Image: ITV / Love Island

Love Island should do more to support body positivity and diversity

With ITV2’s Love Island attracting over 3 million viewers, the show has taken precedence in a nationwide conversation among adolescents. Part of the fun seems to be that ITV2 producers are actively seeking bedlam in the villa by forcing the contestants to rat each other out, Hunger Games-style.

But is entertainment all Love Island can, and should, offer us? With such a high demographic of young female viewers, could the show being doing more to conquer the very angst around body image, objectification, and sex that it seemingly explores?

Let’s talk about the girls, for example. Every single one has a flat stomach, long, thin legs, a bum and big boobs. Recently, model Megan has had the most attention from the boys and objectively, she is beautiful. She’s not stick thin – great!  A step forward for curvy girls everywhere! Until we realise that she has had lip fillers, brow raisers, a boob job, etc.

Surely they could have chosen one or two people with slightly different figures

With the Kardashians and Nicki Minaj, artificially or not, providing a little body diversity in the media with their curves, and an international flare of body positivity – for all sizes – I was quite disappointed by Love Island’s failure to comply. Of 60,000 people who applied, surely they could have chosen one or two people with slightly different figures.

And it’s not just the girls – the boys too have sculpted abs and biceps. Of course, they may have wonderful personalities, and Jack, who doesn’t have raging abs, seems to be the only one in a genuine couple. With almost no body diversity, however, anything other than extreme physical fitness seems to have no place on the show and the insinuation is that other shapes and sizes are unattractive: a poisonous idea in the current climate of eating disorders and image-related mental health issues.

Anything other than extreme physical fitness seems to have no place on the show

All of this speak of being ‘naturally pretty’ with Megan’s numerous surgeries and Ellie’s peroxide hair extensions seems so wrong. Even Jack, representing the more ordinary body shape, has stupidly white teeth. It is not their modification that is worth criticising – people can do what they want with their image – but for viewers who cannot differentiate between modification and natural beauty, unachievable ideals are created. It’s hard to compete with something that literally only money can buy.

People can find love without looking like Barbie or Ken. Some girls love boys with abs, and some girls prefer boys without. Curvy girls can be sexually attractive, just as skinny girls can be. A diversification of body type eradicates the illusion that vigorous working out and surgery is necessary to be considered attractive. Love Island has us all hooked, so it’s time it proved its worth by conquering the ideals of body image rather than supplementing them.

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