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Words by Mollie Quirk, 23, from London
Each year, when Love Island bursts onto my TV screen, I’m excited to see which couple I’ll be backing throughout the hot (or rainy) British summer.
But as much as I love watching stunning girls and equally stunning boys couple up, a plus-size woman I’m also reminded of exactly why I would never apply to go on the show.
Blonde hair, tiny waists, thighs seemingly cellulite-free, perky boobs and toned stomachs – let’s face it, most female Love Island contestants conform to traditional beauty standards.
And while there’s nothing wrong with that, as a UK size 16-18, I can’t help but agree with the increasingly loud calls for the show to become diverse. After all, as someone who campaigns for inclusion within the fashion industry, standardised sizing and body confidence, I know first-hand how much a more diverse Love Island would mean to young women.
So why won’t I head into the villa, you ask?
To put it lightly, I don’t think it would end well. Sure, in an ideal world a plus-size woman on a mainstream dating show would be groundbreaking. But fatphobia is still very real in 2021 and when even the prettiest, slimmest girls who head into the villa end up getting trolled and harassed for their looks, just imagine what it would be like for a fat girl.
And as comfortable as I am walking around in a swimsuit or lingerie, I know the backlash I would receive would be enormous – trolls would call me ‘fat’, they’d point out my cellulite, my saggy boobs and my jiggly thighs and then all of the years I’ve spent learning to love my body would be wasted.
Trolling aside, there are many things that happen inside the villa that would make me feel uncomfortable and awkward, from the recouplings to the ‘sexy’ challenges.
I can’t even imagine standing in front of the infamous firepit, surrounded by conventionally attractive bombshells and then not getting picked.
It would be like school PE lessons all over again, leaving me feeling degraded and unworthy.
In 2018 Alexandra Cane entered the villa and fans were overjoyed to see a ‘curvier’ figure being represented, when in reality she was just a size 10.
The same happened again when Anna Vakili headed into the villa a year later. In 2019, ITV suggested that season five of Love Island would reflect the “experiences and diversity of [the] audience,” so when Anna walked in, fans were confused.
As body positive advocate Jameela Jamil put it: “The producers of Love Island think this slim woman counts as their new token ‘plus size’ contestant? Are they drunk?”
I can remember watching both Alexandra and Anna, and even as a bigger woman I felt somehow reassured by their presence on the show. But that’s problematic in itself.
The girls never described themselves as plus-size because neither of them were – but fans and viewers were labelling them as curvy due to our own warped perception of how a woman’s body should look. For some reason, whenever a girl who has curves heads into the villa, they’re considered plus size – regardless of whether they’re anywhere near the UK average size 16.
So, while it would be wonderful to have bigger bodies represented on shows like Love Island, the sad truth is that society simply isn’t ready for it. Fatphobia is so deeply ingrained in our minds and lives that people just wouldn’t be able to cope with seeing a juicy, thick body on their screens.
Fat bodies don’t deserve to be ridiculed anymore than they already are. We are discriminated against every single day of our lives, whether it’s by clothing brands or the diet industry – so being ridiculed on screen is the last thing we need.
This summer I’ll be enjoying every single episode of Love Island while wearing my size 18 bikini and most likely tucking into an ice cream. I won’t be ‘beating myself up’ because my figure looks different from the stunners in the villa – instead I’ll be admiring other people’s beauty while realising that doesn’t diminish my own.
All bodies are worthy of love. Society just hasn’t caught up yet.
Love Island continues Sunday to Friday at 9pm on ITV2
Featured Image Credit: Mollie Quirk
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