Gok Wan: Not so Nice After all?
by Holly Combe // 10 April 2008, 17:39
I've always felt a bit ambivalent about Gok Wan (i.e he's very charming, I want to like him but often find him patronising etc etc) so the latest news that he may not be as much of a crusader for self-esteem as How to Look Good Naked would have us believe is all very intriguing.
In brief, the story is this: Daisy Idwal Jones was employed as one of the models flanking the show's participants on the catwalk as they did their final walk of glory. Wan apparently turned the charm firmly off for the supporting models, calling them "slags" and "dirty little sluts" as he directed them. He also allegedly made references to their genitals. In addition to this, Idwal Jones states that she hadn't given consent to be filmed at any time other than when she was on the catwalk but was, nonetheless, interrupted and filmed in the changing room by the camera crew. When she told the producer how angry she was about this, she was simply told it would "make great TV."
There's definitely a strong hint in the comments for this article (and aren't the Daily Mail ones always a joy?) that Idwal Jones is just some “pass the smelling salts” type getting her knickers all in a twist about Wan's camp and vulgar humour but it seems to me that it wasn't the language that was the real problem here but the way it was directed. Personally, I don’t care what words he used. I'd simply say that behaving dismissively towards the models and directly insulting them, would be deeply hypocritical behaviour for someone doing a show that claims to be all about making people feel good.
There have also been suggestions from some commenters that Idwal Jones is just exaggerating the story in order to get publicity for the ethical agency that she is setting up. This is a fair point but, then again, it doesn't take a genius to suggest that she must have had some shitty treatment somewhere along the line to even see the need for such an agency in the first place. Sonja's comment on celebgalz.com backs this up:
...She gave this interview a year ago and the Mail tied it in with the start of the new series of HTLGN, not with Daisy launching her agency.
She was more bothered by Gok referring to her genitals (not on display, just to clear things up!) in front of a laughing film crew than the foul language he used in general, and I think it’s about time someone exposed the way so-called celebs are abusing fellow performers, as well as generally pointing a finger at the more unpleasant sides of the business. As a former actress myself I can really relate, and as her friend I know how shaken she was by the unprofessional treatment she received.
About time, too, agencies started treating models with the respect they deserve without withholding fees for months on end and encouraging girls to starve themselves! I don’t know how anyone can argue with that.
There's also some scathing commentary from Paul English in the Daily Record:
Judging by this show's central premise, Gok thinks the average woman's self-esteem is so low, it holds her back from doing all manner of things that would make her happier.
These seem to include wandering through shopping centres in the buff - watched by her mortified children - and padding down high streets in her scants.
Emily Pankhurst would be proud.
Then again, many of the girls caught up in the self-destructive psychological circle of shows like this (ie - feed women's neuroses, give them a make-over and smugly take their thanks and praise) probably think a suffragette is something they get under their eyes that can be covered up with a decent concealer.
Much as I want to like How to Look Good Naked, I'm starting to think perhaps the whole set-up is just a camped up version of the satirical man-takes-charge scenario that Lucy pointed out in the comments earlier today. I'm all for women and men crusading together but I do think something stinks when I see a woman who doesn't like her body being urged by an over-zealous self-esteem guru to slip into something "more feminine." As Natasha from London says in the Daily Mail Comments "Whatever happened to sisters doing it for themselves, not sisters getting a man to do it for them?"