“They look like the girls from Instagram, but real….”.

 

Of course it was only a matter of time before a Love Island post hit my Instagram feed. I will be honest and say that like much of the nation I am currently glued to the TV most evenings come 9pm to watch the latest antics from the villa.

I find the show a pretty good way to unwind and it’s actually quite a good insight into how humans interact with each other sans social media and navigate their emotions in such a high intensity environment. That said, I like many others feel it’s important to question the programmes lack of body diversity and in particular the above comment made by Niall on the opening episode.

There have been numerous articles and tweets, good ones I might add about how the TV show plays into the hands of the idealisation of the male and female form. The average dress size in the UK is a 16 with the Love Island contestants average thus far falling significantly under this. What is this saying about who is and isn’t worthy of love and what women of all ages should be aspiring to?

What hit me most poignantly however, was Niall’s comment on the first episode. “They’re like the girls from Instagram but real” said the student, intending it to be a compliment. You can probably guess the kinds of girls he’s referring to, the ones that hang out on our instagram explore page and likely fuel an unhealthy body image obsession or just don’t make us feel so great about ourselves.

Now I want to touch on what I’m about to say next very sensitively. Primarily, what I want to say is that I don’t want to knock or criticise anyone who’s undergone cosmetic surgery for any reason. We all have the right to make our own decisions and should be respected for them. However, a number of contestants this year have had cosmetic surgery, invasive or otherwise. Recently, Kendall admitted that the show’s producers had pressured her into botox before appearing in the villa. I’m not for a minute saying that this makes these girls any less real, less beautiful or less worthy, I just think perhaps younger, more naive and impressionable audiences should be made aware of the procedures so as not to compare themselves to achieving a standard of beauty that is fairly unobtainable without additional measures.

And are the boys exempt? Certainly not! Last years series spiked sales of steroids among young men in the UK and this year is likely to be no exception. At the moment, subtext pretty much reads if you have abs of steel you can get what you want and if not forget it. Similarly, if you’re a girl that what’s to go slow, you may risk being dumped (this is perhaps the most sinister undertone of all)! Whilst personality is being talked about, appearance is clearly dominating. And whilst physical attraction is obviously important when it comes to romance, why aren’t we being able to see examples of this in any other body types other than that of Barbie and the Incredible Hulk.

Conversely, what I do think is refreshing is being able to see insecurities and lack of self-confidence even in those who represent the ideals of beauty. In a world that consistently tells us that slenderness equals happiness, it’s good to see that no matter what your weight, shape or otherwise, we all go through the rollercoaster of emotions and don’t always have an easy ride of it. We’re only 1 week down out of 8 through the series so I’m really hoping that Love Island might have something exciting in store for us in the next few weeks and some contestants that might better represent body diversity the UK should be proud of.

 

Love Isabella x

Instagram @goodnessguru