The purpose of our blog is to discuss topical issues, stories, and situations, as well as to share what we are up to and new ways for you to get involved. We are always searching for possible answers to the question: Why is a girl's worth culturally and historically relative?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Positive Objectification?

Gok Wan helps insecure ladies feel good about their bodies
Photo: Channel 4


Confession time! I normally dislike reality TV shows, be they the semi-staged nightmare that is Keeping Up with the Kardashians or ‘self-help’ type shows like The Biggest Loser. Except one: Gok Wan’s How to Look Good Naked.

For those unfamiliar with this concept, stylist Gok Wan helps women with extremely low body confidence to embrace their bodies, no matter what they look like, by showing them how to dress their particular body type. This is achieved through various shock tactics, including a headless shot of the woman’s body wearing only her underwear in a public space and then asking strangers for their opinion; shooting a (tasteful) naked photo of her; making her strut down a catwalk in a shopping mall in her underwear; and posing her (once again, tastefully) naked in a shop window in a busy high street.

Writing it all down makes it all sound ... pretty awful, actually. It’s objectification of a woman’s body, pure and simple, which we’ve often talked about as a negative. But can it ever be positive? It is nice to see an ordinary female body on TV and hear positive comments about it. Women of all ages and body types appear in the show and it does appear that Gok’s interventions have a positive effect on many of their lives, with some going on to change careers, start new relationships, or mend old ones. These women’s opinions of their bodies are so negative that it has an impact on their self-esteem as a whole – and therefore their entire lives. Much of this loathing probably comes from society’s obsession the ‘perfect’ body and a constant bombardment of impossible to recreate in real life images.

Promoting real women’s bodies as beautiful no matter what they look like is in my opinion a positive step. Still, I can’t help but feel that maybe we need to start celebrating women for their lives and achievements, and not just their bodies.

-Sarah Jackson
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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