Just like the rest of the nation, I cannot wait for Love Island. In fact, summer isn't really summer without daily doses of ITV2's hit show and hours spent dissecting every second of it with your mates on the group chat. It's like all the algorithms for successful reality TV perfectly aligned to make the best dating show the UK has to offer. But with that said, and with the new cast finally revealed, I can't help but notice that there is a severe lack of size diversity on Love Island. Again.
I very much take Love Island with a pinch of salt. In fact, a giant handful. It might be "reality" TV but it is far cry from illustrating the reality of the diversity in this country. After heavy criticisms last year for the lack of body diversity, it seemed like the fifth season might finally be addressing it, but, on first glimpse of the cast, everyone looks rather... uh toned and tiny.
Although the only criteria for being on this show is to be "over 18, single, and looking for love," each year a cohort of people that look rather similar are always cast and I can't help but sigh. In the four seasons of the show, I've never seen anyone the same size as me, let alone the average size of women in the UK, which, according to the Independent, is a size 16. And this lack of body diversity on screen sadly perpetuates the idea that only a certain people are worthy of finding love.
It was speculated that plus-sized model Jada Sezer would be a contestant this year, but after being spotted on a 10K race and not on a plane to the Love Island set, it looks unlikely she'll be on the show. Or at least not with its first round of contestants. The only woman I saw heading to the villa who looked anything remotely above a size 6/8 was Anna Vakili, an Iranian pharmacist from London. However, body inclusivity activists will be quick to point out that Vakili still fits within the strict confines of mainstream beauty standards.
Sadly, however, when diversity is introduced on Love Island, it doesn't always end well. Like for 2018 contestant Samira Mighty, the only black woman on the show who just couldn't seem to find love among her peers. In fact, in was so painful to watch Samira's experience, that I'd rather they didn't have any black women on the show at all if that's the ordeal they must face. And I can't help but harbour the same fear for any plus-size women that enter Love Island. For viewers at home, it was clear Samira was a catch. The problem lay with the people the show's producers had chosen as suitors for the women, and what their idea of desirability was. If every guy they get on Love Island has a"type on paper" that is blonde, blue-eyed, and petite, then what hope does anyone who exists outside of that rigid box have of finding love on the show?
Personally, I just take Love Island on face value, because if I mentioned every way they fail to actually represent inclusion with their contestants, I'd be here until season six. A part of me doesn't expect any form of accurate representation from the show, but another, smaller part of me can't help but hope this is the year they will actually have more people of different sizes, races, sexualities, genders, and abilities. As the show goes on, new contestants could come in at any point, so there is still hope for more size diversity, and I'll definitely be watching to find out.