Gok Wan: Not so Nice After all?

// 10 April 2008

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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?”

Comments From You

Anji // Posted 10 April 2008 at 10:08 pm

Wow, you’re fast! I only sent that email about this last night and there’s an article about it today. Lightning-quick, you F-Word writers. :D

Laura // Posted 10 April 2008 at 11:58 pm

I forced myself to watch HTLGN once, after various people insisted that it was very different from other make over shows. It is, insofar as it doesn’t use plastic surgery or create insecurity or “defects” in the subjects in order to “cure” them. And in the one show I watched, Gok did make the woman feel much better about herself, much more confident.

But, even discounting the contents of the Mail article, it’s hardly feminist, certainly not radical, and I don’t think it’s even pro-women. It is based on the premise that women can only feel good about their bodies if they conform to the mainstream, sexy, feminine, “grown up” (in the case of the episode I watched) image of woman. And, yeah, they will feel good if they can achieve this, because it means they fit into society, they are acceptable. But this challenges nothing. It’s not about celebrating women’s bodies, just teaching women to conform. You reckon Gok and Channel 4 and the fashion and beauty industry that create and feed off women’s insecurity and hatred of our bodies would be very happy if I marched naked through a shopping mall, make-up less, with two years’ worth of body hair? You think they’d see me as empowered? A real woman? Good looking (not that I care, but that’s the premise)? I doubt it.

Oh, and he used those scary looking tummy hold-in pants in the show I watched – why not just stick a label on her tummy saying “unacceptable”?

mia // Posted 11 April 2008 at 11:48 am

Alright, you know, I’ve said this before and I will say it again. HTLGN is a bunch of revolting bollocks? Why? Lets count the ways, shall we?

1. A woman is only encouraged to feel good as a sexual object

2. A woman is only encouraged to feel good as a sexual object when her looks are accepted by OTHER people.

3. Every show includes a line up women in the underwear, in varying degrees of weight. They are arranged like cattle, from fattest to thinnest, and the contestant is made to say where she thinks she fits. Of course, she is meant to be overjoyed when she finds out that she is not as fat as the fat cow she thought she resembled. Hurrah! Never mind that that poor woman, and those surrounding her, have just become an example of ‘unacceptable’ weight.

HTLGN has nothing to do with making women feel good. As long as we are being sized, measured, compared and categorised we will not be free to love ourselves for ourselves.

Marie // Posted 11 April 2008 at 1:00 pm

I’ve always had mixed feelings about this show (and I think I’ve commented on them on this site in the past).

Having watched the new series, I’m now definitely anti-HTLGN. I always thought that the naked photo shoot was an ok idea, not great, but y’know, whatever floats your boat.

But the new “and now it’s time for you to pose naked in a shop window” replacement for the photo shoot? Hate it, hate it, hate it. Why do we have to pose naked in front of an audience in a shop window in Oxford St to feel good about ourselves? I also felt GW was being pushy to get the women to do it, not supportive, which made me feel darned uncomfortable.

I think on balance that it’s a really retrograde and sexist idea. Taking off your clothes in public = confidence and liberation? Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. And don’t get me started on where. A naked woman in a shop window? Is anyone else making the same, obvious mental link as me?

Yeugh. It’s off my Sky+, that’s for sure.

sian // Posted 11 April 2008 at 1:25 pm

i’ve only seen it once because it was on in a room i was in, so not sure if i am qualified to comment, but i was incredibly frustrated by his continually referring to the women as “my girl” or “my girls”.

i found it so patronising, and well, wrong.

so they don’t use plastic surgery but there is still this focus on the woman looking wrong and needing to be changed, by fake tan, make up, waxes etc. i certainly didn’t find it feminist.

grat daily mail commenting as usual tho. liked the “she’s a model, she should be used to being spoken to like that.” where do they come from?!

Holly Combe // Posted 11 April 2008 at 1:41 pm

Oh dear… I’ve not seen the latest series but the shop window thing sounds awful. What were they thinking?

I’d forgotten about the HTLGN practice of lining women up according to size and getting “Gok’s girl” to say where she was on the scale. What a sour taste that leaves…

Holly Combe // Posted 11 April 2008 at 2:34 pm

On reflection, perhaps that Daily Record quote I included was a bit unfair. I mean the HTLGN participants have already been patronised by Gok and then Paul English comes along and suggests that they’re so unliberated that they don’t even know what a suffragette is. Isn’t this a double-dose of insults?

ohdearyme // Posted 12 April 2008 at 5:10 pm

I find it hilarious that you bloggers spend most of your articles criticising the daily mail, saying how anti-women it is and how garbage it is, you cant understand why anyone who want to read it apart from women who hate themselves blah blah. Yet, you derive almost all your blogging articles from the Daily Mail!! How contradictory is that! Not only that …but you also believe everything thats reported in the mail! Has it not occur to you that the model who made those accusations was just promoting her new job? Not only that, but you dont realise that the daily mail readers are predominantly female! Another thing, I dont see you criticising other shows like trinny and susannah which are equally as bad, is that because theyre female presenters? Or do you just have a problem the presenter because hes a man? bearing in mind, hes not quite a man, hes a well known 100% homosexual!

Holly Combe // Posted 14 April 2008 at 6:19 pm

“Hilarious”? Are you sure? Because that sounds to me like the bitter talk of a person who finds the idea of feminist critique rather threatening and would prefer to imagine a bunch of foolish, neurotic women who can’t help but unknowingly rise to the Daily Mail’s bait.

Personally, I find it quite funny (though, admittedly, not “hilarious”) that you’ve devoted a whole comment to making inflammatory claims that you make no effort whatsoever to back up:

1. “You derive almost all your blogging articles from the Daily Mail!”

Over the month of April so far, the F-word blog has linked to approximately 189 pages and just 7 of them were on the Daily Mail website. I think we can safely conclude that is not “almost all” don’t you?

In all seriousness, I do appreciate that the Daily Mail is generally a place where one would expect bigotry and that this lends some weight to the argument that we shouldn’t waste a disproportionate amount of time on the anti-feminist articles they publish. (What do others think about this?) However, I would still say some critique is called for. In my opinion, a complete absence of it would mean letting retrogressive views on gender go unchecked. This would help to enable such lazy thinking to further weave its way back into the dominant fabric of society.

