As a new series of Love Island kicks off, several contestants from past seasons of the show have taken a moment to spread the message of 'be kind' and to call out the programme's lack of body diversity.
Malin Andersson, who took part in the second series of Love Island, took a minute to post a throwback promo shot of her in a gold swimsuit, and said she wanted to send a reminder to her Instagram followers that pressure to 'look' and 'feel' the same way as "everyone else does" is never healthy.
"As Love Island approaches our screens tonight (with lack of diversity might I add once again) - I invite you to take a deep breath and [think about] what the show actually entails," Malin began her poignant caption. "I rarely speak about the show and always refuse comment when giving interviews as this is not who I am anymore; however, I also need to talk about how I am forever grateful for the platform it helped me achieve... I’ve been around a while, 5 years since my series aired... [which also] means a lot of change within my soul."
She continued on to say, "[There's] pressure to look and feel the same way everyone else does. When I say this, I speak from a place of insecurity [that] I once had and pain. The pressure to be compared to others whether that be from my season, or there-after. There was a constant push of who would be successful and when not reaching that, there would be a huge amount of unworthiness and wondering if what was wrong with me."
Doctor Alex George, who competed on the fourth series of the show, and who now advises the government on mental health, also shared a photo of himself while making the point that all bodies are beautiful. Alex's picture is a more recent one, taken while he's on a seaside break, and he points out the contrast between his figure now and during his time on the show.
"Love Island is back on tv tonight and I know so many are excited to have the show back on our screens," he wrote. "Don’t panic, this photo isn’t a sign that I am going back on the island… I just wanted to post a gentle reminder to be kind online. Particularly when it comes to body image and appearance. I am proud of how I look in the photo above. I am happy and healthy. Let’s celebrate ALL body shapes and sizes."
Alex also stressed the importance of not using social media to bash contestants, reminding his followers that while the contestants themselves cannot see negative tweets or comments, their loved ones back home can.
"Always worth remembering that although the contestants can’t read your tweets or comments while they are on the island, their loved ones certainly can," he pointed out. "Importantly, so can your friends and family who might relate to that person on your screen. Enjoy the series and escapism that it brings and look to build people up and please be kind." Hear, hear!
When asked about the issue by Cosmopolitan, the show's creators suggested that body shape isn't one of the factors they keep front of mind when picking contestants. "As a broadcaster, ITV celebrates diversity of every sort across our range of programmes in our schedule and across our channels.
"In terms of casting for Love Island, the only stipulation to applicants is they must be over 18, single and looking for love," read the statement. "This year’s Love Islanders come from a diverse range of backgrounds with a mix of personalities and have a healthy BMI."
While it looks as though the new series is set to be another big-hitter with audiences, despite its shortcomings on the diversity front, we can but live in hope that next year the show-makers will tap into our desire for a shot of love handles next year.
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