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I am standing naked in front of the mirror, taking notes. From top to bottom, this is what I see:

  1. Outgrown highlights, split ends, crowning a great downward spread of translucently goose pimpled epidermis.
  2. Eyes puffy from restless midwinter sleep. Signs of rosacea across the cheeks (hereditary), traces of sun damage (summer camp canoe trips). Chapped lips (seasonal). Slight heaviness in the jaw line indicating early-onset jowls (possibly imagined).
  3. Neck unfortunately short. Shoulders narrow and uneven (scapula tension). Flabby upper arms. Boobs not perky, plus too big for frame. Left noticeably bigger than right (resulting in high-school nickname "Biggy Small"). Stretch marks.
  4. Stomach bloated (day 24 in cycle), hips pronounced. Waist still evident (hallelujah!). Thighs ample (spin class). Skinny calves descending into cracked heels (seasonal). Knees: smoking hot.

Why do I hate my body so much? The answer is: I don't. Quite the contrary. I'm relatively content with my form despite its imperfect appearance.

My body is like a reliable mid-size sedan: Practical, comfy, good on gas and easy to park. I don't kid myself that it's gorgeous or expensive or stylish (if I had Jessica Biel's ass, I'd be the one making $3-million a picture). In short, the thing I like most about my body is the thing I like most about my car: It works when I need it to.

This kind of blasé body talk would not fly on How To Look Good Naked, the new W Network reality show hosted by Carson Kressley (formerly of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy) in which women are either sad-sack fatties or delusional narcissists. This U.S. remake of a hit British show bills itself as a "perception revolution" that encourages women to unite and "turn body loathing into body loving." In it, average-looking overweight women go from sobbing at the sight of themselves to declaring, "I am a goddess" in three days or less.

The intro features Carson striding down a suburban street as dozens of women pour out of the houses and follow him while stripping down to their bras and panties, like a league of Stepford Wives gone wild. As the ladies proudly reveal their wobbly bits, the fully clothed Kressley delivers his monologue of empowerment: "I don't just want you to just accept what you see in the mirror and I don't just want you to love what you see in the mirror, I want you to flaunt it - NAKED!"

Like buck? Seriously? Well, sort of.

Despite the mandate, the show's format is as tight as Jennifer Aniston's abs. Each episode begins with a regular chubby gal, clad only in underwear, crying in front of a three-way full-length mirror as Kressley stands behind her, pointing out the positives. "Look at this gorgeous décolleté," he'll say. "And those shapely calves. And your feet - they're perfect!" It's a strangely cringe-worthy display reminiscent of the backhanded chubby-girl compliment, "Such a pretty face." I don't know about you, but if someone looked at me naked and remarked on my "delicate wrists," I'd slap him.

The show then moves onto a series of exercises meant to point out a woman's bad body image and change her self-perception. First, she is asked to place herself in a lineup of women according to hip or belly size. Invariably she will judge herself to be bigger than she actually is. Then, her underwear-clad figure is projected onto a Santa Monica billboard and Carson shows her a series of street interviews in which passersby express positive opinions on her form along the lines of, "Great rack," and "That's what a real woman looks like." The woman is taken lingerie shopping and to the spa and finally, after a long hair and makeup session, Kressley (who has bonded with the subject by asking her, "How bout some huggage?" and lifting her up at least once) drops the bomb: Will she or won't she do the photo session … NAKED.

The woman's face drops and it's a cliffhanger, complete with screeched-record sound effect. But rest assured, on returning from commercial break you will get to see a pleasantly plump gal with great makeup roll around in a studio while covered by a sheet (apparently in today's America, "naked" means "strategically covered in 20 yards of silver satin.")

Here is the problem: I don't believe for a single second an overweight woman with low self-esteem can be made to love her body simply by changing her bra and her hairstyle. I think the issue of body image is emotionally complicated and that most overweight people would be much happier with themselves and their bodies were they not heavy.

The fact that overweight is now "what a real woman looks like" in North America is disturbing, and says at least as much about our unhealthy consumer behaviour as it does about our ability to love ourselves. I'm all for going to the spa and hugging it out with my gay friends, but perhaps the solution for these women is something more radical - say, a gym membership or eating less?

But the most ludicrous part is that when the women do take it off for the photographer, all evidence of nudity (bum cracks, nipples, pubic hair) is obscured for the camera. This sort of prudery seems hysterical on prime-time TV, when you can flip the channel to watch David Caruso picking over the dismembered corpse of a 15-year-old rape victim any night of the week.

Worse yet, the resulting nude portrait (also projected onto a billboard) has been obviously touched up, sending the mixed message that while women should learn to love themselves just the way they are, the way they are is not quite good enough.

I guess Kressley's right in a way. Perception is everything. Having said that, I think it's time I put my clothes back on. It's winter, I look bad naked and you know what? I'm fine with that.

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