Don’t kid yourself that Love Island can be ‘inclusive’

·2-min read

“I would love to be hired as Love Island’s head of diversity because I too love doing absolutely nothing”. Ouch. This was one of the many Twitter takes that have been proliferating online since ITV’s Love Island revealed its first batch of Islanders this week. A whopping 4.8 million people tuned in to watch the first episode of Love Island in January last year, and many will no doubt tune in to the new series next Monday.

Despite promising more body diversity on the show, we’re once again being faced with six women who could be cardboard cutouts of each other. Tall, slim, gorgeous flowing hair, and legs that stretch on for days. If you squint this line up could be that of any of the previous years. “Bikini-body ready”, “Instagram-worthy” singles who fit perfectly into the rather restrictive box that society deems to be beautiful.

The body positivity movement has made strides in the UK in recent years, and it seems that Love Island hasn’t got the memo. But while I absolutely hear the calls for more body diversity on the show, simply sticking one plus-size person in the villa could do more harm than good. Realistically, how do you think someone outside of the normative beauty standard would fare on the show? And why would anyone put themselves through that on national television? We have seen how cruel the men on the show (and on social media) can be to the female contestants already.

It could be that Love Island does attempt to cast different body types and people say no, for very good reasons. Shaughna Phillips, one of the winter 2020 contestants, has said she struggled in the villa.

“I spent lots of time crying to the therapist,” she admitted in an interview with The Sun. “I was surrounded by these lovely looking girls, and I felt like the show’s box-ticking fat girl.”

A programme in which the raison d’être is a guilt-free, voyeuristic consumption of normative beauty ideals will never be able to challenge said ideals in any meaningful way. They’ve made these body types their entire brand.

The trouble is of course the formula: it is inherently toxic. Maybe Love Island bosses should just cast the classic influencer lot and get on with it without all the hot air inclusivity preamble.

What do you think about the new Love Island line up? Let us know in the comments below.

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