Does Love Island Have A Body Diversity Issue?

"Did ITV purposefully choose thin women and super-muscular men to represent people worthy of love?"

Summer is here which means it’s finally time for our favourite pastime – sitting down in front of the telly with a Chinese and a bit of Love Island.

ITV’s dating show is our ultimate guilty pleasure (to be honest, we don’t even feel guilty about it anymore) but it’s recently come under fire for its lack of body diversity.

Former Geordie Shore star Holly Hagan weighed in on the topic, writing “I wonder if there will ever be anyone remotely curvy in Love Island.” Her tweet gained more than 5,000 retweets and 31,000 likes.

Jessica Hayes, who’s been on the island herself, totally agreed.

“I literally said the exact same. How am I the curviest girl to go on so far!? So many amazing girls out there with way more curves than me,” she tweeted in response.

Liam Preston, head of the Be Real campaign which promotes body confidence and tackles attitudes towards body image in the UK, made a similar point when speaking to The Independent.

“Love Island continues to glorify the male and female body in a way which only promotes one stereotypical look,” he said. “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 effects of Love Islands casting choice can already be seen on social media with countless young women across Ireland and the UK tweeting their dissatisfaction with their own bodies while watching the show. One Twitter user wrote that she needed to “stop eating” while others used the word “depressed” to describe their feelings.

But was this a conscious choice? Did ITV purposefully choose thin women and super-muscular men to represent people worthy of love? An argument could be made for this, as the application process asks wannabe Islanders to submit an unfiltered video of themselves, multiple photographs, and to list their height.

But on the other hand, we have to question whether ITV’s choice of contestants should be taken seriously at all. For one, a group of twenty-something singletons on a tropical island who swap partners every week is hardly a representation of the real world. Plus, the show doesn’t appear to be holding the contestants up as completely aspirational figures, with Scottish comedian Iain Stirling frequently making cutting comments in his voiceovers. And who doesn’t love laughing at the Islanders’ ridiculous one-liners?

So how should Love Island react to this discussion?

Firstly, it’s important that no one is made to feel ashamed of their appearance. All body types are beautiful and those who are on the show or fit the image it currently presents should not be ‘skinny-shamed’ or told to ‘eat a hamburger’ by online trolls. Similarly, popping a token curvy girl on the show isn’t truly celebrating the many body types that exist. Rather Liam Preston says the show should “cast a more diverse range of body shapes and sizes.”

While the current format of the show seems to be men and women who meet the ‘Hollywood’ ideal of hotness, it doesn’t have to be that way. What’s the harm in seeing an entirely different batch of singles next year, ones who represent more than one type of person?


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