Friday, 23 November 2012

I Want to Change My Body - Body Beautiful Season

The Body Beautiful Season Programme Banner
First Shown: Monday 19th of November, 21:00pm, BBC Three
Iplayer (available to 26th November): http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00tt4fr/I_Want_to_Change_My_Body/

Being the documentary nerd that I am, and someone who is passionate about encouraging self acceptance, BBC Three's new 'Body Beautiful' season seemed right up my street. So with my recorder set, I vowed to review and share my thoughts on each episode of the season. The series began with "I want to change my body". 

A girl with dark hair holds an orange card with 'Is it Normal?' written on it. BBC Three told thirty body conscious young people to film themselves as they make attempts to change their bodies forever. From boob jobs, to nose jobs, to diets, to hair transplants - this 1.5 hour insight was set to be an eye opener. What stood out to me instantly was the variety in the personalities of the contributors, some were stereotypically vain, whilst others were shy. I think that this, for me certainly, hit home that these days cosmetic surgery is not just for the rich and the vain, it is available to just about anyone with their payback plans and endless lists of performable procedures. Whether this is a good thing or not is another matter, statistics show that Britain is in body confidence crisis- and the amount of surgery available means that if you want it, you can have it. Raising the question: is it OK to be aesthetically real anymore?

One of the more unusual procedures that the programme covered was hair implantation, I had never heard of this before but I think it is great that it was featured in the film. Hair loss can really knock people's confidence, as we saw in contributor Matt. Matt's implantation was very successful and he described a huge boost in his self esteem. Awareness of these minor procedures could radically improve somebodies quality of life, and let them gain the self esteem they need to enjoy life like they used to. 

However it wasn't all merry and fine. One point I had to question the programme on was the inclusion of two young ladies, Chloe (19) and Alice (16). Chloe's hair caught alight in a traumatic accident earlier this year and since she has been confined to wear pressure garments 23 hours a day. I find her story really upsetting, and I admire her bravery enormously, but I don't understand what her role in the film was supposed to be. She wasn't wanting to change her body like her fellow contributors, she wanted to get it back. It wasn't a 'want' or a 'tweak' it was a medical and physical need. Perhaps her role in the film was to be a reminder that we should be grateful in our own skin, but if it was then this moral was put across very poorly. Likewise, Alice suffers with Alopecia, a medical condition which in her case has caused total hair loss. If Alice and Chloe went through a journey like the others did, such as seeing specialists, then it would of been nice to see that in the episode. These two brave girls seemed to be the odd ones out in this film. 

Another contributor who concerned me was 18 year old Chloe, who wanted to lose weight in order to be able to pursue her career as an actor. To do this Chloe was going to be going on a liquid diet in an attempt to lose four stone in four months. Liquid diets are highly discouraged by dietitians, due to the lack of nutrients in the drinks and the affect it has on the body's metabolism. However, they do cause fast, but temporary, weight loss. I was worried that if the film only showed Chloe losing weight successfully, and didn't show that very often when the liquid fast is stopped the weight is rapidly gained again, it would encourage this unhealthy lifestyle. I needn't have worried though, Chloe gave up on the diet after a few weeks and chose a healthier option of eating less and exercising more, and we even saw it work for her! It's great to see that the healthiest dieting technique was promoted.

A selection of images from the programme, including Chloe in her purple facial pressure garment.


Overall I found this programme very interesting, but I can't help questioning some of the BBC's choices regarding contributors. I think it is a great start to a, hopefully, eye opening season of insights into Britain's body confidence crisis.

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