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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jewett

Body of knowledge: Channel 4’s Naked Beach

Updated: May 27, 2021

Mental-health campaigner Natasha Devon gave fascinating insight into using the Channel 4 Naked Beach programme as an educational resource for teaching about body image on 28 August at the University of West London. In her Naked Beach Training lecture, Devon talked about overseeing last April’s body-confidence programme with psychologist Dr Keon West of Goldsmiths University. Their studies show that “people’s body image, self-esteem and life satisfaction could be vastly improved by seeing more normal, naked bodies (as opposed to media-perfect ones) and spending more time with our own naked bodies”.

On Naked Beach, three people with low body self-esteem joined eight naked, exuberantly body-decorated hosts on a Greek island to come to terms with their inhibitions. The Mirror dubbed it a perfect antidote to Love Island.

Forceful and articulate, the outspoken Devon – appointed children’s mental-health tsar then sacked by the Department for Education in 2016 around being critical of the government – brought up points such as:

  • Double standards “Up to recently we still had Page 3, yet breastfeeding is still seen as objectionable. In the UK nudity is acceptable if it’s sexual”

  • Correlations between exercise and lowered self-esteem “In year 9 there is a polarisation with girls: for some exercise is their life, while others are actively trying to avoid it”

  • Increasing dissatisfaction among young men “Why are more young men affected by body image and dissatisfaction? Gender roles are changing: women’s value used to be determined by their looks and men’s by earning money. Now women earn money too”

  • Advice for teenagers “Do an audit of your Instagram feed. How diverse is it? Is there one body type? Unfollow or mute anyone who makes you feel insecure about your body image. Diversity will improve your confidence”

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