Thursday, 10 August 2017

I love Naked Attraction and you should too

I really love Naked Attraction.

For those of you who haven’t heard of or maybe just haven’t watched it, Naked Attraction is a dating show on Channel 4 with a twist. The twist being that the potential daters are stark
naked. The way the show works is that presenter Anna Richardson greets someone who wants to find a date and over the next four rounds they are shown five people in varying degrees of visible nakedness.

In the first round the dater sees the bodies from below the waist with a panel covering the torso and face of each person. In the next round the panel rises to show everything below the neck, the next round it lifts to show the person’s face and then finally the person choosing a date gets to hear their voices. Someone is eliminated at the end of each round until it has been narrowed down to two potential dates. The person doing the choosing (who has been clothed up until this point) then goes off screen momentarily and returns completely naked, where they eliminate one more person to leave the date they ‘would like to see with their clothes on’.

Understandably, it’s a pretty controversial show but I think Naked Attraction is massively underrated when people only choose to see it from one angle and not think about what I see as the bigger picture. But we’ll get to that. A lot of the complaints I have seen about it is that choosing a date naked is completely superficial and society is failing if it has got to this point. Yes, Naked Attraction is definitely superficial but in a world of Tinder and Grindr I don’t think it’s fair to say that it is any more looks based than dating has become outside of a TV show. It might differ for older people but my personal experience of dating apps is that people aren’t putting a lot of effort into their bio’s in an attempt to win you over with their words. Instead a lot of the time profiles are compiled with pictures of people in swimwear or half naked at the gym. And for some reason there are often lots of pictures of boys holding fish. But that's a story for another day.

Unless you meet someone through friends or at work in an environment where you’re able to get to know someone first, even picking a date in the ‘real world’ outside of apps is superficial because physical attraction is usually the first thing people go off in terms of having an initial attraction to someone. My point is that it’s all superficial. People are just getting annoyed because Channel 4’s version has nudity.

I get that nudity isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and that’s fair enough, those people don’t have to watch it. I’m definitely not making the argument that meeting someone naked on TV is the most likely way of finding the love of your life. However I do think the fact that Channel 4 has made a show where average people who look like the people you went to school with or those you pass on the street are given a platform to be unashamedly naked and celebrate their bodies on nationwide television is amazing.

I also think the way they handle the premise of the show is tasteful, or as tasteful as you can get when there are five naked people partially hidden behind coloured panels. The person picking a date from the naked line up is prompted to give reasons they like a person’s body and although they are asked for the reason they decide to send a particular person home these are usually polite and never a personal attack. In the round where the person gets to hear the final three speak, Anna Richardson asks them to name their favourite thing about their body and their least favourite thing. Even in the final round, the two naked potential dates often give each other a compliment on an attribute they like in the other person. 

Naked Attraction doesn’t care about your weight, height, sexual orientation, gender, if you have tattoos, stretch marks, plastic surgery, scars or how much body hair you have on your body. When we’re living in a world where a lot of us spend 6 weeks of our summers glued to the TV every night to watch the perfectly tanned and often scantily clad bodies on Love Island, I think it’s so important that shows like Naked Attraction exist too. The show has a positive outlook throughout, with no one person's body being better than anyone else's on the show. When the people who have been eliminated after each round speak to the cameras afterwards, most of them comment on how the experience has made them feel better about their bodies or more confident in their own skin.

I’ve seen girls who have bodies like mine and girls who have bodies completely different to mine and it’s been so affirming to my own body image to see proof of the idea that there is no right way for your body to look. There are so many different body types and as long as the media fails to demonstrate this, we need shows like Naked Attraction to keep picking up the slack.

Even more reason to love the show is that it is presented by Anna Richardson who is openly bisexual and it’s so refreshing to have a show where the presenter is able to be unashamedly proud and visible in her bisexuality. Obviously she is able to talk about her sexuality because of the context of the show, but Channel 4 could have quite easily gone a different route with a different presenter and missed out on the opportunity of having a conversation about bisexuality all together.

Likewise, many dating shows conveniently forget the LGBT+ community in their lineups but Naked Attraction’s dedication to showcasing different people and bodies is furthered by the diversity of the people featured. They have had straight, gay, lesbian, transgender, pansexual and bisexual people as potential dates and they never make a big deal out of any of this other than to clarify something that the audience might not know, like the definition of pansexuality.

Obviously Naked Attraction isn’t for everyone, but I think to view it as purely a way for millennials to draw attention to themselves and get naked is very reductive. It’s a shame so many people write it off based on just the concept alone because I think it has such a good platform for counteracting the idea that you need to look like the people on the Instagram discover page in order to be seen as attractive. Yes Naked Attraction is superficial, but more often than not it strays away from the standardised or conventional ideals of beauty. Watching people who look like you, loving and celebrating the body parts you maybe don’t like very much about yourself is so empowering.

 So next time you see an advert for Naked Attraction, don’t scoff at it. Put it on and you might even be pleasantly surprised.

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