Sometimes, I think people forget that embracing the principle of free speech isn’t about just rolling over and saying “oh well, you’re entitled to your opinion. Who am I to argue?” Free speech enables us to argue against ideas we don’t like.

2: “…You can’t understand why anyone would want to read the Daily Mail apart from women who hate themselves.”

I don’t recall any of us ever saying this. Care to supply a link?

3: “You also believe everything that’s reported in the mail!”

Again, I’d suggest you need to read in a little more depth because, much of the time, we are arguing that the spin the Daily Mail has put on a topic is not doing it justice.

4. “Has it not occur to you that the model who made those accusations was just promoting her new job?”

Yes. That particular concern was discussed in my original blog post. Didn’t you read it properly?

5. “…You dont realise that the daily mail readers are predominantly female!”

Well, as far as I can recall, none of us has ever claimed the Daily Mail readership is predominantly any sex over another so I really can’t see what led you to that conclusion. Perhaps you think we’re such rabid man-haters that the oh-so-startling revelation that some Conservative material is produced by or enjoyed by women will send us into a helpless rage. Perhaps you reckon it will make us choke on our words and say “Shit! It was the women all along! We may as well pack up and go home!”

6. “…I dont see you criticising other shows like trinny and susannah which are equally as bad, is that because theyre female presenters?”

Actually, Trinny and Susannah have been criticised quite a few times on the F-word. Here are a just a few examples:





My own opinion of Trinny and Susannah is, in many ways, similar to the one I have of Gok Wan: ambivalent. A positive aspect, in my opinion, is that the women in the shows (and, no, I haven’t missed the fact that men are sometimes featured too) undergo a process of transformation that reminds us that “feminine” style is not the effortless natural essence of being female but a superficial thing that is created and learned. This, however, is probably outweighed by the many things that I don’t like about both shows.

7. “Or do you just have a problem the presenter because hes a man? bearing in mind, hes not quite a man, hes a well known 100% homosexual!”

No, obviously not (see 6) and what a blatant double-whammy of sexism and homophobia you display!

Perhaps you need to check your own assumptions before you attempt to highlight those of others?

Danielle // Posted 14 April 2008 at 9:20 pm

Holly, I vigorously applaud your most excellent retort to the idiotic ohdearyme! It did make me laugh, particularly the bit about packing up and going home.

I’ve read so many depressing articles today (including that awful one about witch-hunts in India), so thank you for making my day :)

Juliet // Posted 14 April 2008 at 10:56 pm

ohdearyme (admirable choice of pseudonym there!) seems to be referring to a response by McDuff to the ‘Daily Mail Attacks “curvy” Miss England finalist” post by Samara Ginsberg on 11th April. The full quote was, “they’re (Daily Mail readers) either men who hate women or women who hate themselves”. Call me a nitpicker. I just wanted to check.

I think it’s vital that virulently anti-feminist publications such as the Daily Hate are regularly monitored by the F-Word and other feminist sites, in order to be able to counteract at least some of the misogynistic bullshit they put out.

Cara // Posted 23 April 2008 at 1:04 pm

Hmmm. I used to quite like HTLGN, at least it put out the message that real women are not stick insects.

This new series, however…well…

yes, the posing in shop windows…objectification, much?

And last night Gok made “his girl” (yeah, I hate that) learn…POLE DANCING! ‘Cos it is like liberating and sexy, ha.

Add to which he seemed to be going on about making her look more “feminine” by wearing frilly, pastel clothes and heels. ‘Cos obviously a woman cannot look attractive without 6 inch heels and pink frills.

Naz // Posted 18 June 2008 at 2:50 am

Seriously, Bravo for the article you’ve written, its like my long-held frustration being expressed into words because, quite frankly, I don’t know where to start when it comes to Gok Wan.

I REALLY do not like Mr. Wan. and the ideas he tries to oppress onto peoples minds. Worried for the little girls and boys in particularly…

Thanks for this article,

Feminist Alli

Emma // Posted 4 July 2008 at 9:14 pm

I do watch HTLGN and yes you all do have some points in your arguemens but think of the women he has helped and reffering to the other women he has on his show they feel confident about their bodies to appear on the show.

Yes what he said and did to the various models was wrong I cannot defend him on that he had no right to say an do the things he did but he is one of he few people who has not used plasic surgery as a way to get women to love heir bodies again.

Me // Posted 11 July 2008 at 11:58 pm

Firstly the women that go on HTLGN have chosen to do so, they are grown ups who are advised about the show and what to expect and based on this still chose to go on the.

Surely part of being a strong woman is being able to make your own choices and not being told by anyone even a feminist blog that the choices they have made are wrong.

Whi are we, am I, to tell anyone that they are WRONG.

There are women out there who aren’t as confident as the next. Personally I would much rather take advise than pay some quack to chop up my body.

I would much rather a few frills and a kitten heal than a six inch scar across the tummy or a wonky boobs.

The model in question well…..why is she right. How do you know? Were you there? We will never, ever know.

If this programme has stopped even one young impressionable hating him/herself for being “fat” then surley it has been a success.

Be open minded.

Stop hating and start encouraging.

Holly Combe // Posted 16 July 2008 at 10:33 am

I don’t recall stating that anyone’s choice to go on Gok Wan’s show was “wrong.” You seem to have misread the post and missed my point. Also, if you look at the comments, you will see I criticised Paul English’s suggestion that the women who go on the show are hopelessly un-liberated so I don’t think the overall picture is quite the one you seem to want to portray.

I did not claim to know whether the story is accurate. Indeed, the title has a question mark at the end of it and I use tentative terms such as “may not be such a crusader for self esteem” and “allegedly” throughout the piece. You draw attention to the fact I don’t actually “know” what happened because I wasn’t there. Well, there are a lot of things that nobody really knows. Does that mean we should just close all debate on those issues?

You say women choose to go on the show and are grown ups who are advised about it and “know what to expect.” I don’t want to put words in your mouth but what exactly is your implication here? That Gok Wan can say whatever he likes because the women have chosen to go on the show and its out of their hands now? Then you go and say it’s inappropriate for women’s choices to be criticised. What exactly is your point?

You also seem to be under the impression that being open-minded is actually the same thing as being unquestioning. Your instruction to “Stop hating and start encouraging” is ridiculous because I never actually said I hated Gok Wan in the first place! I simply said I was ambivalent about him and reported on a story that suggests he was in the wrong on this occasion. Does making a show apparently designed to help women mean Gok is beyond criticism? Does it mean he becomes some untouchable guru we should be grateful to?

