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’

Reveal - - CELEBS - By Cosmo colum­nist Dusty Bax­ter-Wright

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 cos­mopoli­ uk/love-is­land for news from the villa

How rep­re­sen­ta­tive are physiques like Laura’s?

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