The Hairy Issue of Realty TV

I don’t watch a lot of TV these days. I have a big old TV in my house that I use to watch VHS tapes and DVDs and play the occasional video game, but it isn’t hooked up to any kind of cable situation. So the TV I catch is either specifically sought out on the internet a la Netflix, or something I notice playing on a screen in a restaurant/bar. And this weekend, while out with a couple of friends, the venue happened to be playing a television program called “Naked and Afraid.”

This is how the show works: a man and a woman are dropped in some remote location where they must survive. Naked.

I like to imagine a bunch of television people sat down for a meeting somewhere in LA and some man said “hey, we should do another survivor/Bear Gryllis type show,” and one of the other men in the room said “nah, plain ol’ survival shows are lame,” so another guy suggested, “why don’t we make the participants naked?” BINGO!

And interesting it is–for the first few minutes. But both the participants and the viewers get over the nudity factor and, about 5 minutes into any given episode,  it’s no longer a big deal. If anything, it becomes a little bit annoying (OMG. SEX. WE GET IT.) and slightly confusing.

See here’s the thing–I know I should consume all reality television with a grain of salt. Nothing is ever going to be truly “real” with a camera crew following you around and ratings to be considered. But I really can’t get over the fact that, after 21 days, none of these women have hairy armpits. Are the shows producers really that opposed to showing hairy women on the screen as their male counter parts grow grungier and grungier? Do they allow these women to temporarily turn off “survival mode” so they can shave before going back in front of the camera?

One of the producers for Survivor was asked a similar question about hygiene and he claimed to have no idea, chalking it up to pre-show lazer hair removal or something.  And maybe that’s true for some, but all of the women? Really?

I accept the fact that reality TV is anything but real. But maybe it could be cool to see a less-than-perfect looking woman on reality TV. It’s not just hairiness–it’s also a lack of variety in body shape/size, race, gender identity and sexual orientation. Skinny, hairless white women are not the only ones capable of surviving nearly a month in a wild environment.

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