Shame and pride in How to Look Good Naked: the affective dynamics of (mis)recognition

Hannah Frith, Jayne Raisborough, Orly Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Most academic work exploring the makeover genre has argued that TV “experts” draw on a narrative of humiliation to push the participant to adopt more appropriate forms of feminine appearance. However, shows like of the makeover, are qualitatively different in tone and style from more aggressive shows. We extend emerging analyses which argue that makeover shows can be read as reflecting struggles for recognition by demonstrating that TV “experts” can also interrupt processes of mis-recognition by offering alternative symbolic systems of interpretation of the body by which the body can be recognised, visible and valued. We argue that humiliation is not the only point of affective engagement for audiences of these shows, while wanting to avoid the seductive illusion that this makes the shows more empowering or less malevolent. We conclude that in failing to embrace the wide variety of affective mechanisms by which we might be able to appreciate the popular appeal of reality TV, we do a disservice to female audiences and women participants, as well as limiting our own theoretical insights.How to Look Good Naked, while sharing the problematic logics
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-177
Number of pages13
JournalFeminist Media Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2014


  • bodies
  • humiliation
  • makeover
  • recognition
  • scopic economy


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