Laurie and Debbie, blogging together again, say:
At first glance, How To Look Good Naked sounds like the best thing to hit reality TV since … well, since the invention of reality TV. Look what they say about themselves:
Welcome to the new fashion series that shows women of all shapes and sizes how to look great with their clothes on and off! And believe it or not – there’s no cosmetic surgery and no make-overs.
It’s the first show to be 100% against cosmetic surgery. Tune in to find out all you need to look and feel slimmer — whatever size or shape you are — without going under the knife. The show will tell you how to give your body a non-surgical lift, using all the tricks of the fashion trade and loads of insider beauty tips. If, as a recent survey suggested, 98% of British women hate their bodies, How to Look Good Naked is their saving grace.
If only it were true …
If truth in advertising was legislated, the show would be called How to Look Fashionable in Strategically Engineered Underwear. Let’s look first at the show itself. Fashion stylist Gok Wan (male, of course), apparently puts women through the standard reality-show abuse obstacle course …
With the pressure on, Gok gets straight to work. His first challenge for 48-year-old Roberta is to get her down to her bra and pants in front of three enormous mirrors. There’s no hiding, and Roberta is shocked by what she sees. But Gok doesn’t dwell on the bits she hates about her butt – he actually tells her that it isn’t big enough: “I’m going to lift it, and make it more curvy,” he says.
… and then dresses them in several-hundred-pound (which is several-hundred-plus-dollar) outfits. This is looking good naked? No, this is liking yourself when you’ve been a good, obsessed consumer.
This anti-cosmetic-surgery show hosts a very complex and detailed website covering almost every way women have found to hate their bodies over the last hundred years. And guess what? When they aren’t recommending expensive outfits, they’re recommending the most repulsive treatments of all.
Yes, Botox (for the horror of armpit sweating). “‘Treatments for sweating used to be based mainly on deodorants and anti-perspirants,’ cosmetic physician Dr. Roy Saleh says. ‘But we know that Botox is safe and effective, so we are able to improve the lifestyle of many of our patients with this debilitating problem.'” Sure: safe and effective. It’s botulism toxin and no one knows anything about long-term effects.
Yes, cosmetic surgery, for everything from intersexuality to sagging labia. Kirsty, who had her leg bones broken and reset to recover from the misery of being 6’3″ is “pleased with the results of her operation. She can walk down the street, without stares and gasps from passers-by. Her surgeon cut a 3in segment out of the inside of her thigh bone and a matching segment on the other side 3in further up, so that the remaining pegs of bone slotted together. Metal plates fixed the broken bones together and allowed them to heal. Today, she has no regrets about her operation and judges it a complete success. The scars on her legs are hidden by trousers and skirts and, as she points out, Norwegian women don’t get the opportunity to wear bikinis very often.”
Every link you click has more of this bullshit disguised as learning to love your body. The pattern is consistent: success stories about cosmetic surgery, peppered with warnings, side effects, and reasons not to (“Taking years off your face doesn’t come without some pain and discomfort and it’s important to find out exactly what you’re letting yourself in for before you go in.”) However, there are no stories of failure, and each section contains references to surgeons who will do the work, and who probably pay for the placement. Sections are internally contradictory, first saying that intersexuality surgery in infancy can be a problem and two sentences later saying that “without a doubt” it’s a good choice.
One way or another, every single section is designed to reinforce body hatred, self-doubt, and the desperate desire to find a consumer’s solution. This makes Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” look like the results of an amateur capitalist playing with Monopoly money.
Here’s the bright side. The message they’re working so hard to pervert and commodify is the message we, and so many hundreds of other body image activists, are working so hard to get out in its true and uncommodified form. They’re listening to us, they’re responding like the savvy entrepreneurs they are, and some women are hearing what they aren’t saying. The word is out, Pandora’s box is open, and hope is flying around the TV airwaves, surrounded by crap.
We know how to look good naked: take off your clothes.
Pointer courtesy Alan Bostick.