While I’m no Elle Macpherson, I’m tall, slim, blonde and, so I’m often told, a good-looking woman. I know how lucky I am. But there are downsides to being pretty — the main one being that other women hate me for no other reason than my lovely looks.
If you’re a woman reading this, I’d hazard that you’ve already formed your own opinion about me — and it won’t be very flattering. For while many doors have been opened (literally) as a result of my looks, just as many have been metaphorically slammed in my face — and usually by my own sex.
I’m not smug and I’m no flirt, yet over the years I’ve been dropped by countless friends who felt threatened if I was merely in the presence of their other halves. If their partners dared to actually talk to me, a sudden chill would descend on the room.
And it is not just jealous wives who have frozen me out of their lives. Insecure female bosses have also barred me from promotions at work.
And most poignantly of all, not one girlfriend has ever asked me to be her bridesmaid.
You’d think we women would applaud each other for taking pride in our appearances. I work at mine — I don’t drink or smoke, I work out, even when I don’t feel like it, and very rarely succumb to chocolate.
Unfortunately, women find nothing more annoying than someone else being the most attractive girl in a room.
In my early 20s, when I first started in television as a researcher, one female boss in her late 30s would regularly invite me over for dinner after a long day in the office.
I always accepted her invitation, as during office hours we got along famously. But one evening her partner was at home. We were all a couple of glasses of wine into the evening. Then he and I said we both liked the song we were listening to.
She laid into her bewildered partner for ‘fancying’ me, then turned on me, calling me unrepeatable names before ridiculing me for dying my hair and wearing lipstick. I declined any further invitations.
Therapist Marisa Peer, author of self-help guide Ultimate Confidence, says that women have always measured themselves against each other by their looks rather than achievements — and it can make the lives of the good-looking very difficult.
‘Many of my clients are models, yet people are always astounded when I explain they don’t have it easy,’ she says. If you are attractive other women think you lead a perfect life — which simply isn’t true.
‘They don’t realise you are just as vulnerable as they are. It’s hard when everyone resents you for your looks. Men think “what’s the point, she’s out of my league” and don’t ask you out. And women don’t want to hang out with someone more attractive than they are.’
I certainly found that out the hard way, particularly in the office.
One contract I accepted was blighted by a jealous female boss. It was the height of summer and I’d opted to wear knee length, cap-sleeved dresses. They were modest, yet pretty; more Kate Middleton than Katie Price.
But my boss pulled me into her office and informed me my dress style was distracting her male employees. I didn’t dare point out that there were other women in the office wearing similar attire.
Rather than argue, I worked out the rest of my contract wearing baggy, sombre-coloured trouser suits. It was clear that when you have a female boss, it’s best to let them shine, but when you have a male boss, it’s a different game: I have written in the Mail on how I have flirted to get ahead at work, something I’m sure many women do.
Women, however, are far more problematic. With one phenomenally tricky boss, I eventually managed to carve out a positive working relationship. But a year in, her attitude towards me changed; the deterioration began when she started to put on weight.
While the male executive signed the paperwork without hesitation, my immediate boss refused to sign. When I asked her right-hand woman why, she pulled me to one side and explained that my boss was jealous of me.
I find that older women are the most hostile to beautiful women — perhaps because they feel their own bloom fading.