Gemma Styles: On Naked Attraction And Dating In The Buff
Let's talk about that new dating show.
Oh god. Let's talk about that new dating show. Yeah, the one with all the knobs.
Naked Attraction premiered on Channel 4 this week; a new TV dating format, it takes participants (contestants?) and has them stand there in the buff while other people discuss their naked bodies. The idea is apparently to strip away material possessions and get to the nitty gritty of a person without hiding behind fancy goods, I guess to see if you're actually well matched enough for a relationship.
My issue with the premise is that I think it's pretending to be something it isn't. There's nothing necessarily wrong with a naked dating show; while I wouldn't be hurrying to sign up, all the people on the show are adults who have willingly volunteered - there's nothing generally wrong with being unashamed by your body and having the confidence to bare all. Good for you, tell me all your secrets. However, talking about this show as if it is a groundbreaking, barrier pushing format based on building lasting connections is a bit of a laugh.
It's a novelty show for people who wanna awkwardly giggle at seeing a load of naked people stood in boxes on the telly. The idea of taking away the material possessions we hide behind in order to see who we really are - I like it. In fact, Channel 4 showed another program recently, with the same idea, that I really loved. Life Stripped Bare showed six people who had all of their things taken away, from phones to furniture to clothes, in order to try and figure out what was really important to them. Each day of the three week experiment, they were allowed to get back one item, allowing them to really see what their priorities were - this was all while continuing with their usual lives, jobs etc. At the end the idea was to see how much of their stuff they wanted back, with a lot of participants donating large quantities to charity shops or homeless initiatives, realising a lot of their accrued possessions didn't really bring them any happiness anyway.
This I found interesting and made me quite self-reflective. Sadly the same can't really be said for Naked Attraction... Surely if we want to get back to connections based on personality and who we really are, studying a line up of nude suitors to see who we find most physically appealing isn't the best option. I understand trying to peel away layers of fashion and circumstance to find a love connection but, alright then, just dress them all in the same outfit? T-shirt and jeans? Bright orange onesie? One of those big blue bubble things like the girl in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?
I dunno, I just think this seems like fake good will. It's not so much a social experiment as it is a ratings booster. There's nothing wrong with meeting a new partner cos you've spotted them across the office and thought they were fit - physical attraction is, for most people, a huge part of sexual relationships - but don't pretend you're stripping them naked to find out more about them. To be honest, if you find you usually struggle to see past the brand of someone's jeans to decide if you're attracted to them or not then you need to have a strong word with yourself.