The Love Island BODY BACKLASH
There’s no doubt this year’s line-up is gorgeous – but is the reality TV show reflecting, er… reality? Viewers think not… ‘THE SHOW NEEDS MORE CURVY WOMEN’
They’re tanned, toned and immaculately groomed – and that’s just the men! There’s no doubt that TV bosses have assembled another crop of beautiful people for this year’s Love Island.
As Islander Niall himself quipped when he got his first look at the women, ‘They look just like they’ve come off Instagram.’
With all the girls looking slim and petite, it’s clear to see that none of them are bigger than a size 10. And, given that many of the show’s fans are women – whose average UK size is 16
– it’s no wonder there’s been a backlash about the stereotypical ‘perfect’ bods on show.
Twitter user @abbie19972012 wrote, ‘#LoveIsland knocking girls’ body confidence since 2015’, while @Bootstrapcook asked, ‘Briefly tuned into #LoveIsland for the first time ever to see what the fuss was about – whyyyy are all the girls so THIN?
It’s shoddy, unrealistic and hammers home that only one body type is sexy… It’s 2018 ffs not 1999.’
‘Would be great if #LoveIsland actually put people of all sizes etc into the villa,’ @Stephaniehydex argued. And @bekybond123 added, ‘Why are theyre [sic] no curvy women or men with no muscles etc on #LoveIsland? It isn’t all about your “body” – that’s not what makes you beautiful!’
Even fellow reality TV stars waded in to the debate. Former Geordie Shore star Holly Hagan wrote, ‘I wonder if there will ever be anyone remotely curvy in @LoveIsland?’
Liam Preston, head of the Be Real campaign, which promotes body confidence to young people, told a newspaper, ‘Given the programme’s popularity among a young audience, it would have been an opportune moment to show that love isn’t just about looks. However, the show’s casting is encouraging a one-dimensional viewpoint on attraction.’
‘The last 12 months have seen the body-positive movement in the UK come on leaps and bounds. Missguided is no longer airbrushing stretch marks; ASOS has made a commitment to diversifying body types, and women of varying shapes and sizes are finally (finally!) being portrayed in mainstream media.
But one of the biggest cultural phenomenons that seemingly hasn’t got the memo yet is ITV2’s Love Island. A whopping 3.4 million people tuned in to catch the first episode last Monday (more than double last year’s opener of 1.3 million), who were met in return by five women with one specific body type.
Tall. Slim. Legs up to their ears. Hair down to their waist. Perfect jigsaw pieces who fit what society has for so long deemed “beautiful”, “beach-body ready”, and now “Instagram-worthy”.
I’m not denying that this is a body type that exists in society. Of course it does. It’s not like five women with purple and green polkadot skin have been shoved into the villa.
Some people are slim. Some people are tall. And some people do have flawless skin.
But, from the 55,000 applications Love Island received in the first 24 hours, are these five women a fair reflection of the diversity of body types? Are the chosen ones an accurate depiction of the spectrum of female forms across the country, or the celebration of diversity that it could have been? I’m saying no.
To me, Love Island’s choice of “sexy singles” sends a clear message: anyone with curves simply couldn’t enjoy a “long, hot summer”. Plus-size isn’t sexy. Anybody that isn’t toned and tanned isn’t the ideal.
The average woman in the UK in 2017 was a size 16 with a 34in waist and 36DD breasts and, while the Love Island girls might have the latter, why is there not more representation when it comes to the former? Why, when the average body size is a 16, are the five women picked from thousands all four dress sizes smaller than this?
Let’s give Love Island the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the girls were all picked separately for their amazing personalities (which I genuinely have no doubt they have), and it was only when they were all put together that someone thought, “Wait a minute, aren’t all these bodies the same?” Maybe it was a coincidence.
But, even if that is the case (side note: how likely?), ITV2 should have been more aware than that. They should see the changing landscape around them – the women encouraging other women to love the skin they’re in; the bodies that refuse to conform to social media’s ideas of beauty; the women who are curvy and own it.
And, more than that, they should take into account the impressionable young people who will be tuning in day in, day out, for the next seven weeks. The 3,400,000 of us who will be bombarded with impossibly beautiful, toned, tanned, slim people every night who don’t look like the vast majority.
Those of us who get chub rub, and wobble, and have hip dips and tummy rolls and don’t look anything like the ladies of Love Island when we’re in a bikini, who will be constantly faced with the “ideal” of what we should be. Where are the back rolls? The thick thighs? The figure that doesn’t look completely impossible to attain?
These women’s bodies are beautiful in their own right, but so are the hundreds of thousands of other body types that are not being represented on the show.
In a year where the media is at last celebrating body diversity, Love Island has missed a trick by not following suit – so let’s hope the producers have a surprise or two up their sleeves…’
We have asked ITV2 and Love Island to comment. This article first appeared on Cosmo’s website.
Check out cosmopolitan.com/ uk/love-island for news from the villa
How representative are physiques like Laura’s?