming that they are amazing to befall bad vibes online. In a bid to retaliate against the onslaught of 'perfect' female images online, the ordinary girl is supposedly fighting back ... with body snarking.

Body snarking refers to the snide, negative comments often aimed at women's bodies. Hotornot.com, a site where people upload their photos to be judged by others, is one of the internet's first major success stories, after all. Likewise, gofugyourself.com, replete with the bitchiest and wittiest fashion snarks out there, remains a perennial internet favourite.

"The media perpetuates the idea that women compete against each other," says Fisher. "But the idea that women have to feel anxiety over their bodies is largely financially driven. When women feel inadequate, 'hey presto, here's a product you can buy for that!'"


Body snarking may feel good in the (very) short run, but the long-term implications may be harder to swallow. We're at a point where women would rather be WAGs than nurses or teachers.

"Look at the derogatory way Hillary Clinton was portrayed during the last US presidential election," notes Fisher. "Some younger women would think, 'why would I want to be in a position of leadership if that's how you're talked about?'"

So where to for the sisterhood from here? Happily, all is not lost.

"Young girls are definitely showing a desire for a change, and even though they're taking on some pretty big industries, such as the plastic surgery or beauty industries, they're trying to make it happen in whatever small way they can."