Body im­age in­sights are not just skin deep

Naked on the Inside 10pm, SBS

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv - Ker­rie Mur­phy

THE Fri­day late- night doco on SBS has earned a rep­u­ta­tion as a kink­fest, the sort of thing you can tell your open- mouthed mates about in the pub later. Mor­bidly obese women and the men who like to keep them that way. Life in broth­els. And more bondage than you can shake a spiked stick at.

With a ti­tle such as Naked on the Inside you may be think­ing that you’re set for an evening of pervy nud­erama. How­ever, al­though there are naked peo­ple in this doc­u­men­tary, sex isn’t the point.

Di­rec­tor Kim Far­rant talks to five peo­ple from var­i­ous parts of the world with dif­fer­ent body is­sues, invit­ing them to paint a self- por­trait and ask­ing them to dis­robe for the cam­eras. Some­times you don’t see all that much of their bod­ies, but the process re­veals far more about who they are and how peo­ple re­late to their bod­ies.

All the sub­jects have bod­ies out­side the norm. Rick Stray is a mother of two from Queens­land’s Sun­shine Coast who had a lumpec­tomy and then a mas­tec­tomy be­cause of breast can­cer. Bri­tish- born Dave Tool is a dancer with no legs. Mar­cus Van is a wo­man liv­ing in Tai­wan as a man. Shirley Sh­effield and Carre Otis are the yin and yang of the US’s re­la­tion­ship with food.

Af­ter a lot of soul search­ing, most of them have come to terms with their bod­ies ( only Mar­cus is clearly un­com­fort­able about what is un­der his clothes) and how much it re­flects who they are, which in turn in­vites the viewer to con­sider their own re­la­tion­ship with theirs.

It’s in­ti­mate view­ing, thanks to Far­rant’s un­ob­tru­sive in­ter­view style. When deal­ing with the bod­ies of the large, the scarred or de­formed, it’s hard not to ven­ture into freak- show ter­ri­tory, find­ing your­self guiltily wish­ing they’d hurry up and get their gear off so you can cop a squiz, but for the most part it’s a thought­ful med­i­ta­tion. Al­most too thought­ful. While Naked on the Inside is in­ter­est­ing view­ing, it does feel as if it’s try­ing to do too much. The story of each sub­ject is al­most worth a doc­u­men­tary of its own. On top of that there’s the por­trait is­sue, which is only half ad­dressed: we don’t see any work be­yond that of Rick’s un­fin­ished piece. And it’s clear from the press ma­te­rial that Far­rant went on a jour­ney of her own with her body im­age, so it’s hard not to wish we saw more of that as well.

Who would have thought a doc­u­men­tary called Naked on the Inside could leave you want­ing to see more?

Thought­ful, un­ob­stru­sive style: Kim Far­rant re­flects on body images

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