Monday, January 7, 2008

How to Look Good Naked

I caught the re-run of the first episode last night, and was just about in tears by the end of it. It's such a breath of fresh air amidst all the New Year's dieting shows, ads, etc. to have a show that shows how real women can be happy with their bodies right now, instead of dangling impossible standards in their face then chastising them for failing to reach.

It started out with the girl stripping to bra and panties and having to look at herself in a full length mirror. She looked about an average size (12/14? 16 at the most?) but definitely what Hollywood would call fat. She was asked to go over each body part to assess it in front of the mirror, with Carson standing by as coach, countering each complaint with a reality check (you have beautiful skin, all women have those flaps under their arm unless they pay someone to suck it out with some horrible machine, etc.). We did a similar exercise in a meditation class, where we had to look at ourselves naked in a full length mirror (although not with cameras on us!) and describe what we saw without value statements. So I know just how terrifying and vulnerable it felt for her to stand there.

Next they did an experiment that I hope becomes a regular feature of the show. The woman said that her "worst" feature was her large hips. She was brought into a room with 7 or so women, arranged by size from the narrowest to the widest hips. The woman was asked to place herself in the order based on what she thought her size was. She put herself second to largest. Carson pointed out that by measurement, she had added six inches to her hips in her mental image of herself, and moved her down to the correct placement...second to smallest.

This reminded me of an experiment we studied in a sociology class. Women were shown a series of silhouettes, and asked to select the one they think most accurately depicted their body, and the one that they saw as most desired by men. Consistently, women chose a body shape several sizes larger than their actual silhouette, and chose a "desirable" shape several times thinner than surveyed men had chosen as ideal. That's why the first exercise (mirror) is so crucial. Part of being able to love our bodies is knowing our bodies. Part of learning to dress to our shape is knowing what shape we are, and being completely unafraid of it.

The woman was taken to have a professional bra-fitting (and found she was wearing a cup two sizes too small). With all the info Pretty Pear has given on the subject, it's something that's gone up in my priority list. Apparently, the vast majority of women are wearing the wrong bra. 90+% of the support is supposed to come from the band, not the straps (could be why my shoulders ache when I wear certain bras?). The fitting was really enlightening.

At the end, after primping, dressing to her own body shape and style, and agreeing to a photo shoot, Carson dropped another bombshell that I think is going to be a regular. He told her the photo shoot was going to be nude. After some tears and gentle persuasion, she agrees, and they do a series of tasteful shots that turn out really, really sexy. As a final surprise, Carson takes her out into New York, where her photo was projected onto the side of a building. She had to stop random strangers, point at the billboard and ask "Do you think I look good naked?"

The response from both men and women was an overwhelming "yes". A lot of the responses said something along the lines of "That's what real women look like!" One guy got so enthusiastic in his praise that his girlfriend started shooting him glares. The show closed with the woman giving a really positive "no more dieting, I'm going to love my body the way it is" message.

It was fantastic, wildly anti-mainstream, empowering, and I can't wait to be an avid fan of the series! It was definitely anti-diet (described as "destroying yourself") anti WLS/Liposuction, pro body acceptance and love. I just hope that ratings can stay up so that this show can have the kind of life it needs.

The only complaint was that two quack diet pill ads followed the show in commercial break. Lifetime's taken a great step, but has yet to reflect it in their advertising standards.


Yummy Rum said...

I don't get the point of the segment where the guest had to place herself in a line-up of women based on how big her hips were. Didn't it just basically say "See? You're not that fat!"

Rose said...

I agree that this is a terrific, empowering show. I looked at Lifetime's message board on the show and was moved to tears! This show has introduced so many women to FA who didn't even know such a thing existed. Also, I'd like to add that negative comments were few and far between, which indicates to me that they have quick moderators who will remove hateful posts so that this can be a safe, welcoming environment for women to discuss their feelings on the show.

As for the line-up, I believe it was to demonstrate that women have no idea what they look like. Layla had a distorted view of the size of her hips, and I think it's a strech to say that it was anti-fat to point that out to her.

Yummy Rum said...

Hey rose,

I didn't think the lineup was anti-fat per se... Just kind of focusing on looks rather than thoughts and feelings.

Maybe I just don't get it. It seems to work for everyone else.

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Anonymous said...


I hope all is well. I just wanted to thank you for posting on your blog about “How To Look Good Naked.” You have played an important part in the huge success of its' premiere.

Taken from Lifetime’s press release:
“How to Look Good Naked was a particularly strong performer (1.3 HH) and debuted as the most watched reality series among A18-34, A18-49 and W18-34 in Lifetime’s 24-year history.”

Have a great day!!!



Lucifer_666 said...

Okay... I'm a guy and I'm from Ireland so I get alot of UK tv and I have caught this programme only its the UK version I'm watching....Now even though I do think it has to be commended for taking a difference stance on the whole body thing and how people should feel about their bodies I still have some difficulties with some of the things the show does. For a start I agree slightly with Yummy rum there I don't really like the idea of putting someone in a group of bigger it is kind of like saying...."you think your bad...look at these lot" and does fly in the face of fat acceptance in a way. Another thing that is done in the UK version (I don't know if the US version does this) but the women on many occasions are sent either for a particular exercise or dietary basically if a lady is conscious about her butt looking big she could be sent to a gym to do particular exercises for that area.. Now to me that is a complete contradiction to what the show is about and in fairness what the presenter advocates throughout too about accepting yourself for what you are.and realising that big can be beautiful. Like if its beautiful why have her lose it in a gym?
I also have a problem with the women they choose, now forgive and bear with me here because I am referring to the UK version of the show and maybe its different in the States..but here they only pick slightly bigger ladies (now granted today they are seen as obese in our mad body obsessed world but to me they are slightly plump or curvacious) I'm yet to see a very big women been chosen to look good naked...I have seen many in the parts of the show where they gather lots of women together to try out different beauty products like creams, etc but none for the main part...and to me its like another contradiction.

All in all I think the show has its heart in the right place but in the UK they are that obsessed with this obesity epidemic rubbish that I think the show creators are afraid to take the idea too far without being accused of encouraging people to be overweight as ridiculous as that may sound....