Dating show Adam Looking For Eve is based on the idea that our naked self is our truest self. But is running around naked really the best way to get to know a potential partner’s deepest feelings? Isn't nudity really a way of hiding our true selves?
There's nothing honest about dating naked. Once you get past all the fun of ogling the completely and totally naked contestants on the desert island dating show Adam Looking For Eve – and let’s be honest, not all of us will want to get past that – the justification for the un-pixelated nudity is that by meeting each other sans clothing, the would-be lovers can get at the “naked truth” about each other. Without clothes to hide their flaws, the logic runs, they’re each forced to deal with each other as they truly are – thereby forging a richer, deeper bond. And maybe get sunburnt in all manner of awkward places.
Yes, watching people dating naked on TV does make for hugely entertaining TV, but for us romantics, one wonders whether nudding up for a date is the best way to find love?
Just how much sense does the idea that our naked selves is the most honest representation of a person really make? Obviously the fact that “the naked truth” is a widely understood turn of phrase suggests that, for English-speakers at least, we generally do believe that stripping something or someone down to the bare essentials will reveal something essential about them. Clothes are a great way to hide things we want to conceal about our bodies: perhaps then, trying to hide things from your partner isn’t the best possible way to go into a new relationship.
What’s more revealing of your inner self: a t-shirt featuring a political slogan that you’ve decided to wear with pride even though you know people will stare at you, or the dimples on your arse? We choose our clothes to reflect who we think we are, even if that person is “a person who doesn’t care about clothes”, and that self-image is an important part of who we are. Why does taking that vital method of personal display away from someone magically reveal more about them? What happens if you go on a big nude date with someone you think you’re making a real connection with, then the moment it’s time to get dressed they slip on a footy jumper –and you hate sport?
That’s not to mention the fact that we, like it or not, spend most of our lives clothed. We even spend most of our time with our partners clothed. Unless you happen to live on a tropical island, nudist beach, or hospital ward with extremely ill-fitting gowns, you’re going to be wearing some kind of clothing most of the time. Why would you think seeing someone in a state they’re hardly ever going to be in would be the best way to get to know who they really are? It’s like assuming the best way to learn who someone “really is” is to watch them on the toilet.
And let us consider the main reason why people get naked in front of one another. On the one hand, everyone should be fully and completely accepted by their partners for who they are in all their naked glory; on the other hand, people are weird about sex, not everything about everybody turns everybody else on and sometimes when two people come together the imagination comes in very handy. There are lots of people in at least reasonably happy relationships based on not intentionally seeing each other naked outside of dark rooms, and especially not seeing each other naked outdoors in the harsh light of noon on a tropical island. That is not mood lightning, unless the mood is “getting sunburnt in places that were never meant to see the sun”.
So is Adam Looking For Eve nothing more than an extremely thin excuse to have a bunch of extremely naked people wandering around on a beach each week? Of course not (though would it be such a bad thing if it was?). Obviously seeing someone naked can tell you a lot about them. What kind of genitals they have, for starters. Whether they have a lot of tattoos. The various shaving options they’ve chosen. Circumcision, if your gaze happens to wander in that direction. The dimples on their arse.
But once you get past idle curiosity or arousal (or medical examination), the main reason why we want to see somebody naked is because that signals a level of access to them that not everybody gets. It’s a sign of closeness – you want to know what someone you’re attracted to looks like naked because you want to be somebody who gets to see them naked.
The only thing being naked in front of a stranger on a reality TV show says about you is that you’re willing to get naked in front of a stranger on the telly. And let’s be honest, that kind of thing is pretty important to know up front (*cough*). It does offer insight into the kind of person you’re getting involved with, something that cuts right to the core of who they are and whether you want to get involved with them. Even if that’s all you learn about them from seeing them naked, it’s something definitely worth knowing.
So it turns out Adam Looking For Eve actually is a great way to find out something really deep and insightful about a potential partner; that thing just isn’t going to be their fashion sense.
Follow the author on Twitter: @morrbeat
Adam Looking For Eve airs every Friday night on SBS VICELAND at 8:30pm. You can stream episodes when the mood strikes via SBS On Demand: