Last night there were two programmes shown on prime-time TV exploring the way women perceive themselves.
The first was Gok Wan’s new incarnation as the presenter of Miss Naked Beauty; a Channel 4 series which seeks to empower and liberate women though shock tactics which expose the levels of unrealistic pressures on the way they look. Few have swallowed this agenda, however.
Just a week after the show first aired the Sunday Mirror claimed Gok had “humiliated, demeaned and exploited” the women taking part. The section in question revolved around the participants having their make-up removed by being hosed-down by Wan.
Wan has since defended the show on ITN, but the outcry has raised some serious questions about the wisdom of shows which offer self-help through changing the clothes and make-up of people with already low self-esteem. Trinny and Susannah he is not, but many people are claiming the presenter’s shows are little better in their aims.
The BBC decided to broach perception of body image last night, in its challenge cum documentry entitled How Mad are You? One of the few participants they correctly diagnosed was Alex, who considered herself a recovered anorexic. The deciding factor for their diagnosis was her gross overestimation of her body size on a test which asked her to adjust an image of herself to what she considered her actual size. She was 30 percent over. It was explained that people in this country often over estimate their size but usually only by around 5 percent. Interestingly, a woman who had been diagnosed with depression found the task the hardest to complete.
The documentaries contrasted sharply, with guidance and commentry being offered by fashion expert Gok Wan and musician Mylene Klass in one and by professional psyciatrists in another. As one participant in Miss Naked Beauty was told by James Brown, former editor of Loaded, her picture looked like it should have a phone number put under it, we really have to ask exactly what Channel 4 are planning to achieve with this Campaign for Naked Beauty.