Personally, I am pretty weary of this current tendency for any kind of criticism to be labelled as “hating.” It’s as if society has now decided that we should all be floating about in an insipid haze of unwavering positivity and claiming everything is “amazing” in some desperate effort not to be seen as “haters.” Questioning things? Not cool!

Me // Posted 17 July 2008 at 1:18 am

Holly, my comments were based on this blog as a whole and not soley on what you have written. This is not a personal attack. Other opinions have been expressed.

I find that it always smarts a bit when I read ” He said, she said. This does not mean that as far as I am concerned the debate is closed, no. What it does mean is that I am aware words are worth a buck or two.

Again, I hope these grown up women would feel strong enough to speak out if they did not agree with anything in the show. No, nobody has a right to treat anyone with anything other than respect. I don’t see myself as having any implication here and I’m not sure I understand what you mean by this? My point is that these women are the only ones that can decided whether they are being made objects of or not. If they don’t feel that way after appearing on the show, they might well just after reading the comments made. I don’t think this is entirelly fair as it is then the blog that has made an object of them.

The Hater comment, I will give you. This is a broad term and perhaps not used in the best possible context but the sentiment was that rather than concentrating on the negatives which is very easy to do, we should be encouraging people to feel more positive about themselves. Move away from surgery and look to other methods. Whilst some people are not for make-up and glamour, others are. We are all different.

On reading through the blog again, I can see why people would not be some parts of the show. I do think that there are positive elements however.

I realise I have written nothing about the thopic of the blog, so far. Well, it seems that the positive role model in media is a myth. There will always be someone ready to dish the dirt.

On another point, I am slightly concerned that it seems acceptable to use derogatory comments about other bloggers. It’s seems a bit unfair to label someone as idiotic.

Just because one person is not as eloquent as the next and perhaps does not get their point across in the best way, it does not give other people the right to name call.

Holly Combe // Posted 17 July 2008 at 10:08 am

Thanks for your reply and for clarifying what you said about the participants knowing what to expect on the show. I thought there was an implication that the models who took part should have been able to take whatever was thrown at them (i.e any rudeness from Gok, as the presenter of the show) but can now see you were referring to the participants and the importance of respecting their choice to take part.

I agree that talking about other women’s experiences and choices can be problematic (the Paul English article perhaps being a case in point). However, I also think it would be wrong for us to hold back on criticising a TV show on the basis that it might be patronising or disrespectful to the participants in it. Obviously, the women taking part in How to Look Good Naked have all been very different so I wouldn’t attempt to make any generalisations about them personally.

You mention name calling and derogatory comments. I’ve had another read-through and, yes, Danielle does refer to Ohdearyme as “idiotic.” However, I would suggest the problem was not Ohdearyme’s lack of eloquence but the rudeness of her/his tone. I still reckon Ohdearyme was behaving like a troll (just check out the name) and framing the comment in a deliberately insulting manner. S/he didn’t seem to be making any effort to engage and, while I appreciate that words like “idiotic” are inflamatory [edit: and disablist], I still think the comment deserved scathing responses.

If the homophobic statement that Gok Wan is “not quite a man” because “hes a well known 100% homosexual” was meant to be ironic, it wasn’t very effective!

saza // Posted 17 July 2008 at 12:13 pm

yes i met him at bluewater and i asked politely for a photo and he said no and walked off!!

Jo // Posted 19 July 2008 at 2:42 am

I have read all the comments on this forum so far and all I can say is good on the women who go on the show. Not every woman thinks they look “BAD” naked and some really lucky women even have very high self esteem. However, some people need a confidence boost to get them out of a rut and through a bad patch so they can feel good about themselves and do something positive with their lives. If that requires they go on a show like that and get naked in a shopping mall to shock themselves out of a slump in their lives then good on them for knowing they need help and having the guts to get out of their comfort zones and do something a little more riskey. I read the comment made by Paul English and I quote: “These seem to include wandering through shopping centres in the buff – watched by her mortified children – and padding down high streets in her scants.”

If you actually watch very many episodes of the show you would see that none of the children were “mortified”. In fact the majority of them were quite proud that their mothers felt good enough about themselves and had the courage to do it at all.

In my opinion it would be nice to see the women from previous episodes to see if they are still carrying on with their new appearances or if they have slipped back into their old habits.

At least this show does not advocate that women chop themselves up with plastic surgery or go overboard with exercise and dieting and it tells women that no matter what their body shape they can look really stunning IF THEY WANT TO.

Larabelle12000 // Posted 22 July 2008 at 2:40 pm

I just wanted to say, that I watched HTLGN every week & I love it. In fact, if I could get Gok to come & make me over, all the more better.

Those who don’t like the programme (or the presenter himself), there’s really only 1 thing that you can do……..


Julia // Posted 27 July 2008 at 11:25 am

I have to say, I’ve never really classed myself as feminist or otherwise, and I really don’t mind makeover shows in theory. My problem with HTLGN is that Gok Wan is so bloody smug and patronising about what he does and the girls he does it to. It’s all “See, you’re not that ugly really, dear, now you’ll be able to go find yourself a lovely man to reassure yourself.” And any reminiscences he may have about his days at 21 stone are equally condescending; “You could one day be as hot as me (not).”

I’m sure this will be controversial, but I don’t mind Trinny & Susannah nearly as much. At least neither of them claims to be perfect, they just know how not to highlight the areas they feel insecure about. And yes, women shouldn’t feel the need to conform to some media ideal, we should be liberated enough to look the way we do and be proud of it. Honestly, though, I’ve always thought that liberation is more about the choice of standards we impose on ourselves. If the women on those shows have an ideal they want to aim for, they should be allowed to bring themselves closer to it; it’s far better than self hatred or starving themselves into it.

And frankly, anything is better than being shoved, butt naked, into a shop window and heckled by a crowd of letchy pervs, like a bloody Roman slave auction. Euw.

Liz // Posted 7 August 2008 at 10:37 pm

Personally, I love Gok. I can completely sympathise with the women on his show who don’t feel confident with their body image and he does a wonderful job of giving them confidence and self esteem. I have never heard a negative comment from him (unlike Trinny and Susannah). It proves that we don’t all have to be a size zero to look good. Wearing the right clothes can make woman feel happier and confident within themselves but some of us don’t know how to do it. Gok simply maximises the woman’s good qualities and gives them confidence which certainly can’t hurt. I could use a helping hand from Gok myself some days.

