Looking good, feeling good always in style for Kressley
Since "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" premiered, Carson Kressley has fully thrown himself into the role of national gay genie, escorting all kinds of slovenly men and women to Fabulousville on his magic carpet. With his eyebrows plucked to within an inch of their lives, his duck lips plumped and pretty, and his blond hair precisely in place, he has worked overtime to raise self-esteem as well as credit card debt.
And, you know, God bless Kressley, who plays the Dr. Feelgood to women with body-image issues in a new series called "How to Look Good Naked." The Lifetime show, tonight at 9, is based on a British reality show of the same title, but it's hard to imagine anyone other than Kressley riding this vehicle. It is a perfect outlet for his gushy supportiveness, his superior taste, and his endless supply of campy quips such as, tonight, "I'm your fairy god-stylist and you're my Cinderella!" While he comes dangerously close to embodying the elfin stereotype of the gay man as straight subordinate, he is such a relentlessly positive fellow it's hard to fault him. Indeed, Kressley has become quite the affirmation queen.
The philosophy of "How to Look Good Naked" is that regular women are taught to dislike their appearances by the fashion industry, which features only pipe-cleaner-thin models. "We're all too quick to hate our own bodies," Kressley says. His goal on the show is to help women unlearn their negative self-perceptions and to make them comfortable with their own nakedness. In each episode, Kressley zeroes in on a new woman, standing her in her underwear in a circle of full-length mirrors and talking tearfully with her about self-loathing.
The bulk of the half hour is spent in merry makeover mode, but with no dieting, liposuction, or nose jobs. The show is all about how "looking cute is feeling cute," as Kressley puts it, and he repeatedly emphasizes accepting and embracing your body as it is, rather than beating yourself up trying to change it. Are expensive fashions thrown at the women? Are there high-end skin products, luxury spas, and unsubtle product placements? Yes, of course. "How to Look Good Naked" isn't a purist's approach to self-love, and some of the good feeling comes from the outside in. But the general message - you're not as bad as you think you are - is hard to quibble with.
The show runs the risk of becoming formulaic, as each episode takes a different subject through essentially the same process. It's interesting the first time we see a woman listening to strangers on the street commenting on a photo of her body as it's projected on a building in Los Angeles. It becomes somewhat repetitive over the course of a few episodes, though, as does the regular segment in which Kressley takes his charges to visit a lady he calls "The Bra Whisperer." Like so many of these makeover shows, if you've seen one episode you've pretty much seen them all. And, of course, each week the women play their roles as expected, changing from downtrodden to liberated in what seems like hours. Talk about your quick fixes. Still, Kressley does his best to add freshness, and a few warm hugs, to the redundancy.