It seems like only a few months ago fans were calling for Love Island to introduce some real body diversity to the show, but the cries have started up again already.
The summer of 2019 saw Amber Gill and Greg O’Shea storm to victory in a cast made up of beauties and models, none of whom were plus sized.
At the time, Love Island claimed it was introducing curves with Anna Vakili, a size 12 stunner from London.
Without a doubt, Anna was – and still is – gorgeous, but she is hardly reflective of the average woman in the UK who, in 2017, was a size 16.
Enter Winter Love Island, starting on Sunday 12th January, which had a real opportunity to set itself apart from the backlash thrown at the summer version last year.
In fact, a source supposedly told The Sun earlier this year that “ITV are trying to put together a more diverse cast”, adding: “Viewers can expect to see people who aren’t the norm for Love Island.”
But when the line-up for the 2020 series was released with not one plus sized woman in sight, once more some fans were left disappointed.
It goes without saying the 12 singletons are an attractive bunch, but they’re also from similar body types – athletic, slim and socially aspirational.
With the likes of Ashley Graham and Tess Halliday paving the way for plus size models to not only be accepted in society, but praised, why has this not filtered down to our everyday television viewing?
Many flocked to Twitter to comment on the lack of different bodies, with former contestant Malin Andersson leading the way. The “Body Confidence Activist” wrote to her 289,000 followers: “Still all look the sameish. No diversity. Meh.”
Other Twitter users begged Love Island to show them “all different sizes” and said the show doesn’t have “a lot of diversity at all”.
It’s the same with the male contestants. The five men about to strut their way in to the villa are all full of muscles and ready to show them off – Ollie Williams can even be seen flexing in one promo shot.
Healthy guys, no doubt, but not exactly the man on the street.
A source told RadioTimes.com: “We look for personality first and foremost – we are looking for Islanders who will entertain the nation for weeks. Our Islanders are always of a healthy weight with a healthy BMI.”
And without a doubt, Love Island does always seem to attract the bubbliest and brightest contestants every year.
The likes of 2017 winners Kem Cetinay and Amber Davies have had luck on TV screens and theatre stages while Chris Hughes has been at the forefront of shedding light on important health issues such as testicular cancer.
Camilla Thurlow and Jamie Jewitt are still romantically together and have been raising much needed attention on humanitarian issues across the globe. Not just pretty faces.
But that doesn’t change the fact that the initial 2020 line-up is yet again failing to give some viewers the body diversity they want to see on screen.
Could that be set to change in the coming weeks?
“People should always keep watching, more contestants appear throughout the run!” the source also told us.
Is this confirmation that the curves (albeit healthy ones) are coming?
Love Island appears to recognise that there is an issue surrounding body diversity, and its inclusion of the likes of Anna last summer are undoubtedly a start. Healthy bodies should of course be celebrated, but when the UK’s average size is a 16, it seems like a missed opportunity not to include someone more familiar to the everyday viewer than the athletic gods and goddesses we see each year on ITV2.
Why do we not want to watch a plus sized model find her dream man? Why should a dad bod not be given the chance to find his type on paper too? Reality shows are supposed to hold a mirror up to society and – yes, while creating entertainment and drama – should still be reflective of the UK’s diversity and wide range of bodies.
It’s hard to know how exactly to fix the issue, but perhaps the summer series could finally learn from past oversights and get the message before some viewers start to dump and recouple with another show.
An ITV spokesperson told RadioTimes.com “ITV celebrates diversity of every sort across our range of programmes and this year’s Love Islanders come from a diverse range of backgrounds with a mix of personalities.”
Love Island returns to ITV2 on Sunday 12th January 2020