GirlCosmic // Posted 11 August 2008 at 9:02 pm


I love Mr Gok Wan as he makes me laugh for a hour and shows me how to wear clothes that I might not have thought of. You always see people who always look good whether they’re casual or dressed up and I personally do not know how to bring it all together and he shows us scaredy cats how to do it. It’s not good for the self esteem wearing a fashion disaster if you already hate the body you’re trying to cover up!! I’d love to go on the show to have some one dress me with ideas I’d never think of BUT there is not a chance in a million years I’d have the confidence to go on TV knowing that people I know would see the part of me I hated and they’d see it without the magic of how I hide it (probably just in my head it’s hidden!). I know they get a nice new wardrobe and I would love to have the confidence to stand in a window and say to the world “screw you I like me and my tummy” but I don’t have enough, so every time I go to fill the form, and then delete it, I ask myself – how much do these women actually hate their bodies knowing exactly what’s going to come?????

Lyn // Posted 14 August 2008 at 8:41 pm

Oh my! I really hadn’t considered these alternative interpretations of Mr. Wan’s antics on the screen. I have only witnessed the show’s use of professional photography to highlight the ‘before and after’ images of those who participate in the shows, and there I was, along with a lot of other less than critical viewers, taking it all at face value – as entertainment!

In the process of watching the programmes, I’ve been impressed by the way in which the participants seem to have been given the boost they have needed to move forward with the idea of self-acceptance. Rightly or wrongly, we do compare ourselves with idealised images – and not just in terms of our physical appearance. We measure ourselves against ideals of parenthood, professionalism and so on, usually in the process of striving to become the best that we can be in the areas of our lives which matter most to us.

Gok Wan’s methods, terminology and manner are not acceptable to everyone, but if he exceeds what is tolerable, then the answer is not to watch his programme.

Personally, I have found much of what I have seen rather funny – the man is a stylist, an entertainer and has the capacity to reach some women. I doubt that he’s doing much harm to anyone and if his tactics are beginning to verge on the distasteful (mannequins in shop windows?!), I suspect that this reflects certain trends and excesses within ‘popular’ television.

Those of us fortunate enough to find that we are at ease with who we are, (however we reach that point), will probably have encountered one or more individuals who have influenced us, perhaps by challenging our existing perceptions, or by simply being that which we wish to become – or avoid becoming. Gok Wan seems to be answering an apparent need in some women, and catalysing change in ways which they find non-threatening, but I’m no longer sure that broadcasting it into my living room is what I’d call entertainment – but then I don’t think that I’d want to watch somebody’s personal therapy sessions from the safety of my sofa, either.

And if he’s not always a nice person? Vulgar and crude? Less than perfect? Perfection exists as an ideal – and we know where obsession with ideals leads, don’t we?

Acacia Carmichael // Posted 21 August 2008 at 9:08 pm

I can’t be doing with this show.

I watched the first episode, and I can’t say I was particularly impressed then. But after watching a few more episodes of series one and two, I became even less impressed.

Something that really bugs me is the way GW refers to the ladies on his show as “my girls” and “girlfriend”.

I know he acts very camp and everything, but it feels like it’s very put on and overdone sometimes.

I believe that he *has* insulted Miss Idwal Jones. I think because he is so loved by the majority of women, the power he has with women has gone to his head. Maybe he thought because he’s so loved by them he could just insult a few and no one would really mind because he’s so “great” at improving their self esteem.

He does irritate me, and I don’t watch his show anymore. Partly because I don’t agree with a thing he says, and partly because he parades “his girls” naked, or near enough naked, in shop windows and other public places for all to see, including children, which frankly, is inapropriate don’t you think?

Juande // Posted 5 September 2008 at 10:35 am

I have met gok wan several times and have found him to be nothing but a funny, polite and genuine person. I love everything he does from his tv shows to his new simplyyours lingerie range.

grace // Posted 5 September 2008 at 2:25 pm

Firstly, if you dont like it, dont watch it. i dont find gok at all patronising, i find him inspiring, the majority of people who have low body confidence do so because of a throw away comment someone made years ago and it has stuck with them. gok looks at a womans good points and teaches how to excentuate these and hide the bits you dont like, basically he teaches women how to dress to their shape. What is wrong with him helping these women feel better about themselves?

if you dont like the show due to it not being a feministicly correct approach then im jelous of you for either a) having the perfect body that you fail to understand the pressure of todays idealisic society, or b) you think the world is perfect and other peopes opinions do not affect your self perception

Frank.ee // Posted 11 September 2008 at 5:17 pm

“…we should be encouraging people to feel more positive about themselves. Move away from surgery and look to other methods. Whilst some people are not for make-up and glamour, others are. We are all different.”.

From ‘me’.


“At least this show does not advocate that women chop themselves up with plastic surgery or go overboard with exercise and dieting and it tells women that no matter what their body shape they can look really stunning IF THEY WANT TO.”

From ‘Jo’

We should indeed be encouraging this but I think the point that our comments are making here is that perhaps even Gok’s methods are not suitable. In terms of self confidence, I disagree that a woman must conform in order to feel that she looks “good”. After all we are “all different” and so why should we need to ‘lengthen our legs’ in 6 inch heels to look pretty? Why are flat shoes so repugnant? Is this because the supposedly stubby look it gives to our pins is unflattering? The whole program still implies that there are certain body shapes and styles of dress that are ‘acceptable’ whereas others are not. How can this increase self esteem? Whilst I will concede that those women on the show definitely have increased confidence, what of those of us sat at home with trainers on our feet at the end our 27 inch legs? Gok’s obsession with waist cinching also serves to make me, a woman with a more athletic body shape, feel less womanly and less confident, despite the fact that I am, usually, very proud of the figure that I strive to maintain. It seems that it is not so much about accepting your own body shape but more about using quick fix underwear and other accessories to hide a woman’s real body shape and create the illusion of the acceptable one.

“Gok simply maximises the woman’s good qualities…”.

From ‘Liz’

Who decides what a women’s ‘good’ qualities are? Again, as I said above, this is being decided by other people and changes with every fashion season. Currently the ‘in’ thing is size zero, emaciated chic, but it wasn’t so long ago that Eva Herzigova set the bar with her curves.

There is also the issue of the point of all this transformation. ‘Julia’ sarcastically wrote ““…now you’ll be able to go find yourself a lovely man to reassure yourself.”.” but she is not far off the mark. Sometimes it does appear that Gok’s intention is not to empower women with confidence to be their own person for that to be the actual goal; it is merely a means to an end. That end being the elusive husband and 2.4 children that we are all meant to have.

Granted, the man “…the man is a stylist…”. (From ‘Lyn’) and NOT a counsellor with an armament of cognitive therapies at his disposal, his weapon of choice being Jimmy Choos, maybe what every girl REALLY needs is NOT the latest Fendi, but a good psychiatrist.

Of course, we are all human, and, despite evolution, subject to our primal instincts, including the need to compare ourselves to each other. As ‘Lyn’ so rightly put, “Rightly or wrongly, we do compare ourselves with idealised images – and not just in terms of our physical appearance. We measure ourselves against ideals of parenthood, professionalism and so on, usually in the process of striving to become the best that we can be in the areas of our lives which matter most to us.” The comparisons we make are done so that we can better equip ourselves to fend off competition for a mate. You may argue that we, as a civilized society, are no longer subject to such basic impulses but I genuinely think that ‘survival of the fittest’ still exists, just in a more developed form that has been moulded by our capitalist society.

However, this show IS purely for entertainment. It was never intended to be a radical overhaul of our self belief but is instead just another way for us to have a nosey inside someone else’s life.

“Those of us fortunate enough to find that we are at ease with who we are, (however we reach that point), will probably have encountered one or more individuals who have influenced us, perhaps by challenging our existing perceptions, or by simply being that which we wish to become – or avoid becoming. Gok Wan seems to be answering an apparent need in some women, and catalysing change in ways which they find non-threatening.”. (From ‘Lyn’).




Bee // Posted 15 October 2008 at 11:19 am

I just wish he’d stop talking about “bangers” and “breasticles”… yuk.

Cricket9 // Posted 15 October 2008 at 6:48 pm

Interesting comments! I watch Gok’s show in Canada, and despite his shortcomings (I’m sure he has some) the show is a breath of fresh air comparing to similar North-American shows. In “Style by Jury” the participant has to listen to not-so-nice comments by the “jury”; the approach is always the same – dental veneers, laser eye surgery if they wear glasses, in many cases plastic surgery, botox, fillers etc. It’s style by numbers, if you ask me; comparing to that, Gok is positively friendly and supportive.

Karni evil // Posted 20 October 2008 at 4:02 pm

I really don’t Care what you narrow minded people have to say about gok as I watch his Show’s & I met him when he was in Australia and I think He is Totally Awesome and AMAZING.

and he could be my FAIRYGOK MOTHER any day.

Tambu // Posted 28 October 2008 at 6:20 am

I’m Canadian too, and H2LGN is one of my fave shows (currently watching Season 3). Compared to N.American “makeover shows” where the solution is either surgery, or a super-expensive couture wardrobe (or both), Gok’s approach is a refreshing change. The style tips are practical – better underwear does make a difference to how you look when clothed, and when I think I look better, I feel more confident about myself. Maybe women in the UK (or at least on this blog) have a stronger self-image than your average N.American, but as a US size 14-16 (that’s about an 18 to you), I find it refreshing to see women like myself (not young, not “perfect”, just normal) learning to accept the skin they’re in and all that comes with it. So the methods are a bit extreme (super-sized billboards & naked Gokkettes doing product testing) – that’s television today. Sure there are viewers who must watch for purient thrill-seeking, but there are many more who value the positive message underlying each episode – every woman is special & beautiful in her own right, regardless of how far her body type strays from the “standards of beauty” that we are inundated with via the media. It’s just unfortunate that western society has to be taught to “see the facts” (I grew up in southern Africa, where being rail-thin was literally a crying shame, & standards of beauty were substantially different…at least until we all got satellite TV). ;-)

To speak to another point, being feminine is not the antithesis of being a feminist – there are bigger battles to be fought on the gender-equity front than being called “girl/girlfriend” by a very camp stylist.

Yeah, I’ve noticed that Gok does seem to have a bit of a potty-mouth, and a “handsy” approach to…everyone. Probably is a bugger to work for too (no pun intended), but I think the good intentions of the show (& its presenter) are genuine.

I could go on, but it’s wee hours of the morning over here, and I have work to do come sunrise…

poppy // Posted 1 November 2008 at 5:23 pm

Here we have British broadcasting doing what it does best, demeaning and exploiting the public. If these women on this programme had a shred of common sense they would never have allowed themselves to be treated like this, by the thoroughly, slimey, unlikable Gok. The suffragettes would do somersaults in their graves if they could see the antics of these women. I do not profess to be a feminist or any other “ist”, just a femail who knows stupidity when she sees it. But what comes over even more sick in all these programmes are the women of Channel 4 who produce and promote themselves in the making of these totally useless exploitative and debasing issues. Gok should be put in a straight jacket & never allowed out of it!

Katie // Posted 3 January 2009 at 6:26 pm

I love Gok Wan! I think he is nice to women and makes them feel better about themselves.

Shelley // Posted 28 January 2009 at 10:34 pm

I cannot believe that anyone can take offense at Gok Wan’s how to look good naked program.

From the point of view of a considerably overweight woman I would be proud to be called one of Gok’s ‘girls’ and to feel sexy again is a dream of mine. Why aren’t you pulling to bits the society that makes us feel bad about ourselves and recognising that here is someone that wants us to embrace ourselves just the way we are….rolls and all… I wish I could bottle the man. He’s wonderful.

Nathan // Posted 5 June 2009 at 11:25 am

Hey there. I just noticed this website after doing a google search on Mr Wan and I’ve got to say i find it very interesting at how many people are completely anti HTLGN. The first thing ive got to say is i personally enjoy the show. I see the logic behind statements that it is a show that promotes conformatism and self esteem through conformatism. I’d also like to put across the idea that the women who do join the show do ask to be on it, they aren’t dragged in front of a camera and forced to take part. I also feel that the idea of the show is to give such women a base confidence and understanding of what clothes flatters their own body type so that they may develop their own style (without having to dress completely in black). If this is something that makes a particular woman feel attractive then I have no problem with it. The simple fact is that not everyone (man or woman) has the confidence to wear what they want to or get up in front of a crowd, naked or not, and that’s something that can only be gained by doing something like what happens on the show (despite how drastic it sometimes is).

As for the way that Gok presumably treated the models, im not going to say anything as to the truth of it because I couldnt possibly know. Assuming that it is true then this could be an isolated event. i’m sure all of us have had one of those long stressful weeks which have lead to us snapping or saying things that were offensive to get things done. Surely if he did it all the time then the allegations would be much more widespread. Anyway I probably dont have too much of a right to be writing such a long comment on this blog but i did find the opinions on this very interesting. Bye now

Aimee // Posted 5 June 2009 at 4:43 pm

He doesn’t encourage women to love themselves. He encourages women to make themselves into something they’re not in order to love ourselves. He tells us that just ‘cos we’re fat and ugly, we can still be sexual objects for men, and we can still be exploited and demeaned. Yay. :s

Saranga // Posted 6 June 2009 at 12:10 pm

I agree with Aimee.

Mephit // Posted 6 June 2009 at 12:44 pm

I think it’s quite an insidious message we get from these types of show: “feeling good about yourself” translates directly into “looking sexy”. The two are not interchangeable.

The other day I caught a bit of a show called ‘Britain’s Worst Wife’ (at least you knew what to expect from the title :(). Ghastly. The women were set a task to buy something to “improve themselves” for their husbands, and the only one’s whose purchase was approved of by the so-called experts was the one who bought “sexy” high-heeled shoes that she normally wouldn’t wear. #Head-desk#

Aimee // Posted 6 June 2009 at 5:01 pm

… I saw Britain’s Worst Wife. It made me feel physically ill. The part where they had to make a serve their ‘man’ a meal was possibly the low point of a particularly low programme.

PSC // Posted 8 June 2009 at 9:49 pm

First, I’m not English speaking so I have to say sorry for my misspelling and grammar.

I like the show. I watched the show briefly the first time whilst I was in England last year and watched some more on youtube and I like G W in the show too.

But, just something about him that I’m not so sure. In his interview, he said he used to be very fat and how much he hated it and that he tried to forget about it and leave it behind. Now he’s doing a show about helping some women who have quite big size bodies to be happy with themselves and to love themselves. It’s just when he explained about how much he hated being fat and had enough and didn’t want to be fat anymore and started to lose some weight. I think he said when he decided to do that was when he started to love himself more and that he said he’s feeling happier to be the size he is now. I just think that he hasn’t shared that to the women who he’s helping, yet. It might not work for the show coz it might not be successful but I think he could do it as a friend who cares about them and to share that he’s been there and had similar feelings on his part. It might be the better way to encourage them, the right way to encourage them to love themselves and feel more confident. Then they’ll get healthier and could be happier.

Well, that’s it about my thinking. I’m still going to watch the show and read his book. So, for all who are his fan or not his fan, I am happy stay in the middle way.


Mary Howarth // Posted 12 June 2009 at 4:23 am

I am from the UK but i live in the USA, By chance I found Do You Look Good Naked on TV. It is much better than the American version. I think Gok does a great job and I cant wait to watch the show when it is on. I am sure we are seeing out dated shows over here. Can anyone tell me if it is still being shown over there?

lara // Posted 11 August 2009 at 6:36 pm

personally, i reckon this could be a rumour. i met gok wan twice and he was the most lovely man! everybody has their angry moments, and obviously their job [tv] comes first before pleasing people.

VB // Posted 2 January 2010 at 11:50 am

Happy New Year All!!

I was just on the Simplybe website and noticed Goks Sassy Slip and thought I would treat myself. I get to the colour selection and see that it is only available in “natural” or “naked”. So I am now annoyed about the colour choices available. I am a brown skinned woman and when I get naked, I am brown all over. Black people in various shades have been in this country for over a century now, so why aren’t we catered for? Even America, which is known for its racists, caters for their black population.

gadgetgal // Posted 2 January 2010 at 10:04 pm

@VB – wow, I’m really glad you pointed out the lack of catering for various skin colours in fashion – I must admit in my own white privilege it never even occurred to me (and I used to live in the States, where they cater for most people, so it should have)! It doesn’t make any sense to discount so many people from fashion, even if you’re looking at it from a purely capitalist point of view rather than just the unfairness of it – he’s now lost your business, so he’s stupidly out of money there! And mine too now, I’m afraid, and I’ll be sure to be careful who I buy from in future! Great comment and happy new year :)

Elmo // Posted 3 January 2010 at 10:23 am

VB- I know what you mean! I always have trouble finding make up pale enough for me, as most of it makes me look orange. And then, it occured to me that apart from hardly any good pale makeup, there is almost no makeup at all for darker skins-they just provide darker shades of orange. If you read magazines (which i try not to) you also notice there are hardly any black models at all on the advert pages.

Gok Wan…..hmmmm, well, I think he’s a bit patronizing, not to mention his beauty queen show was appalling (Charlie Brooker does a really good break down you can find on youtube). I think it would be great if women could feel good about themselves without a makeover, but I suppose thats unlikely in our society.

vee // Posted 28 January 2010 at 11:19 am

I have to say that Gok Wan is great.. I watched HTLGN everyday and I loved it..He makes you feel good even by watching it on TV..All the best GOK WAN and Please continue to make women feel good about their body..

EveryWomanHasAName // Posted 17 February 2010 at 2:22 am

As is obvious, I chose not to use my real name, So I used the name of a song by my fav singer. (And I’d like to say, I am aware I am a bad speller)

Anyway… to the topic at hand, I found this all by mistake, but got into reading it anyway, as Gok Wan is often on in my household due to my sisters great adoration for him.

I myself dislike the show, but that is largely because, it is a make over show, and I have a great dislike for things with make-up as the solution. (I don’t like make-up… and I have no need to, besides, it’s counter productive, because it damages your skin, which means you will “need” to use more to look “good” which will do more damage, so you use more, and the cycle continues…). Granted it does not promote the use of surgery, but it does promote hiding away you “problems” with the use of specially designed clothes…

The title also makes the show a bit… unwelcome for me, I me, the word “HOW” in HTLGN is a very frustrating part of it, as what it says to me is “This is the way, and the ONLY way to look “good” naked”…

I fail to see the need to be naked in public (and how it gives confidence, I mean, for me, being naked in public would be a nightmare, I like myself to be kept to myself) and wonder why he tries to get the women on the show to be naked in public (And feel sorry for any minors in the area at the time, even though they probably see nothing of an intimate area,it’s still pretty obvious about whats going on …)

If you ask me, being naked in public does not mean you look good naked, it just means your guity of “indecent exposure”. I also believe make-up doesn’t mean you look good naked, if your “wearing” make-up, your not naked…

I have to say, my fav show that has anything to do with styling is “snog, marry, avoid” as it promotes natural beauty,s though I do dislike this programme as it makes it appear the goal is to look good to get some-one to marry or snog you, and not just for the fun and enjoyment of it. It also tells individuals their idea of a good style is wrong, which, although many are whacky, they are not wrong, and are great because they feel able to express who they feel they are.

I think, the best way to give others confidence about their apearence is not to cover them in make up and hide away bad bits (which, if some-one told me to wear make-up, or wear slimming pants or something, I would feel worse about myself, because that is just saying “look, your ugly”), but is to find out what they feel uncomfortable about, then find others who have a very similar build up of that area and let them all talk about how they feel about it, and realise they aren’t bad, but are infact sharing a great deal in common with others who feel happy the way they are.

As a side note, on an episode I happened to see a few days ago, he made a women rub her head between another womens boobs… I have no idea how that was meant to be theraputic…

DarrBee // Posted 7 March 2010 at 1:14 pm

Hey there, found this blog when i was searching for Gok on google, I for one enjoy the program and can see the points of view both for and against. I have a question though. Why is it they dont do a couple of shows for guys (Trinny and Susanne had a bit of a go at it)? I would love to be made over. It isnt only women who are under preasure to look good contary to what people may think, you try buying nice clothes and looking good when you are 5ft 8in tall, 50inch chest and a 40 inch waist. It’s virtually imposible. Most clothes companies discriminate against larger guys. I would love to live in a world where we are all judged for what we are, not what we look like but that isnt going to happen is it. Until it does then programs like HTLGN will continue to be made.

Holly Combe // Posted 7 March 2010 at 5:53 pm

I haven’t watched all of Gok’s shows so I can’t say with certainty that there hasn’t been one with a guy being helped by Gok but, like you, I’ve never seen it if there has. If this is the case, I’d suggest it’s because the show is heavily invested in the traditional idea that a woman’s sense of worth comes from feeling “fabulous” and attractive, while blokes apparently wouldn’t need or want Gok’s positive affirmations and assistance. Of course, it’s true that women do suffer the ill effects of being more objectified and readily cast in the role of eye candy than men have been historically but, as you say, that doesn’t mean men aren’t under pressure to look good. Body fascism effects many people, regardless of gender.

I’d suggest you get in touch with the show (the e-mail address is just before the comments on that page) to find out exactly why they don’t have guys on. I’d be interested to know the answer!

And, while we’re at it, I have to say it does rather puzzle me that Gok doesn’t set an example and get naked on the show himself if looking and feeling good in the buff is so important. A crucial consideration when assessing the show, I’d say.

Elmo // Posted 7 March 2010 at 6:15 pm

“Snog Marry avoid” is an evil, evil show

Mobot // Posted 8 March 2010 at 10:47 am

I feel a bit sad that the HTLGN lovers on this thread seem to be basically saying that we should all stop with our sour grapes because this show is the best of a bad bunch… and also that ‘if you don’t like it, don’t watch it’. Errrr, feminist critique such as the f word blog is supposed to deconstruct things in popular culture that are taken for granted, such as the concept of ‘looking good’. This post is not some sort of moral panic, or a demand for the show to be cancelled, it’s a consideration of how the encouraging comments Gok Wan makes to women on tv are all based around a narrow idea of what ‘good’ looks like and what should make a woman feel good about herself. YES, there is some progress in celebrating the different shapes women’s bodies come in. But, as folks have already said, why the *controlling* undies? I’d rather learn to love my so called ‘imperfections’ exactly as they are than learn to cover them up or modify them. Nobody is saying there’s anything ‘wrong’ with ‘feminine’ ways of presenting yourself – feminists should not and usually do not tell other women what to do/wear/think. But that doesn’t mean we can’t look critically at the *reasons* why certain looks and styles are given more cultural currency than others. It’s not about criticising women for their choices but about looking more deeply into the range of choices available to women and how some options are more influential than others. Without wishing to derail, a good example is body hair… we all have the choice to either remove it or leave it alone. What you do with yours is your business and yours alone. But it takes a lot of guts to choose to not remove it as a woman, since everyone seems to want to make it *their* business when they see a hairy woman by shouting abusive comments in the street etc. It’s also (socially) easier to wear control pants than to proudly display your natural curves. Some choices, particularly around women’s appearances, are easier to make than others.

aimee // Posted 8 March 2010 at 11:22 am

Mobot, I totally agree! I HATE it when people say things like “well, if you don’t like it, don’t watch it.”…. Oh okay then. I’ll just ignore everything that I think is detrimental, or that annoys me, and then nothing will ever change. I know it’s reductionist, but can you imagine all the awful things we’d still have if everyone just turned a blind eye to things they didn’t like? We’d probably still not be able to vote.

Lindsey // Posted 8 March 2010 at 3:03 pm

I do wonder if Gok Wan’s shows have improved over time, now that they are established there may be a little more freedom. I say because the last few episodes I saw of his “Fashion Fix” have featured a test panel of plus size women – it’s not exactly revolutionary (or it shouldn’t be) but showing fat women wanting to not dress like they’re ashamed of their bodies, and having fun trying out skirts or whatever, is not something you see on TV that often. I’d also be interested to know what people thought of the special episodes of HTLGN featuring women with disabilities.

Elmo // Posted 8 March 2010 at 3:54 pm

I think the most interesting thing that no one has disccussed here yet (I dont think) was that Gok Wan himself used to be very overweight. He slimmed down because he felt unattractive.

Now, he can do what he likes with his own body, but hypocrite much? He’s telling these women to embrace their curves, etc, etc, even though he thought he was “gross” when he was fat.

This is why I think he’s so patronising.

DarrBee // Posted 8 March 2010 at 4:30 pm

Holly Combe I have contacted the show and am waiting a reply with baited breath. I will post any reply sent, just have to wait and see.

