I was so excited to see the new Love Island line-up. This HAD to be the year that we were going to see some body shape diversity… Surely?! It is, after all, 2019 – we're more aware of the negative impact that the media's impossible beauty standards have on young women than ever and, crucially, the average UK woman is a size 16.
But while she, this average UK woman, is ready to see cellulite, tummy rolls and jiggly arms on such a popular, widespread TV show, it seems that the media is not – I watched the unveiling of the new contestants on the show's Instagram page and was dismayed to see a host of size 6-10 women and men with six packs… The cast includes pharmacist Anna Vakili, who is said to be the show's 'plus-size' contestant, but who is, in reality, a slim woman with a pancake-flat stomach and Kim Kardashian-esque curves.
Love Island star in the making: Anna Vakili
The line-up is far from a representative sample of our current society and it's damaging to the viewers, particularly given the show's popularity among a young, and therefore impressionable, audience who lives and breathes this content during these eight weeks of the year. It perpetuates the idea that you need to be thin to be deemed attractive and worthy of love, leading to a whole host of problems including low self-esteem and even serious eating disorders.
I'm disappointed. As a body confidence advocate, I was really hoping to see a diverse range of body shapes and sizes hit our screens – it would help make my job of getting women to love their very normal, perfectly imperfect bodies that little bit easier.
I spoke to CJ Brough of Blunt Communications, who casts talent for brands and their social campaigns, to get her thoughts on the line-up. "There is no way I would be able to present a cast list now that would be so one dimensional," says CJ. "Social campaigns get called out very quickly if they’re not fully diverse - age, race, nationality, body size, gender, - and I’ve seen whole projects be forced to change their line up as a result. I’m surprised Love Island didn’t take this opportunity to show how they’ve adapted to the current climate."
The 2019 line-up for Love Island
You could argue that I need to lighten up – I know that Love Island is a fun TV programme that's intended for light-hearted entertainment, but its lack of body diversity is a serious issue that needs addressing. Fingers crossed the casting team are reading this...
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