The summer of love is here. Caroline Flack is currently ridiculously tanned and standing on the edge of a pool in a villa, that 12 young and beautiful soon-to-be reality TV stars will be entering later. In case you didn’t know, Love Island is the guilty pleasure TV show that defines the summer for millions of people across the country as 12 people enter a villa looking for love. But, it’s been pretty hard to miss the criticism it’s come under lately for lack of aftercare for the people thrust into the limelight in a matter of weeks, especially bad given the online trolling culture that surrounds the show. It can also be a bit of a difficult watch for some people, as the screen is dominated by tiny waists, burning hot tans and a different swimsuit every single day. This is all why we wanted to put together a little list of 7 things to remember for everyone before you get stuck into the show.
1) The contestants are people too
Given it is usually one of the biggest television events of the year, it’s unsurprising that everyone starts talking about it pretty early on and doesn’t shut up until the finale later in the summer. The thing is, a lot of the discussions around it are often negative, making fun of, selling stories or spreading rumours about the contestants. Not only do they have no way of standing up for themselves until they get voted off, meaning they actually can’t even be a part of the discussion about themselves, but it can be pretty hard on their mental health. Remember before entering into this type of talk that the people, even though they may be miles away and on TV, are people with emotions and families and feelings who will probably be hurt by what is being said.
2) Think before you hate
Before you write a negative comment about one of the contestants on Twitter, think about why you want to do that. Is it to join in a healthy conversation, or is it just for the sake of being negative? It is always good to think about the reasons behind why you want to post something before doing it, especially when it comes to complete strangers who you only know through the TV. Remember that the only portion of their lives is the tiny bit of it that you see on screen, and there could be a lot more going on with them than meets the eye.
3) Reality TV is not all it’s cracked up to be
It can look good though right? Despite all the hate and memes, who wouldn’t want to go and live in a villa for weeks for free to come out to an instant career and maybe find love in the process? Reality TV, it turns out, is always pretty far from reality for the rest of us, and Love Island is no exception. It can be really stressful, they are never allowed to leave until they are kicked off, there is no contact with your usual support network and little help to sort your life out when you leave, which is now changed beyond recognition. So, before you jump on the internet and start to fill out your application, remember it isn’t as easy as it looks.
4) You are beautiful
Something Love Island is pretty guilty of is making everyone feel terrible about themselves and their body. Even this year, despite claiming ‘body diversity’, the biggest contestant is a small UK size 10, and there is next to no ethnic diversity in there either. If watching it is making you feel bad about the way you look, the only thing to do is to take a break from it. Explain to friends or work mates who are watching it too why you have taken a little hiatus from the island and they will be sure to understand, and maybe even join you.
5) Every body is a beach body
The tans, the legs, the chiselled abs. It is important to remember that so many other things are not represented in the villa. Body hair, stretched marks, spots, freckles, big, little, tall, short and every skin type and colour makes a beach body, not just that narrow sample. If you are feeling like your self-esteem has taken a knock from it, try telling yourself 3 positive things to yourself in the mirror every morning before you get ready. It might sound stupid, but it can make your confidence leap forward.
6) ‘Pulling’ culture does not define you
Sometimes, Love Island can make it seem like pulling people is the only thing that matters, literally because that is the entire purpose of the show. It is important to remember that you are so much more than the amount of people you can ‘pull’. Especially for guys, the pressure can really be there to perform, and rack up numbers every single weekend. You are much more than that, and you have a lot more to offer the dating world than that.
7) Not all relationships are represented
One of the most obvious things missing from Love Island is any representation of LGBT+ relationships. It is really important to remember that just because this TV show does not represent them does not mean they are not valid relationships to be a part of. Love is love. The island may be super heteronormative at the moment, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the world has to be.
If you are dealing with any of these issues, from low self esteem to coming out, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here and we will listen to you.