When embarrassing body First premiered in 2007, it was groundbreaking. Everyday people sought help for illnesses—usually unusual, sometimes taboo, always shocking—that were making their lives miserable. On national television. In front of millions of strangers. While the contestants’ decision to undergo such public scrutiny always seemed like a mystery, the show’s open, shameless exploration of the human body was undeniably ahead of its time, predating the rise of self-love and acceptance movements that have emerged since.
It’s back for a new season after a seven-year hiatus – and once again there’s nothing they’re afraid to show us. Doctors Jane Leonard, Anand Patel and Tosin Ajayi-Sotubo are the medics running the series, replacing the original trio of doctors led by Christian Jessen (whose public profile crashed after a rogue tweet about Arlene Foster landed him a £125,000 libel bill left), Dawn Harper and Pixie McKenna. The panel might have changed, though embarrassing body‘ back episode doesn’t deviate far from its original recipe: three patients with three different problems that cause them pain and/or shame are each examined by a doctor.
As different as the problems are, the doctors treat each patient with sensitivity and friendliness, even if the observer at home might have to look through their fingers. A touching moment comes early when Dr. Anand bonds with Dani, a woman whose excess skin (which she has after losing 15 stones with a gastric bypass) makes her “feel like a monster”. Anand is quick to assure Dani that he understands the mixed feelings that can come with weight loss, having lost five kilos himself. Seeing the patient’s relief as she is carefully examined and complimented on her hard work is a reminder of the vulnerable condition some people find themselves in. After all, appearing on the show is certainly a last resort, and contestants hope to find some peace of mind after significant complaints. While we’re talking more about destigmatizing our bodies in 2022 than we did in 2007, it’s quite another matter to share some of our most personal issues with the world.
Elsewhere, we meet a former construction worker in his 20s who suffers from a discharge from his ears. Not only does this affect his hearing quality, but the “smelly pus” has also damaged his confidence and made him avoid meeting new people. For some, the show’s up-close and personal nature might just be too much to handle. Images of the man’s weeping ear, plus surgical footage of Dani’s skin and tissue removal and a depth camera shot into another patient’s blistered and irritated vulva, are all covered in the first episode alone.
Granted, it’s anything but easy to watch. but embarrassing bodyThe refusal to censor things that many would rather steer clear of is what makes them so necessary. As wait times for medical care increase, programs like this are bringing much-needed advice to the masses, while reassuring those who may be suffering in a similar way that they are not alone. With additional segments like doctors giving a college student advice on how to behave safely while using drugs and a “testival” that combines live music with sexual health care, the show is a judgment-free zone that encourages us to be less squeamish – and it is also a win for all of us.
https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/reviews/embarrassing-bodies-review-e4-tv-b2083315.html Embarrassing Bodies Review: Undaunted, important medical show returns with ears pus and vulva blisters