WITH a deaf candidate and four ethnic minority people, this year’s Love Island line-up should be its most diverse ever.
But as soon as they showed off in their swimwear in the first episode, many viewers thought the ITV2 bosses had missed the diversity mark in terms of body types.
One Twitter user wrote: “Every year the girls are all so tiny?! When it comes to body sizes, there is hardly any variation.”
Another asked: “I wonder if Love Island will ever put some curvy girls in for a change?”
While another tweet read, “Why does this program never represent different body types?”
It’s this lack of variety that has led to plus-size model Felicity Hayward — author of the body positive manifesto Does My Butt Look Big In This — refusing to tune in.
As fast-fashion brands adored by the show’s fans and former contestants are finally selling skimpy thong bikinis in Felicity’s size and above, the 33-year-old says reality TV is still lagging behind.
She said: “I feel like Love Island pushes the narrative that only one type of body is desirable. And I think that’s incredibly toxic.
“I wish different bodies were more normalized. All types of bodies should be in there, not just society’s standards of beauty.
“It would make it so interesting and amazing to use people from different backgrounds, not just thin and toned, mostly white women with tans and guys with veneers.”
It’s a positive step that this year’s lineup is a little more representative of society than previous years – and attendees have been trained in diversity and inclusion.
But Felicity, who is a size 20, believes many young people looking up to this new generation of reality TV stars, including Villa hope Paige Thorne, will be doomed due to unattainable body standards.
She says: “There’s no point in having body image in every industry. It can do as much harm as eating disorders and mental health issues because they are trying to take on another person’s appearance.
“A lot of people go under the knife and have surgery because they’re trying to change themselves to look like a different person.
“There lies the problem. If there is no diversity, people will try to look the same.”
As for the thong bottoms and triangle bikinis — from retailers like Boohoo and Misspap — that have become synonymous with the show, Felicity says there’s no reason curvier women shouldn’t be sporting them, too.
Many Love Islanders are doing business with clothing brands – Molly-Mae Hague has signed a £500,000 deal with Pretty Little Thing – and they are now selling their tiny bikinis in size 30.
Felicity said: “I last wore a Pretty Little Thing bikini on holiday.
“For me, as a plus-size woman, I could never wear a small thong bikini because it had never been in my size before.
“And I finally felt like I was part of the fashion industry because they made smaller designs for bigger women.
I feel Love Island pushes the narrative that only one body type is desirable. And I think that’s incredibly toxic
Plus size model Felicity Hayward
“We now have a choice. We don’t always want to wear high-waisted pieces or cover our bodies or be told we can only wear certain things. I think it’s great that there’s an option for us now.”
However, the fashion industry hasn’t always gotten it right.
An example is vanity sizing, where brands offer a garment one size smaller than it really is.
And Felicity recalls a time as a brand’s guest at the Fashion Awards, when she was only given one piece of clothing to wear, while thinner models had braces to choose from. She declined to participate.
But Felicity, who has modeled for TK Maxx, L’Oreal and Mac, says the tide is changing as brands finally realize all shapes can sell clothes. And she thinks it’s high time reality shows like Love Island caught up.
“I think it’s all about money,” she says. “They’re putting that same ideal image on this show because it works, and they’re going to get a lot of sponsorship from brands that want to use these people as their ambassadors.
“Love Island is successful because they make a hell of a lot of money with the sponsors. So why should they change it?
“They say every year they’re going to change it and add more inclusion.”
But what Felicity doesn’t want to see is a plus-size contestant used as tokenism — she wants a wide range of body shapes that truly represent society. She says: “It would also be quite toxic just to bring one plus-size person in.
“If you give the illusion that only one body shape is ideal and you put a curvier woman or man in there and they’re not the same as other people, then they’re being ridiculed.
“Check out Rihanna’s Savage Fenty show – a show that features insane diversity and inclusion across all different shapes, sizes, genders, abilities and ages.
“It’s so empowering and amazing, it makes you feel like this is humanity.
“That’s what people like Love Island should show, but instead they’re selling a dream.”
- Does my butt look big in this? A Body Positivity Manifesto by Felicity Hayward (£16.99, Greenfinch) is available now in hardcover and audiobook.
Love Island 2022: Meet the Islanders
Read the latest Love Island news, gossip and exclusives
https://www.the-sun.com/lifestyle/5528654/love-island-toxic-skinny-women/ Love Island is toxic — it’s skinny women and tanned guys with veneers, not people like me, says Felicity Hayward