Naked Attraction: Super, Or Superficial?
Now that Naked Attraction series 1 has ended and the dust has settled, we’re sharing our thoughts on this giant leap in dating evolution…
You’re sitting down with your cup of hot, strong tea with your comfies on, excited to snuggle up for an evening of cracking TV. You pick up the remote and start browsing channels, lions chasing a gazelle, a documentary about people on benefits, a game show, two women staring at loads of willies…. Wait, what? No, you haven’t accidentally signed up for some odd porn channel, you’ve switched on to Channel 4’s latest dating show, Naked Attraction. The format involves bisexual host Anna Ryder Richardson, speaking with singles (the daters) as they browse a selection of naked people (contestants) in ‘reveal compartments’. These compartments slowly reveal the bodies of the contestants bit by bit from the feet upwards until fully exposed, with the dater eliminating one person per every round. Eventually when they have the last three contestants on view in full, the dater can choose their final two who come out of their compartments, and chat to Anna while the dater goes and gets undressed, before coming back naked. They all then discuss the daters body and the dater then chooses between the final two contestants for a date. The show then follows up with a filmed (fully clothed) date in a bar, and then an interview with them both a few weeks later to see how they both got on.
This is surely groundbreaking TV. Would it have been promoted as acceptable viewing 20yrs ago? Absolutely not. But it’s exciting to see dating stripped back to its most natural, innocent form, especially as the full naked bodies aren’t airbrushed or lit to make them appear anything but dimply, wobbly, hairy, curvy, thin, muscular, and any other glorious natural form they might come in. Yay for body confidence and realism on the TV! Also a big round of applause for the closeups, which provide even more realism when it comes to the human body – this is certainly long overdue.
Body positive vibes and natural dating aside, the show certainly throws up some pretty hefty questions about dating.
Naked Attraction could be construed as a horrifically low, and crude sensationalist format for a dating show. Does this highlight how superficial we’ve become as a society? Are people angry at seeing willies on TV? Should we be impressed at real bodies being shown to our impressionable youth of today? Are most people excited at this great new dating format?
(Image – Channel4.com)
As A Dating Concept, It Could Be Great
Many believe the dating concept is shockingly bad, because it appears to support the idea that we should put looks first. However, you only have to watch one show to recognise that they are clearly trying to promote the idea of selecting partners based on our genes. The little facts about our bodies, and the history and statistics related to sexual attraction, paired with cute animations. An example could be an animation showing female cave women being more attracted to men with a firm well developed bum because it signals a strong hip thrust and excellent ability to run and hunt prey. Some might say facts like these are outdated, but why do we have to fight our genes? Times have moved on and women don’t need men to provide for them, but biologically our genes are still working at a very, well, deep rooted biological level. Your genes don’t care about equal pay or who’s going to pay the bill on the first date, they just want you to meet the best man or woman to make strong babies with, so both gene pools survive. Although some might say the science behind the show is badly executed, it isn’t the worst idea anyone ever had in terms of dating. Going ‘raw’ and back to basics could be a really great way to meet someone, especially as it allows us to be vulnerable. There’s no hiding behind a designer coat, or push up bra. Surely that has to be great for dating? Being our complete and open, honest, naked selves?
Some Might Say The Body Confidence Message Gets A Bit Lost
It is great that we can date in such a plainly open way with Naked Attraction, but one could argue that the body confidence message gets a bit lost, therefore muddling up the potentially strong dating premise for the show.
The bodies are unairbrushed, and come in many shapes and sizes, but, there are a few little issues that should be discussed before Naked Attraction is labelled as the next giant leap in body confidence.
There are various issues. Those applying for the show are naturally going to be more body confident than most, so naturally, the general standard of body is going to be much higher than if say you took a look underneath the clothes at 6 random people in the general public. Size 16 is the most common size in women in the UK, yet ladies who are more curvy are less commonly seen on the show. The same goes for men. In real life you’re more likely to see curvier men and women out in public, but on the show people tend to be in much better shape, which makes sense because those who fit a more idealised version of what society thinks a body ‘should’ look like are more likely to be OK showing it off on TV. How can we make people more confident about their bodies if we can’t get anyone with a more ‘normal’ body on the show, and so the vicious circle continues with people viewing believing they have to be a certain shape or size to be beautiful. This is something that may change in the future as models like Tess Holliday and Ashley Graham are making a media storm, and curves are finally being more accepted, but the show proves that we’re perhaps some way off being a nation of hourglass ladies embracing larger sizes just yet.
(Image – Channel4.com)
Another potential problem is the running commentary from Anna and the person choosing a date. It can be extremely harsh, saying comments such as ‘That is a big bush’ and ‘I have never seen nipples so pale before’ and even commenting suggestions on a woman’s outie labia. This is where it gets tricky, because everyone has a certain taste and opinion, but surely by commenting on people’s bodies on TV there’s a certain responsibility in terms of impressionable viewers? The contestants know what they are in for, so they have to take some responsibility for putting themselves up for scrutiny, but it is a worry that a viewer could see a body on the programme like their own, it being scrutinised and then come away from their viewing experience feeling ashamed or embarrassed somehow.
In terms of body confidence, the programme sure wants to get us seeing real bodies in all their glory, with all their differences. But as it stands, we feel that there isn’t enough of a selection of different body types being shown on the programme at the moment, and having a better selection of bodies that represent all body shape demographics in the UK, could be the key to pushing the programme into a real gold standard of realism and true body confidence.
It Could Be Really, Really Great
Although Naked Attraction certainly has potential and has gotten people talking, the flaws are a bit too numerous at the moment to hail it as the next big thing in terms of dating and body confidence. With a little tweaking the program could really help individuals accept their bodies and love themselves for who they are. Although Anna does a great job of trying not to scrutinise the contestants, if her comments were a little more conscious with less objectifying and scrutiny, and more positivity and acceptance, it could seriously encourage less confident viewers to feel ok with their bodies. In terms of singles finding love this way, the story isn’t over yet. The first couple to connect in episode one seemed to have a true, deep connection during the follow up, and although the couples after that didn’t seem to have much love for each other at all, there’s still hope yet. Perhaps a few tweaks with the choosing process could remedy this, and following the tremendous social media feedback from this first series, perhaps (and fingers crossed) we will see a few changes in the next series that iron out these few creases.
(Image – Channel4.com)
Singles Should Focus On Personality
Naked Attraction is a really great start to exploring a different way to match singles, especially for those still on the fence about online dating. And there’s no doubt it’s a more honest way to see the human body. Will there be a series two? Who knows, but until the idea of naked dating takes off, we see online dating continuing to make waves in the matchmaking space.
Physical chemistry matters, but personality should still be our number one priority when it comes to dating. A person’s physical attributes turning you on, might make for some great sex, but they don’t necessarily make for a great relationship, some go for looks but others don’t. Harking back to facts from caveman times is all well and good, but back then we just wanted someone to give us a strong baby, we didn’t want someone to cuddle up with on the sofa, to go on long bike rides with, or to chat about our favourite topics with. These key differences are what separate modern day dating and procreating dating. For singles in such a superficial society, it might be hard to focus on what’s on the inside, but it’s imperative that we do. It is the only way to get to know someone’s heart and soul, which is what really matters when it comes to making a true, long term love match.