How Naked Attraction Helped One Contestant Overcome Her Decade-Long Battle With Her Body Image

You've asked it a million times... now here's the answer... 'Why I Chose To Get Naked In Front Of 8 Million TV Viewers.'

Naked Attraction

by Anna Silverman |

As the latest series of Naked Attraction comes to an end – and a spin-off show starts – Millie Norris, 27, reveals how it helped her overcome a decade-long battle with her body image

‘Walk! Go on Millie. One foot in front of the other. You do it every day,’ I told myself as I took my first step, naked, out into the darkly lit Channel 4 TV studio in Manchester. My hands were clammy and I felt dizzy with an overwhelming sense that I’d forgotten how to stand.

I could feel the glare of several cameras focusing on me. They would beam my bare body into the living rooms of eight million people: my family, friends, ex-boyfriends, former teachers; everyone I’ve ever known could watch. It was like I was living out that nightmare where you’re standing naked in public before you wake and realise it’s an anxiety dream. Only, I chose to do this.

How did I end up there, on a dating show where contestants get nude? You might assume anyone who volunteers to strip on national TV mustn’t know what it’s like to torture themselves with self-hatred, body hang-ups and insecurities. For me, the opposite was true. I needed to prove to myself I’d overcome years of hating my body and taken control of who I was.

At 13, I had been in the throes of an eating disorder. I couldn’t bear the thought of people watching me eat at school, so I didn’t. At home I’d sit in front of the mirror, crying and prodding whatever tiny rolls of tummy I could pinch. I was called ‘lollipop’ because I became so thin. Obsessing over my size consumed me.

Whether my insecurities were the catalyst for the string of controlling boyfriends that followed, I don’t know. For the rest of my teenage years, controlling partners made me feel worthless – shorts were forbidden by one; another criticised me if I ate certain foods. In turn, each relationship would breed more insecurity and I’d feel I didn’t deserve better. At 15, I was sexually assaulted, culminating in me despising my body even more. Counselling eventually helped me deal with the assault and decide I wasn’t going to let others dictate to me any more. Meanwhile, a loving boyfriend helped me start to feel proud of myself.

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Then, in 2018 when I was 25 (and after we’d broken up), I saw an advert for Naked Attraction on Facebook. I thought: this would be the ultimate empowering way to take back control of my body. By this point, I was eating what I wanted and had a healthier relationship with my body. I wanted to test myself, to see if I really was happy and proud of who I am. I applied thinking nothing would happen, but was soon called by the show’s producers and invited to audition in Manchester. There, I had to strip in front of a woman and a cameraman. I was nervous, but the whole process ended up feeling liberating. Then it was on to the show. Host Anna Richardson was like a reassuring friend. I was the ‘picker’ on my episode and ended up with a date. We got on well but both felt we were just mates, so didn’t see each other again.

Facing family and friends after the show aired was awkward, but I took it in my stride. I’ve been recognised by strangers a few times since and men often add me on social media, asking if I’m the one who got naked. I don’t accept their requests, but it doesn’t bother me. The producers prepare you for a lot of trolling after appearing, but I had so many women reach out to me to say positive things. Still, I didn’t go on Naked Attraction for external validation, I did it for me. It seems others are realising how liberating it can be to get naked: nudism has boomed in lockdown with naturist clubs reporting a rise in applications. It’s about time people started feeling comfortable in their own skin.

Going on the show felt like confirmation that body parts don’t affect who I am. Just being happy with myself does – and I really hope other women can feel the same. As a bonus, I also enjoy thinking how stripping in the most public way feels like putting two fingers up to the boyfriends who tried to keep me insecure and covered up.

For help or information about eating disorders, visit beateatingdisorders.org.uk

‘Naked Attraction’ is available On All 4. ‘Best Naughty Bits’, looking at some of the most memorable moments across the series, starts on 18 May, 10pm, also on Channel 4

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