|This week I caught up with mental health superhero and my friend Natasha Devon, about her new TV show ‘Naked Beach.’ The theme for this years Mental Health Awareness Week is; body image – how we think and feel about our bodies. So I was delighted when Tash told me about her latest project, and I took the opportunity to grill her! |
Tell me about ‘Naked Beach’ – what’s the basic premise?
Naked Beach is a social experiment based on the research of Dr Keon West (a Reader at Goldsmiths University) which shows that spending time surrounded by a diverse range of naked bodies improves body image. This makes total sense if you think about it – we know exposure to highly photoshopped, filtered images has a negative impact on body confidence, it’s taking that and flipping it on its head.
Dr Keon and I selected 8 body positive influencers to spend time doing specifically selected activities with people who have v low body image scores at a Greek retreat. Naked Beach charts the journeys of these ‘guests’ as they have their negative feelings about their bodies challenged.
What makes this show different from other body confidence shows?
We aren’t asking the guests to change anything other than their perspective – It’s not about wearing clothes that ‘flatter’ them, or weight loss – Just acceptance of the body they have.
Why did you want to be part of this project?
The show is made by Barefaced TV, a production company run by women and an absolute joy to work with. I could immediately see they weren’t out to exploit anyone and they took the science element very seriously. I saw immediately the value in the idea and what I could bring to it (After speaking at length to each guest about how low body confidence was impacting their life, I helped devise the activities they’d be doing at the retreat).
On the surface, going to a naked island seems intense! Can you explain the theory behind this?
(Without giving too much away).
Nudity is everywhere, but it’s a very carefully curated sort – it isn’t reflective of real bodies at all. Even on the beach, people have started wearing heels with their bikinis and photoshopping their selfies. It means we have a completely false idea of what a real body looks like. For example, if you get naked and stamp your foot a part of you will jiggle. Doesn’t matter how slender or toned you are, that’s an inevitability. Yet we never see bodies jiggling so when it happens in the privacy of our shower we think it’s abnormal. We’re just trying to give an indication of what bodies really look like to reverse that kind of anxiety.
What’s your favourite part of your own body?
I love my legs. They’re really strong, take me on all the walks I want to go on and they’re really long (which means I have no center of gravity and often fall over for no reason but I’d say it’s worth it for how fast I can walk and hard I can kick).
Overall, what do you hope the show will achieve?
I hope it will make people think about the environment we inhabit and the impact it’s having on them – if being exposed to something different can have such a dramatic effect then it must cause us to question the body indoctrination we endure from birth.
Naked Beach starts tonight at 8pm on Channel 4. I’ll be watching, so join me on Twitter for some live tweeting!