We're big fans of Love Island, but when it comes to body diversity and representation, the show is often accused of falling short. Given that the body confidence movement has only continued to thrive over the past few years, it feels all the more disappointing that this season - once again - the chosen contestants don't reflect society at large.
One person who feels particularly let down by the show right now is self-love activist Megan Jayne Crabbe, who earlier this week took to social media to question the reality TV show's casting choices.
Directing her Instagram reel on the subject (which has now been viewed over a million times) at the young people "who are taking that in every night, and anyone else who might need the reminder", Megan outlined how viewers can stay positive about their own bodies and ignore the one dimensional idea of beauty that the show perpetuates.
"It may seem like this body type is the norm because it's the only one we ever see celebrated on TV and social media but the majority of people do not look like that," Megan explained on her Instagram video. "People of all shapes and sizes go on dates, get flirted with, fall in love, and have great sex... every day."
She continued, "Your primary purpose in life is not to just be attractive to people. You have more important shit to do. And your worth does not depend on whether someone would turn their head for you."
Megan also noted that we shouldn't put blame on the Love Island contestants themselves, but rather look to the wider picture. "Everyone on Love Island is just doing their best to navigate impossible and exclusionary beauty standards. Don't be mad at the individuals, be mad at the industries that profit billions from convincing us there's only one way."
When speaking to Cosmopolitan about what inspired her to make the video, Megan said she realised that if the show could have such an impact on her – somebody who follows people of all shapes and sizes, swerves diet culture at all costs, and surrounds herself with others who believe we're all more than just how we look – it must be seriously tough for teenagers. Some of whom may never have heard of the body positivity movement.
"I put together a few points that are almost like a '101 lesson in body acceptance'," she shared. "The ideal is not what most people look like, you can have a full and exciting life without looking like that, your appearance and your desirability are not your worth."
Megan added, "All of us (even the Love Islanders) are just doing our best to get by within diet culture and unrealistic beauty standards." She also shared that she was initially unsure about whether or not to post her thoughts, as the impact of Love Island on our self-esteem has been dissected numerous times, not only from a size diversity perspective, but also with regards to the ongoing issues surrounding how darker-skinned Black women have been barely represented. As well as how those women are then treated within the villa when they are.
However, Megan reasoned that, "after the year we've had" during the pandemic, "our collective body image is in a really vulnerable place" and believed her video could add value to the conversation.
She also called out the show's damaging connotation between romantic love, desirability and psychical perfection, explaining, "They reinforce the misconception that fitting the beauty standard is necessary to find romantic and sexual connection, and they don't even scratch the surface of what actual love looks like because they're too busy making it all about image."
This, Megan continues, is particularly dangerous to younger viewers. "A lot of the adult audience can take it with a pinch of salt and enjoy the entertainment value, but the younger ones watching are getting some pretty messed up messages about what a healthy, romantic connection looks like. Don't even get me started on the lack of communication skills on display!"
Here's hoping maybe the new arrivals will reflect the world we live in, instead of upholding outdated beauty standards.
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