I don’t watch a lot of shows on television, preferring independent films and Netflix binges to cable. However, the reality show Dating Naked, caught my attention. Not just because it is yet another show featuring naked people, but because the concept of a potential couple meeting for the first time without clothing is intriguing to me as a matchmaker.
Nudity renders most people vulnerable , literally and figuratively open and stripped of masks and illusions. In theory, it could be the most authentic search for true love, free and fun times. No pretenses, no hiding, no clothes. This is where the show has the potential to shine.
In this “radical dating experiment,” it looks like there is some real matchmaking here. At least one of dates appear to be a real potential match that is consistent with what the other is looking for. This rarely happens coincidentally, but is the result of care, research, and good planning. Interestingly, a nude wedding is scheduled to air this month featuring a couple that first met on the show.
Nudity is raw and for some, emotionally powerful. One of the women on the show had such a hard time being naked that she eventually left the exotic island where the show is filmed. Nudity and fear, it seems, go hand in hand. Others can’t seem to move past their lust by associating nudity with sexual availability. These daters tend to be promiscuous!
The titillating nature of nudity is not lost on me. As a dating show, I look for the show’s relevance for Black love. For African Americans, the show may as well be called Dating Naked, Black & Afraid because most people are generally uncomfortable being nude and even more uncomfortable being nude and matched with Black people for a date. Understandably, they feel more at ease around each other. African Americans often feel the same way.
Defying United States demographics and reality, the lack of diversity in both ethnicity and body type, is obvious. Importantly, the inhabitants of this remote island are rendered even more invisible than Black people–I only saw two brothers and one sister featured on the show and we never see a local resident of the island on camera.
Like most dating and matchmaking shows, this one is clearly not created for the benefit of African Americans. Black people are rarely featured and when they are, they are treated like novelty items, “the first Black girl” and “first Black guy I’ve ever dated.” White daters fail to “connect” with them, most likely because they are completely incompatible in other ways besides race.
Black daters are stereotyped: a young Black man is described as “well-hung” and there were a variety of camera angles fixated on the behind of the only young Black woman dater I saw on the show. None of African American daters were picked to develop relationships at the end of the show, likely resulting in feelings of rejection and/or public humiliation for them.
Perhaps most importantly, unlike their White peers, Black people on Dating Naked are not coupled with each other! To my knowledge, no Black man and woman have been in the same show so that they can date. This would easily resolve the show’s race problem and make it more interesting.
In conclusion, Dating Naked is entertaining, but at best, woefully ignorant of the vast majority of people’s dating preferences to date within their own ethnic group; they give this option to White daters, but not to Black daters. At worst, it is purposeful and deliberate sabotage of Black love in favor of another agenda.