Naked Attraction: The Bizarre and Beautiful

The images and information that we receive through our social media accounts are strongly mediated and censored. However, as a generation, there is one medium that we have seemingly completely disregarded: television. 

When was the last time you turned on your TV and watched cable for entertainment? A long time ago I assume. This industry continues to grow while we face away from it, making available content we thought was nonexistent. 

British television tends to stand out for their eye-catching  commercials and bizarre shows that appeal to both mainstream audiences and niche crowds alike. Nevertheless, a show that truly caught my attention for being mind-boggling was Naked Attraction, a dating game show where the contestants have to bare it all to be chosen as a date. 

The show premiered on the 25th of July 2016 with the premise of participants choosing who they’d be most compatible with based solely on looks. The show starts with six naked contestants standing behind coloured panels, allowing us to only see the silhouettes of their bodies. One contestant stands at the front with the host, Anna Richardson, while the panels are gradually raised with each stage, to reveal what the naked people look like from bottom to top. As the stages pass, the clothed contestant has to eliminate the naked contestants which they are not attracted to. We finally get to see everyone’s faces (and not only their faces) when there are three contestants left. The host then asks the three naked contestants to speak, so the dressed contestant can hear what they sound like and eliminate one more potential partner.

Now, if you didn’t feel like that’s enough nakedness in one go, the clothed contestant now appears naked to finally choose who they want to go on a date with. This decision always ends with a cringy naked hug. 

The audience is shown parts of the date (which they have to put their clothes back on for) and later on, a reflection on how that date truly went. The show can be very hit or miss, having some couples fall in love, others ending up as friends, and the rest never wanting to see each other again. So, what can we learn about this show as the viewers? Why make a show about a bunch of naked British people?  and what was the purpose of this show being out in the air? 

At first glance, the show seems quite degrading and makes you feel uncomfortable, especially if you don’t know what is going on. When I turned on my TV, all I saw were six  naked women standing in front of one fully-dressed man waiting to be chosen, which feels like a huge backpedal when we consider the relevance of female empowerment in our generation. However, after further researching the show and learning about the purpose and how the contestants felt before and after leaving the show, it left me pretty convinced it was a step forward for feminism rather than one backwards.  

The show prides itself on its  lack of censorship, letting their audience see unretouched  bodies . There is no airbrushing either: every “imperfection” is visible and celebrated. The contestants are asked to talk about their favourite features and tell the other contestants what you think their best features are, encouraging positive behaviour towards themselves and others. The show is also very inclusive, by hosting people of a variety of body types, genders, sexual orientations, and ages. 

When I first saw the show I was surprised on how crudely they showed the people fully naked, especially considering that you could see all of their imperfections. However, after a while I realized: why am I so shocked by seeing naked people? Why is it so weird to be able to see their cellulite and body hair? That’s because Instagram, Snapchat, and other social medias focus on perfection and irreality, rather than the normalcy of the human body. Instagram, as an example, takes down pictures of women breastfeeding, but leaves up sexy pictures of models, because that is what they assume we want to see. 

We find the human body at its most simple state to be disgusting, unappealing, or inappropriate because that is what we have been taught to think. However, we still see semi-naked people all the time on our social media, but these people are airbrushed and photoshopped, creating unrealistic expectations for teenagers on what their bodies are meant to look like. 

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