Love Island this year is now over, and it’s left us thinking about what the show has left in its wake this year. It’s no surprise that during the time the show was being aired, and adverts were widespread, that the NHS issued a body image warning.
This reality TV show, which became a bizarre family-viewing show, has brought up a lot of conversations that are worth having.
Why is it so important? What exactly is body image? Why should we care?
Love Island Controversies?
I was listening to Women’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 about the controversies surrounding the TV show, and they mentioned some very important talking points.
Rachel Hosie, an assistant lifestyle editor at the Independent and host of a dating podcast called 'Millennial Love', talks about the impact the show had on body dissatisfaction.
She mentions that the contestants that were selected to be on the show, do not represent the average person. Also, the selection of contestants was not representative of varying body types and looks.
Unsurprisingly, the lack of body diversity led to a flood of comments on Twitter about body dissatisfaction and body insecurities.
The message being conveyed by the show is that “you have to look a certain way to be deemed attractive and to be deemed worthy of love.”
Yes, I know a lot of people are thinking that this issue may not be that serious and that, after all, it is only a TV show and it is pure entertainment – surely young people can’t be taking it that seriously?
However, the Head of NHS suggests that the show has increased pressure for young women to undergo cosmetic surgery procedures and have fed into issues surrounding a negative body image.
Body dissatisfaction can start from a young age and can lead to a number of additional issues such as anxiety, depression and eating disorders.
Mr. Stevens points out that the responsibility to alleviate issues that young people have toward body image pressures should be shared with the influencers in TV, advertising, and social media.
After all, this is the environment in which the youth are being exposed to these type of issues.
What is it? Body image, basically, is a person’s perception, thoughts, and feelings of their physical self.
The result of how individuals perceive themselves is what impacts them in either a positive or negative way or both. Sometimes, it can be harmless, but sometimes it can be harmful.
There are a few aspects of body image:
1. Your perceptual body image – is how you perceive your body, which may not always be accurate to what your body actually looks like.
2. Your affective body image - is about how you feel about your body and how satisfied or dissatisfied you are with it relating to your shape, weight, size etc.
3. Your cognitive body image -is how you think about your body and what you think will make you feel better about how you perceive your body.
4. Behaviours as a result of your perceived body image. This is where your positive/negative thoughts/feelings about your body alter the way you behave.
And it’s in situations where people’s behaviour becomes harmful or destructive, that this topic of conversation becomes an important one to have.
Why is positive body image important?
Positive body image happens when you are able to accept, appreciate and respect your body. It can make you less susceptible and more resilient to developing an eating disorder and any other harmful acts toward your body.
It helps to improve your self-esteem and your self-acceptance. It can also help you to have a healthy outlook to leading balance lifestyle with a healthy attitude.
Furthermore, it may also allow you to adopt healthier practices relating to food and exercise and how you respond to the needs of your body.
What causes body dissatisfaction?
Body dissatisfaction is developed when you have negative thoughts and feelings about your body. It can be an internal or external process and can start at a very young age.
There are so many external factors that can impact how a person sees and feels about themselves and how they look. It could be an opinion or passing comment by family, friends or acquaintances.
In today’s digital age, a major contributor to body dissatisfaction is social media. The images that are portrayed often promote unrealistic and unobtainable appearance ideals.
Often, the images are edited and fabricated for publishing purposes and cannot, realistically, be achieved.
Those who compare themselves to what they see on social media may experience negative thoughts and feelings about their body, which, if translates to negative behaviour, can be harmful to their psychological and physical health.
The Love Island Effect
Watching hours of image-focused TV programs may have the same negative effect on your self-esteem as scrolling through social media, through hundreds of body images.
The impact goes beyond viewers and may also affect the contestants that are on the show.
A little reminder from her: enjoy the show but please watch responsibly.
Other people’s bodies shouldn’t have an impact on how we think or feel about our own. Everyone is built in different shapes and sizes, we all live different lives and lifestyles, which is one of the reasons we look different from one another.
Body dissatisfaction has long existed in the world we live in. But, we shouldn’t allow negative messages, that may promote negative body images, to perpetuate through social media and reality TV shows.
Because negative body image can lead to dysfunctional eating behaviours, anxiety and depression in our youth and we don’t want that, do we?