“So, what do you think of Green’s vagina?”
Not a sentence you hear every day but hop on over to E4 at around 10pm and the fabulous Anna Richardson will be saying something just like that.
Ah Naked Attraction – we love it, we hate it… my Nan once confessed she watches it when my Grandad goes to bed.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, let me catch you up. The show, hosted by Anna Richardson, sees a member of the public attempt to find a date from six naked hopefuls in colourful boxes. The naked bodies are revealed from feet to face with potential love interests eliminated each round.
As the show claims – they’re starting “where a good date ends.”
Unlike the toned and tanned bodies we see in mainstream media such as Love Island, or even in porn, the bodies on Naked Attraction are a variety of shapes and sizes. Whether its something as simple as height or as complex as the shape of our labia [it’s just a word guys] – Naked Attraction is guaranteed to have a body type just like our own.
But is Naked Attraction good for body positivity?
The term ‘body positivity’ can have two potential definitions according to Daisy Richards, 27, lecturer in media and communications at Nottingham Trent University.
“It’s really important to acknowledge the roots of body positivity as a liberation-based movement originally pioneered by marginalised bodies – queer people, people of colour, disabled and transgressional bodies – the movement was an almost protest against lack of representation in the media’” says Daisy.
“What we’re seeing now on social media is a commercialised version of that – so there’s a real tension between its roots and what is the more contemporary, social media friendly version.”
#Bodypositivity has seen an increased use in recent years, with Instagram boasting 1.8M posts to date. Scars, stretch marks and even armpit hair are not uncommon on posts using the hashtag. But as Daisy states, it’s all very social media friendly… there’s nothing we wouldn’t see in a Dove advert.
This is where Naked Attraction comes in.
Social media manager and blogger, Jessica Flavell, 25, from Barnsley, regularly watches the show. “I don’t think there’s a lot of places in life where you genuinely see normal people’s bodies – everything is either filtered or edited,” says Jessica.
But the show has allowed Jessica to have open discussions about her own body image with her partner, friends and even her mum, all of whom she has watched the show with.
“The little snippets where the show explains possible body insecurities like inverted nipples or cellulite are vital. It’s normalising normal bodies,” she adds.
As Queen Anna Richardson herself told Closer Online the show makes us think “actually my body’s not so bad, I look a bit like that.”
It’s not just the variety of body types that makes Naked Attraction stand out. The show has broken boundaries by having transgender, non-binary contestants. Something many other shows have yet to do. Thank you Channel 4.
Scottish beauty Amira was the first transgender woman to appear on the show in 2019 and has gone down in Naked Attraction history for her hilarious and upfront attitude. Since then, a variety of characters have gained a place on the Naked Attraction Hall of Fame.
75-year-old Ian – a naturist who wanted to explore his sexuality after his wife’s death, Pablo who wanted to break the stigma surrounding being HIV positive, and sex toy tester Hayley who has cerebral palsy are all examples of fabulous contestants that have appeared on the programme to show off their personalities… and a little bit more.
It’s the show’s unique openness and acceptance of people and their differences which have made it extremely popular with viewers and contestants alike. In fact, according to research by Parrot Analytics, Naked Attraction sees an average demand of 5.6 times the amount of other programmes on UK television.
And perhaps this is due to its body positive stance or perhaps its more due to our late-night fascination with nakedness.
Hezron Stephenson, 27, from Coventry, was a constant on the show in March this year. Although Stephenson didn’t find lasting love on the show, he says he would recommend the programme to anyone.
“I found the whole experience so freeing. I’m not very confident clothed as I find I’ve got no shape whatsoever, so it was good to show off everything and let people see that thinner guys can have lovely bodies,” says Hezron via social media.
Producers of Naked Attraction ensure that contestants and host Anna Richardson never make negative comments on body types.
“You have to be courteous, you can’t just say that someone is too large, its about putting a positive before a negative,” adds Hezron.
Is Naked Attraction good for body positivity? Credit: Mike Dorner via Unsplash
Daisy argues, however, that the original sentiment of the body positive movement is now evolving into a new form which she would call body liberation – where a person views their body as a tool to live their life, rather than an object of desire.
Whether Naked Attraction would align with this is unlikely as everything from hairy toes to eyelashes are scrutinised by contestants looking for love. But perhaps by promoting an acceptance of our bodies, the show is making steps towards a body liberation mindset.
Jess Blackwell, 25, assistant studio manager at Divine Divas Boudoir, is very much acquainted with getting people in a body positive mentality for shoots in the studio.
“It can be really easy to let the negative and unkind voice take over, people have a distorted sense of self, so the experience at the boudoir offers evidence of what their body actually looks like,” says Jess.
“Naked Attraction plays a similar role of exposing realistic bodies, people have a lot of shame around their bodies and the show really tries to discourage that.”
So while Naked Attraction is a fun and at times funny watch, its clear that the shows ethos about showing all bodies is doing a great thing for body positivity.
And I can’t wait for the next series.