Naked Ambition

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. (Genesis 3:7)

gok.jpg I was doing a cursory channel hop the other night (how you must envy me) when I came across a programme called How to Look Good Naked. The premise (for those who have thus far forgotten to tune in) is simple: a somewhat dowdy but pleasant-enough lady is placed in the care of uber-effeminate stylist Gok Wan. His mission is to get said woman to overcome that ingrained impulse to remain clothed in public. And thus the stage is set.

I only caught the uplifting denouement of the last show, in which the fruit of Gok Wan’s latest labour was (quite literally) displayed for all to see. Being able to wear a bikini in the middle of a shopping centre is no doubt a useful skill, and I certainly don’t deny that the lady in question looked most appealing as she paraded around in the near-altogether. However, I would probably question whether this behaviour, in itself, proves that one Looks Good Naked. I doubt this would be the verdict of the majority (or indeed the police) were I to give it a go.

Compelling as these programs are, I can’t help thinking they promote a weird, confusing ideology. On the one hand, looks are seen as the most important thing in a person’s identity. So much so that a smug Sarth Efrickan might suggest that you undergo the sort of surgery that leaves you looking like the recently beaten up, in order that she can parade you up and down the beach getting the public to guess your age. Brrr.

On the other, we’re also told that what we look like doesn’t really matter, and it’s what’s inside that counts. As Trinny would say (whilst laying a patronising hand on the shoulder of her latest frumpy protégé), ‘I think that the clothes are just the surface of this problem, Suze’.

This tension is nicely embodied in the How to Look Good Naked Site. It starts off saying all the right things, like how the media sets us unrealistic standards for what we should look like, and how we should be confident with what we’ve got and learn to respect ourselves. All very sensible, I’m sure. Then it gives us a list of 8 rules (not recommendations, mind) on which to base a beauty regime, which, if carried out to the letter, would probably take the best part of a week. And since they’re rules to be followed on a ‘weekly basis’, the whole process becomes suspiciously like painting the Forth Bridge: once you’ve finished, it’s already time to start again.

Have a look at the rules if you’re worried you’re falling short of the minimum aesthetic standard. I won’t reproduce them all here, but will mention one particular maxim with which I was quite taken: ‘your muff area should always be maintained’. Only the effeminate could get away with it.

What a lot of pressure. We’ve got to be grounded, confident people, whilst also maintaining an A-list appearance. It isn’t easy. But here’s a good tip for all those (like me) who fail to find solace at the spectacle of their naked selves.

Wear clothes.

Explore posts in the same categories: Culture, Psychology, TV

4 Comments on “Naked Ambition”

  1. Hannah Says:

    An excellent piece of advice, Doug. I hate the smug Sarth Efrickan, and think the world would be done a huge favour if someone subjected her to a well-placed knife. And as for Trinny and Susannah, don’t get me started on what they wear…

  2. Wee Gorbals Says:


    Is Gok Wan miscast as presenter of ‘How to look good naked’? I have a strong internal sensation that I wouldn’t like to see him naked. Yet perhaps that makes him perfect for this. Has anyone seen him naked? Did he look good? Hats off ( in fact all vestment) to him if he pulled it off.

  3. hi Gok, i was wondering if you could help me, because i don’t have the right taste in clothes to fit my shape.

    Hannah loveday
    from Pinner, Middx

  4. Doug Says:

    Seriously guys. This is what I’m talking about.

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