Love Island Needs to do Better With Diversity

The hit ITV2 show has got everyone addicted, but they need to start listening to their viewers.

Love Island is now in its fourth season, and it seems to get more and more popular with every episode. From 9pm – 10:30pm, Twitter is full of #LoveIsland tweets, from complaints about fake friendships to excitement over real relationships. But the one thing people are screaming for in unison is better diversity, and the producers just aren’t listening.

The current season has had just one black woman, Samira. It took weeks of repeatedly chucking in replicas of the same white brunette and blonde girls before they finally put another woman of colour, Kaz in. Although the ethnic diversity with the men is better, it’s still not ideal.

Chloe Robinson has been a fan of the show since season three, and she believes they have a responsibility to show more diversity with their islanders.

“I don’t believe the show makes enough effort with diversity – particularly with women on the show,” she explains. “I stand to be corrected on this but Montana [contestant of colour in season three] I am pretty sure, was the only female last year and again we only have Samira this year. I think we should have more women from different backgrounds on the show as for some reason both Montana and Samira are going down the same path with being the odd girl out.”

This path of being the odd one out that Robinson is referring to is a pattern of men coming in and not showing them the slightest bit of interest. The idea that this is because they’re less desirable than other islanders is ludicrous. However, this is where misogynoir takes centre stage.

There is a serious issue with how black women are treated in the media. If a man manages to get a date with a slim, blonde, blue-eyed woman, he’s grafted his way to a winner. But a black woman isn’t seen as someone worth the same amount of grafting. There are many reasons for this, but the main one being that black women just aren’t represented in film and TV as leading women that men should swoon over. There is a stereotype that follows black women around, which Jonathon P. Higgins describes as “loud, vindictive, petty and always ready for some mess” in his article about the problematic portrayal of black women.

Although you’d imagine reality TV would be better at representing the real world we live in (with black women finding love just as regularly as white women), Love Island doesn’t seem to be representing this. Hayley* has been a fan of the show since season two, and she feels there is an issue with the way the show treats people of colour.

“The shows lack of effort in providing us with a diverse range of people is what lets the show down the most!” She says. “Not only that, its treatment of people of colour and how evidently they prioritise the happiness of some individuals over others”.

“The shows lack of effort in providing us with a diverse range of people is what lets the show down the most!”

It seems the men being picked to go into the villa aren’t men that are generally attracted to women of colour. The show revolves around the islanders trying to find love, but how are certain contestants able to do this when they are repeatedly casting men that aren’t attracted to them?

But skin colour isn’t the only issue when it comes to diversity. The lack of different body-types is not only frustrating to watch, but also harmful to young women and men. Robinson has seen first hand how this can affect the way people view themselves.

“The amount of women on Instagram I saw commenting on how they need to get to the gym after the first episode was quite frankly ridiculous,” Chloe says. “They are all completely toned, some slightly more curvy than others but I don’t think there is one woman in there that is naturally curvy. The males in there are also standard issue gym buff. We have Jack this year that is bucking the trend of a more ‘traditional’ male physique but the rest are chiselled to perfection which, similar to the girls, can create a complex within young males watching it”.

It goes without saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and what’s sexy to one person is completely different to what’s sexy to another person. Only promoting one version of sexy is detrimental to the mental health of people with different physiques and body-types. Hayley finds a severe lack of curvy women in the island to be dangerous for younger viewers.

“Instagram fitness models are NOT everyday people of the public!” She explains. “Where are people with curves?? The body type of love island has been solely extremely fit and hard rock abs. And especially with the women, the thin and skinny only women is so disappointing to see and sets such an unrealistic expectation for young girls who watch!”

Many viewers agree with Robinson and Hayley, and are screaming for more diversity. It’s boring to watch the same type of girl repeatedly walk into the villa. But on top of that, the show has a responsibility to show true representation of the modern day, which is much more diverse than Love Island is currently representing. It’s dangerous, irresponsible and quite frankly, bad casting. They must do better.

*Last name not revealed due to privacy request.

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