When I write or tweet about reality television shows it’s not unusual for me to receive some kind of interaction from those that appear on the programme. For example, the First Dates ‘contestants’ (if you can call them that) will either laugh at my jokes.. or to tell me I’m bang out of order. However there’s another Channel 4 show that has captured the nation’s attention and that’s naked dating show Naked Attraction.
A show that shocks
When it first hit our screens in the summer it didn’t half provoke a reaction. Some 300 people complained to OFCOM (it seems people didn’t expect nudity on a show which has ‘naked’ in the title…). Others took to social media to claim to be offended yet still managed to watch a whole series of the show week in and week out. Series 1 got the nation talking, whether it was in a positive or negative light.
When one of my Twitter followers, 22-year-old student Emma, revealed she was going to be on the show, there was intrigue. Hadn’t she read the abuse? The damn right weird comments aimed at contestants on social media? The complaints from the modern day Mary Whitehouse? For an intelligent girl I was worried she was about to commit social suicide. Did she really need to put herself through it?
Yet Emma seemed confident about her decision when she agreed to answer a few questions for my blog. “I saw an advert before the programme had even aired on television and enquiried” she explained. “I’m pretty confident about myself and I’m not shy about nudity or my body, so thought I would try it” I told my housemates and they said I should go for it.”
Undeterred it sounded like the prospect of a challenge like this was what she relished. “It is something a bit different. It was a brand new show and they were hoping it would take it off. So it seemed like a great and daring opportunity. I have a big daring side to me!” she revealed.
But surely if you’re single and looking to find someone through a television dating show there are better options, I thought. How about Dinner Date, First Dates or even Take Me Out? “The other shows are a bit boring and this seemed more of a laugh as well”, she quickly retorted. As for her type, she doesn’t think she has one, so she is probably well suited for the programme. “I am all over the place in life and the same with my choice in men!”
The show has been accused of objectifying bodies and degrading contestants who appear on it, particularly women. Emma remains defiant about the programme and the comments that could be levied at her. “I am not really worried, people can say what they want! I am on Twitter so expect to cop some comments. It is weird, there are two sexes and both have the same body parts so I’m not really sure what the paranoia is with seeing people naked… we all know what people have. I say two words, Adam and Eve! Or maybe that’s three!”
Some of the responses to those complaining about the show is that there is an off button on the remote control, and they’re not forced to watch. This is something Emma agrees with. “If people don’t like it then that is up to them. I don’t see any harm in it, its natural and people have the option to watch or not.”
A sociological experiment?
Naked Attraction reminds me of the earlier days of Big Brother, although viewers have been quicker to judge based on the premise alone. You could argue the programme is an interesting sociological experiment, even if it doesn’t strike you as one at first. The show discusses people’s pubic hair, breast sizes, people’s fetishes, and body types. The sort of things you wouldn’t see too many programmes on British television to delve into. Emma seemed inclined to agree. “It is quite interesting to actually hear what the other sex looks for in a partner. That’s not something people usually discuss [on television or in real life].”
However it is clear the producers do realise the impact the show could have on someone’s life. All contestants are prepped for a possible media or social media backlash. She explained: “The people at the show actually talked to us at length about coping with comments and stuff like that but I doubt it will bother me. I’ve got the same body as any other girl, the only difference is I am happy with mine and don’t mind people seeing. And everyone else on the show is of the same mentality.”
For someone so confident about her body though it was unsurprising to learn stripping off in front of the cameras to be seen on national television did cause some anxieties. “It was nerve-wracking at first but I was one of six girls doing it so we kind of laughed it off between us and humoured ourselves through”. And yet it’s not a quick process, a half an hour stint can involve a lot of filming. “They said they can range from 8 to 12 hours for one episode and mine took just over 8 hours. Most of that time is naked!”
A long time to be undressed even for the most confident of person, but she explained there were breaks, and the production crew keep contestants happy throughout. “I had a lazy day with plenty of sleep before the big day to compensate! Anna [the host] was friendly and made it fun and we spent a bit of time with her off camera. She is very passionate about the show and that rubs off on everyone.”
Naked Attraction continues to divide opinion. Tuning into a programme which begins with a parade of penises or vaginas instantly provides a shock factor. For the blonde turned redhead the prospect of having to reveal everything was the biggest conundrum for her. As one of six girls on the show, all eyes were going to be on her. “I kept asking if showing off my f***y on television was something I wanted to do. People seeing my body head to toe is fine, but all of the girls agreed this was the one area we felt awkward having discussed! There was a good discussion about pubic hair though, and for a girl it’s important you get that right before getting naked.”
Yet there is one other scene that to viewers seems the most embarrassing… the naked hug between the main chooser and the six other contestants, something Emma admits was awkward. “The studio is quite warm, especially with all of the lights on and the guy was a bit sweaty when I hugged him! And I did feel him brush my inside leg! But nothing happened too embarrassing – just a few people lost for words at certain points!”
For this contestant the filming was an exhilarating process, and a further boost of confidence appearing on the show. “My body went down well!” she revealed. “I didn’t have a ‘bad body day’ which was good. I had been watching my diet over the previous week to hope it paid off. I was told my boobs looked good, which is always pleasing to hear.”
And as for her the ‘worst’ features did they get commented on? “I like my bum and legs the most, but I’m not keen on my feet or nose. When they ask you that on the show it draws attention to them, so it seems it’s better to say something else!”
Naked Attraction Series 2
Emma didn’t reveal how she got on during the show, and whether she bagged herself a date, so we will have to wait until Series 2 air to find out. Presently it’s scheduled to air in the New Year on Channel 4. She says she has kept in touch with the five other female contestants, and is hoping for a get together when the show is finally aired.