Four weeks into the first-ever winter Love island, and it’s giving us just as much whiplash as the previous series. Even if you don’t consider yourself a fan, I bet you can’t resist checking in to see which new islander has caught the ‘ick’ or who’s been caught playing games. But some things never change. This series, along with the five others, features a cast of islanders who are all undoubtedly stunning.
It’s not a new concept that the Love island cast is made up of model-like people, and ITV has received a lot of backlash for casting people with such little diversity. Portraying an image that fits into the stereotypical standard of beauty in western society but is hardly representative of the majority of people.
“What’s the problem?” You might ask. The truth is, the idea of Love Island is that the cast is supposed to be made up of normal people, e.g. non-celebrities. We as an audience might expect to see some representation of us on our screens. Instead, we are met with a pool of catwalk ready models, leaving our own summer bodies feeling somewhat inadequate.
Don’t get me wrong, I give credit where credit is due. The Islanders have clearly worked hard in the gym. Shaughna Phillips, the nation’s favourite of this series, has shared pictures on her Instagram detailing major weight loss which is commendable. Realistically, if you were told you were about to be filmed in swimwear for six weeks, you would spend some time with a PT in the gym too, right?
But why can’t there be more inclusion of different body types? Why are they afraid to show us plus-size people trying to find love? Jack Fincham from series four rocked the boat when he became the only man to enter the villa who did not have a six-pack. Did his lack of abs hurt his chances in the villa because he didn’t conform to societal pressures? He went on to win, so I would think not!
By circulating images of ‘perfect bodies’, the producers of Love Island are sending a message to its viewers that this is the most attractive body type and anything else, is unacceptable.
What’s more, the notion that one person can represent a whole group of people, is ludicrous. Simply put: having one person in the villa who doesn’t fit the status quo does not make a group diverse! It’s a miserably failed attempt to please the public.
Perpetuating fake body ideals is outdated and harmful, as it can have negative effects on viewers who may already have low self-esteem, causing them to be more self-critical. Modelling companies are being scrutinised for using models that look unhealthily skinny. Nowadays we are celebrating brands that show their models’ stretch marks and cellulite. This is the type of influence Love Island producers should be using, to show the audience a more realistic representation of people so that audiences are not left feeling so disconnected from those on-screen.
Despite all the criticism, producers don’t seem to be doing anything to make the cast more inclusive of body types. So, the question arises- would Love Island be just as popular if it ditched thigh gaps for muffin tops and six-packs for beer bellies? We won’t know the answer unless we see action, but until then we must remember that; all body types are beautiful, and there is no such thing as the perfect body.