Is getting naked the answer to our self esteem problems?
As season 4 of the widely debated Naked Attraction takes to our screens, Leah Crossman comes to terms with the naked body and the huge amounts of positivity that we could all benefit from if we stripped off once in a while.
Naked attraction – take away the dating aspect and it is a wonderful display of naked bodies of all ages, shapes and sizes. Where most people feel awkward viewing such a thing on national television, I was fascinated. To see five real human bodies lined up next to each other, you understand how delightfully unique every single one of them is and it makes you realise that to have differences is not so different after all.
Self-confidence, particularly amongst young people, is something that we’re all lacking. This is understandable from a lifetime of unattainable body images being ingrained into us from the moment we signed up to Instagram. Tell us that it’s photoshopped however many times you want, but we will still try the latest fad diet to get that dream body. According to the Centre for Mental Health, one in 10 teenage girls say that they’re unhappy with their body and as our use of social media is only increasing, so are our body insecurities.
Keith Gordon from Naturism in Cornwall agreed: “The more people are used to seeing normal naked bodies and being seen themselves, the more they realise the natural beauty of human bodies without surgical enhancements or chemical introductions. This develops self-confidence and body confidence which leads to greater happiness and fewer distorted pouting photographs on social media.”
I’m not particularly overwhelmed with my body, I have the things I would change just like the next person and social media definitely doesn’t help with that. I long to have the bodies I see every day scrolling down my feed, but by doing that, I’m trying to live up to a body that doesn’t exist – is this because I never really see bodies that do exist?
For generations society has told us to cover up and partly, I think this is to blame for our self-esteem problems as for so long it has been seen as a bad thing to be naked. Older generations are more conservative and in fact, my own Grandma was pretty horrified by the show. She said it was obscene and there was no need for full frontal nudity. But for what reason? The only outcome from that mindset is us having no idea what our bodies should look like because we are never actually exposed to what a real body looks like. In search for this clarification, we have turned to Instagram, where our perception of the human body is distorted by camera angles, lighting and editing software used in excess. When we see a real body, or more importantly our own bodies, we label it as abnormal because it’s not the kind of body we’re used to seeing every day. Naked Attraction unknowingly addresses this struggle by showing us real and very different bodies.
Many have had a stab at this ‘naked taboo’ too. Take the Dove ‘Real Beauty’ campaign, a celebration of real women, in all kinds of variations and exactly the kind of naked, body positivity we need more of. It makes people feel confident in their own bodies to see how different every other body is, but it needs to be more prevalent.
Celebrity stylist, Gok Wan, also campaigned for body confidence to be a compulsory part of the PSHE curriculum in 2011. His work found devastating statistics such as, 70% of participants stated that they did not like what they saw in the mirror and 71% of participants said they felt self-conscious about their body in changing rooms. Unfortunately, just as this scheme was going to be passed, the general election happened and the campaign lost momentum.
I think Gok hit the nail on the head though, we should start with schools and strike youngsters as soon as they discover what an insecurity is. We should teach them that it’s normal to look different to one another and to love their bodies by looking past the photos they see on social media and tell themselves that those bodies aren’t real. Then as Keith from NatCorn mentioned, this would hopefully lead to less edited photographs online, which fuel this dangerous cycle of body issues and mental health problems.
Whether you agree with being naked or not, it can’t be denied that Naked Attraction holds some educational value. The way I see it, the more we get naked, the more realistic our perception of what a real body looks like. We would learn to love and embrace ourselves, instead of resenting ourselves for actually having a normal human body. From having the confidence knocked out of me throughout my teens, to being filled with body positivity as I watched Naked Attraction was almost euphoric. If one episode of Naked Attraction has that kind of power, then isn’t it time to get your kit off?
Original work by: Leah Crossman, Falmouth University, Journalism
Posted on NatCorn 18th December 2018