Love Island….light hearted but body shaming?
So its that time of year again, when Love Island is back on our screens and already in its second week.
The idea of the show, if you haven’t seen it, is a group of guys and girls live in a villa in Spain for up to seven weeks and try to find love and win £50,000. Well, thats the idea, but for those of you who have watched it, the reality is slightly different.
The people who make the show select people that are stereotypically ‘fit’, in every sense of the word. All the contestants could be considered attractive; with the guys all well toned with six packs and the ladies slim, toned with nice bums and breasts. There is a mixture of characters to go with the bodies, with many of them showing the naivety there age allows, that they bring out while walking around wearing very little and looking almost too brown from their sun tans.
The show is meant to be light hearted, which is shown by the commentary given during the program by Iain Stirling, who uses every opportunity to have a friendly swipe at the antics of the housemates. As with every year there is a range of characters; Marcel who takes every opportunity to remind people he was in ‘Blazin’ Squad’, Camilla who works removing landmines from former war zones and used to date Prince Harry and Chris who seems to struggle with the notion that ‘everyone in the villa fancies me’. They all come together to teach new vocabulary in the dating game, such as grafting, pied, muggy as well as letting people know who is ‘my type, on paper’.
However, if you watch Love Island with one eye on Twitter, it is interesting to see how the program makes viewers feel about themselves, and this is important. Viewing figures show that the program gets around 1.3 million views per show, most of these people, given national averages, don’t have the same bodies as those on screen. What I find scary is the way the strength of the dislike of themselves that comes across and the way it feeds insecurities. A selection of tweets below illustrate the point, and this is just a handful from 1000’s;
“this show does absolutely zero for my body confidence #loveisland”
“I do love #LoveIsland but I can’t help feel like poop because all the girls have the most amazing body’s and skin????”
“can I just have Jessica’s body pls #loveisland”
“Always see Montana eating and still has a body to die for??! #LoveIsland”
“If any of the love island girls would like to tell me how to get their body overnight that would be great #LoveIsland”
“#loveisland bodies aren’t exactly good for middle age body confidence.”
“If love island doesn’t make ye feel like a sack a shite about yer body then a don’t know what will #LoveIsland”
“Love island is not the programme to watch when your having a hate your body day”
“Life would be better if I had a body like the girls on Love Island”
“I’ve never ever ever ever ever felt this shit about my body thanks love island put a fat bird in there for god sake”
What is also concerning is that most of these comments are from younger females, on whom there is already enough pressure from society to look perfect without this kind of show. What perhaps makes it worse is that some of the games they play do play on the body shaming attitude, which is unnecessary and made some viewers uncomfortable;
Unfortunately, if the show had a more accurate cross section of the body types in the UK, it may not get as many viewers, therefore not as much money for ITV. Admittedly, in the interest of fairness and as you’d expect from Twitter, there are many other opinions shared that cover the issues of body image and have a grasp on the fact that a ‘great body’ isn’t everything’
“Jess is proof that no matter how unreal your body is all girls have self confidence issues #LoveIsland”
“If love island hasn’t made people realise how personality is sooooo much more important than looks then I don’t know what will”
“Chris from love island is a perfect example of how someone’s personality can make them SO ugly, no matter how physically attractive they are”
“Love Island shows you how important personality really is”
I guess what I am simply trying to make clear, is that your body shape doesn’t define you as a person, and it is also easier to change your body than it is your natural personality. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for healthy living and looking after yourself, but equally you need to try and be happy in your skin. Ironically, Caroline Flack, the presenter of the shows Sunday evening show recently talked about being more happy in her skin at 37 than she was at 22. Granted, she has a figure that many would love, but the rhetoric is well intentioned.
So, in summary, I am not telling anyone not to watch Love Island, but simply if you do watch it, do so with an open mind that these people aren’t perfect, and that your personality and character massively when it comes to you as a person and how you’re perceived by others.
If you don’t like your body, take small steps to change it. You only have one, so learn to love it, try not to care what other people think of it, as its the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.