Sarah // Posted 14 March 2010 at 12:20 am

It’s not “How to Look Good Naked”… it’s “How to look good in underwear and clothes chosen specifically by a fashion guru, makeup put on by a make-up artist, and hair done by a stylist”. I’m pretty sure if I had all that done I’d be happy with my look in the short term, but in the long term I still look EXACTLY the same naked. Also, the people in the street who give the compliments… like anyone would say anything negative to their faces on national television! I admit I do watch the show if it is on and quite like the fashion advice that is offered, but I don’t think that it truely offers long term happiness with your body!

Dory // Posted 12 July 2010 at 4:05 pm

I was involved in some of the filming for the new series of How To Look Good Naked. As well as ladies there’s a man who is due to appear this time. Gok didn’t like him at all because he wouldnt always take his advice and was often argumentative, whilst he much prefers women who are compliant and will sit back and do what he says…..it didn’t feel very empowering for the women really, because even though he’s so camp he’s still a man telling women what to do. To be fair that particular man was really hard to work with a lot of the time though, and Gok is a talented stylist so the people who go on the show should be prepared to let him use his expertise.

IAMME // Posted 1 August 2010 at 10:37 am

My observations are:

1. Yes the women have chosen to be on the show

2. It is entertainment

3. Gok Wan clearly suffered a troubled past and is redeeming himself for that past by trying to give others what he wished he had

4. He may well dismiss the “other models” – either rudely or sensitively – we can only go by the comments from Daisy as to how she felt. And if that is how she felt, she is entitled to it.

5. Yes, he is projecting his image of “how” we should look according to the society within which he lives. Whether that is right or wrong, we still have FREE WILL.

6. If it makes the women who attend on the show feel better about themselves for a while, or for longer, who are we to judge? The positive side is that it takes the woman as she is, the negative side is that he makes her confirm to society’s image of “sexy, beautiful etc”.

7. I agree he is patronising, with his use of “my girl”, however when someone is looking to someone for “advice”, we need to feel secure and it some respects he DOES provide that security. Rightly or wrongly.

7. The show is entertainment. Take it as it is, do what you want with it, ignore it, hate it, love it. What goes on behind the scenes may well NOT be ethical, considerate or non-judgemental. That has to be considered I think…

Katie // Posted 2 January 2011 at 6:54 am

I love Gok!

I have had a Trinny and Susanna experience at a shopping centre here in Perth Western Australia and walked away feeling really shit about myself.

If Gok helps women surely that can only be a good thing.

Also, Gok did a show with Alan Carr as the feature guest and it was great.

Jazz // Posted 6 January 2011 at 12:27 pm

I’m a big fan of HTLGN. I am a 21 year old woman and when I first started watching the show I was not at all confident about my body after years of bullying about my weight.

Watching the women that go on HTLGN is an inspiration, they are able to toss there insecurities out of the window and actually have the guts to show a normal woman’s body on T.V is amazing.

I must admit it is a T.V show that steered my young and fragile mind AWAY from plastic surgery.

As for the women on the show. Many of them had times in their lives when they were confident about themselves, but life changing circumstances have stripped them of believing they are attractive. They may have achieved a brilliant career, had the family they always wanted and have a great relationship with their husbands but there is always a reason for their insecurities. Such as divorce, cancer, a childhood of bullying or post natal depression.

Not only this, Gok also encourages the women to take up a sport to increase their confidence about themselves in a healthy way. (Although the pole dancing one was a bit of a miss.)

As for the way that Gok refers to women as ‘his girls’ is not something that I find offensive at all. To me, it is the way that some people speak. Some people in my social circle use that phrase when talking about friends and they have never watched the show. For example, saying ‘this is my girl (enter name).’

Gok Wan did used to be overweight himself and actually stated that he felt more comfortable being bigger than he did when he is slim, and it actually took him a long time to get to grips with his new size, even though the was more socially accepted.

I think the show is imperfect, and I am not able to comment on the way Gok treated that one model because I was not there. Although it sounds completely unacceptable.

Kirsty // Posted 8 April 2011 at 3:01 am

Saw Gok last night live in Australia. I took my daughters (15 and 12) who are both fans of his TV shows. While he was a bit crude, I didn’t have a big problem with this, most of it was tongue in cheek. When it comes to HTLGN which most here have issues with we need to address an important fact. Women in our society are judged on their appearance by other women. To suggest that the show is sexist and anti-feminist without taking this fact into consideration is plain stupid. This action of looking at another and making a judgment (however right or wrong) is a very basic almost animal response as we are looking at either a prospective mate or rival. Gok said last night that it’s not about the clothes or the body really. Once you start to address the outward issue it begins to work on an inward one. Many women dress according to how they percieve themselves. They hide their bodies form their spouses (which is not good) and they become a shadow. HTLGN begins to strip away the safe cocoon that these women live in and shows them that they are much more than what they thought they were. It gives them a different view. We tell our kids to be the best they can be so why can’t you look like the best you? Why is our wedding day so important and we spend so much time to look our best to then spend the rest of our lives looking second rate?

Holly Combe // Posted 8 April 2011 at 2:23 pm

Well, firstly, not everyone sees a wedding day as important (or even has one) and, secondly, I’d suggest we’d be in real trouble if we were all expected to be wedding-day-fabulous for the rest of our lives so as not to look “second rate”. There aren’t enough hours in the day!

I don’t think the fact women in our society are often judged on appearance by other women somehow lets the premise behind HTLGN off the hook. The revelation that women can behave badly (and it really isn’t a revelation unless one subscribes to some women-as-angels philosophy) hardly serves as an excuse for shows like HTLGN to carry on patronising us. We already know women tend to be disproportionately judged on appearance (which *is* sexist regardless of who’s doing it) and saying so on a feminist site does not somehow mean this is being flagged up as something only men do.

How people perceive themselves strikes me as an inward issue. It seems to me that there is nothing wrong with carrying on with having a “safe cocoon” if that’s what works for the individual. I don’t see why women should be disproportionately obliged to address the “outward” issue of looks. Sure, that can play a part in enhancing self-esteem but seeing a male presenter nurturing an already socially encouraged emotional attachment to this factor in self-improvement for women strikes me as creepy. There’s more to “being the best you can be” than *looking* one’s best and I’d suggest spending a lot of time on the latter can often leave too little time for more inner human improvement.

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