8pm last night saw me eagerly awaiting the start of How to look good naked...with a difference. It's a show I've previously watched, but not for more than a few episodes, because frankly it gets boring very quickly. Women with low self esteem, tall, short, fat, thin, old, young...it all blurs into one not very memorable blur after you've seen enough of them weep on Gok's sympathetic shoulder then emerge triumphant and nude at the end. Even with my lack of short term memory it's too reminiscent of being a goldfish, so if the series hadn't been featuring a disabled woman it wouldn't have occurred to me to watch it.
I was still unsure what I thought throughout last night's show. The whole concept of disability as 'a difference' requiring it's own series unsettled me. That may have been why I found myself predisposed to dislike the show, but it didn't stop me enjoying it.
There were a few cringe worthy moments, particularly in the scenes filmed at the university, but overall Gok and his team have alot to be proud of. Although Occupational Therapists get very upset about such things, the scenes with Gok sitting on Tracy's knee whilst she self propelled the wheelchair were the closest to the reality of the way disabled people and their friends treat wheelchairs I've ever seen. The fashion advice tailored specifically to the needs of a full time wheelchair user with minor, inexpensive alterations to make jeans easy to put on, or sit comfortably in were excellent, as was the pimped wheelchair they gave Tracy before the final catwalk show. In fact the wheelchair was so cool I might have to apply to the series myself!
It was fantastic to see so many women with disabilities on a mainstream fashion show on prime time TV. That they still all fitted the ideal of slim and sexy could be viewed as disappointing but in a show particularly aiming to promote the idea of disabled people in fashion seems to me a stroke of genuis. After watching the show I was still left feeling that disability should not be considered to require it's own, different series when the concept is to bring women to a point of acceptance of their bodies, no matter how they look. In the future I want to see disabled women as part of the overall How to Look Good Naked series, but for a first step this show is a great stride forwards.