There are two things that have been dominating the conversation in offices across the UK in the last few weeks; the World Cup and Love Island.
Whilst the former has brought people together, the latter seems to have sparked numerous debates and heated conversations.
It’s the most viewed programme ever on ITV2, however the reality show has drawn criticism for its lack of diversity. Little Mix singer Leigh-Anne Pinnock took to Twitter saying:
For most people, she has a point. The show is now in its fourth season, however when you look back, out of 97 islanders, there has been a total of 17 people of colour on the show. Among them, two have had South Asian origins – Omar Sultani and Malin Andersson (who is mixed Sri Lankan and Swedish)
However I actually found myself asking another question altogether; Do we really want diversity and representation on a show like Love Island?
Yes, it’s been a runaway success, but at what expense? There has been criticism of emotional abuse, exploiting contestants who have mental health issues as well as the show featuring and promoting unrealistic body images. This has led to a surge of Brits and young people unhappy in their own skin.
Simon Stevens, CEO of NHS England spoke on the Andrew Marr show and said, “The time has come to think long and hard about whether we should be exposing young people to those kinds of pressures.”
Furthermore, nearly half (47%) of people aged 18-24 have felt so stressed by their body image and appearance that they have felt overwhelmed or unable to cope, according to an MHF report published in May.
Even presenter Caroline Flack admitted that the show portrays unrealistic body standards through their casting.
While it’s important that we do call out a lack of representation, it’s worth thinking about the wider effects of what we want to associate ourselves with.
Do we really want a seat at a table that leaves young people questioning their self-worth through superficial ideals? If anything, we should be encouraging representation in spaces that adds value to people and encourages self-acceptance.
Stylist Magazine explained the issue wasn’t one of diversity but rather of how society views different ethnic minorities. Viewers have seen Samira Mighty struggle to forge a genuine connection with any of the men in the villa and even saw her break down at one point.
Love Island’s premise of contestants finding love in a Majorca villa may make for entertaining television, but it has also thrown up some serious questions about society’s perception of beauty, with damaging effects to ethnic minorities.
If we want to change this, it’s not going to be on a show like Love Island where so far, we’ve seen copious amounts of sex scenes, rotational coupling and plastic surgery adverts during breaks. So rather than demand more diversity, let’s demand better entertainment all around where we flip the script and tear beauty standards down, and build each other up.