good wan: is gok wan the body-positive fashion guru we need?
Gok Wan, the British fashion stylist behind the Body-Positive make-over show How to Look Good Naked has returned to Australia with a brand new partnership with Target.
Riding off the successes of his shows, How to Look Good Naked and Gok’s Fashion Fix, Wan provides women and men fashion advice aimed at improving their self-worth and mind-set as well as their appearance. Unlike many make-over shows, Wan’s How to Look Good Naked does not encourage participants to undergo plastic surgery or to lose weight – instead, Wan focuses creating more positive self-perceptions. He insists that everyone can look good, regardless of weight, when they’re wearing clothes that suit their body shape. In fact, scrap the clothes: Wan rightly believes that even without anything on, you can look great – all you need is confidence. Wan is a powerful proponent of body and self love in the UK and across the world, previously speaking out about his teenage struggle to battle food addiction and depression, both stemming from bullying about being gay and his Chinese heritage.
In his twelve month campaign with Target, Wan intends to provide fashion and lifestyle advice to both men and women. Wan stated that he was very disappointed in the gap between affordable and fashionable garments and aims to correct this in his collaboration with Target. Many Australians are already aware that we pay a much higher price for identical items than our British counterparts. Accordingly, Target has dropped it’s ‘100% happy’ slogan for a ‘get more, pay less’ campaign byline.
This isn’t Gok’s first foray into Australia: in 2011 he partnered with Westfield to tour Australia. At Pitt Street Mall, he showcased the latest fashions on women – ‘clothes’ which were body-painted onto the essentially nude models. Wan often presents the human body naked, in an effort to defeat the stigma and the shame surrounding the female form. On How to Look Good Naked, Wan exhibits nude pictures of his participants in public places and asks passerby’s to give their opinions. Sounds horrific, doesn’t it? In fact, the public’s response is always overwhelmingly positive. People genuinely enjoy being presented with non-retouched images or regular women who are beautiful regardless of weight. Wan asserts that this is a way to combat rigid female physical standards and reaffirm that beauty is not confined to size or shape.
It seems that Wan has become such a popular figure in pop culture because of his relatable personality – he doesn’t claim to be perfect and doesn’t expect his participants to be either. Wan has learnt from personal experience that it can be difficult to be comfortable with oneself, yet he is adamant that true confidence can be achieved without major weight loss or cosmetic surgeries.
Is the growing popularity of Wan amongst Australian women indicative of a true change in the way we see ourselves? Did we really need an alternative fashion icon like Gok Wan to convince us that beauty is not skin-deep and that everyone can look and feel good? I believe that we did. The fact is, we’ve never had a popular fashion guru who believed weight was totally unrelated to beauty. Wan is happy to say ‘you don’t need to be perfect’ and will never suggest cosmetic procedures or diets as the way towards confidence. This belief in the beauty to be seen in every person regardless of their shape and size is refreshing in a world where beauty is often distilled down slim thighs and flat stomachs. Simply put, Wan is totally refreshing and his ideas are worth spreading. Good one Gok!