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Love Island gives women yet another reason to hate themselves

Samantha, Ayo, Munveer, Nicole, Patsy, Ciaran, Harriet, Jess, Sean, Ronnie, Mimii and Sam on Love Island 2024
Love Island is returns to our screens tonight, and already we’ve been hit with an ageist and sexist commentary (Picture: ITV)

Since its revival in 2015, Love Island has proven to have a unique knack for sparking vicious commentary over the types of contestants it picks, how they look and what age they are.

And with the new series set to kick off tonight on ITV2, it appears things will be no different this year.

Since the lineup was revealed, viewers have wasted no time in ripping into this summer’s contestants – specifically analysing their outward appearance with breathtaking brusqueness.

‘Why do all these girls look in their 40s?’ 

‘Sounds 13 with the face of a 35-year-old.’ 

‘What is going on? 24 going on 42,’ quipped some fans.

Yet as awful as these comments are, I for one am not surprised.

Patsy Field, Love Island 2024 contestant
Patsy Field is this year’s oldest Islander so far, at a still very young 29 (Picture: Ian Hippolyte/ITV/Love Island)

In my opinion, all Love Island does is give women yet another reason to hate themselves. It’s the last thing we need and therefore makes it the last TV show I’m moved to watch.

There’s always been a pressure on Islanders to look ‘perfect’ going into the villa.

Both women and men have been known to hit the gym, diet and book in for ‘tweakments’ ahead of their TV debuts. 

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Putting aside the fact that this only feeds into the issue of setting vastly unrealistic beauty standards for all for a moment, I can’t help but feel that the show sets the women of Love Island up for failure.

Those comments I mentioned above, for example, refer exclusively to the female Islanders. And all came from other women online.

The men, to be fair, do get some grief for how frequently they appear to be ‘semi-pro’ football players (we’ve got two this summer) but on the whole they get off rather lightly.

Patsy Field, Mimii Ngulube, Harriet Blackmore, and Nicole Samuel on Love Island 2024
This year’s ladies have already been subjected to a brutal commentary from the show’s fans on social media (Picture: ITV/Shutterstock)

And while the internet may not be known for being a warm, supportive, and uplifting environment at the best of times, it does seem to get particularly vicious at this time of year. Especially when any of the female Islanders talk about (or are exposed for) having had Botox, filler or their lips done.

Let’s be clear, when some opt to permanently or dramatically adjust their outward appearance – especially ahead of such anticipated intense scrutiny as this show brings –  it is their right to do so, without judgement.

Yet comments like: ‘That’s a rough 26…’ and ‘Why are they all elderly?’ still arise.

It’s judgemental to say the least – even dangerous – when you consider the age range for the female Islanders announced so far is 24 to 29.

Even those remarks that claim not to want to sting fall short.

One viewer recently wrote: ‘Not being ageist, but how is she 24? Says someone not in their 20s.’

Samantha Kenny, Love Island 2024 contestant
The people that seem to have the biggest problem with how the female Love Island contestants look is… other women (Picture: Ian Hippolyte/ITV/Love Island)

Whichever way you look at that statement though, it is ageist. And also sexist.

As someone who firmly ‘aged out’ of appearing on the show a few years ago – not that it was ever an ambition – this obsession with age is one of the reasons I’ve struggled to get on board with Love Island ever since.

Society is already obsessed with telling women they must buy certain products or dress a certain way to hold back the oncoming tide of ageing, like nothing could be worse. So we really don’t need a TV show adding to the noise.

Yet, deliberately or not, Love Island seems to suggest that once you near 30 as a woman, you’re put out to pasture, too old to feature on the show – or even find love, apparently.

Not that marriage is the only marker of success in relationships by any stretch, but clearly someone hasn’t clocked that the average age for women to get married in the UK is actually 33.

Let’s also not forget the jaw-dropping reaction to bombshell Charlotte Sumner last year, a 30-year-old dental nurse from Brighton.

Charlotte Sumner enters the villa as a bombshell on Love Island in 2023
Bombshell Charlotte Sumner received an astounding response to being 30 from the boys in the villa (Picture: ITV/Shutterstock)

As she sashayed her way into the villa as the series’ oldest ever female contestant, the boys were delighted by what they saw before being stunned when she revealed her age during conversation.

‘You don’t look 30 though. You’ve got nice teeth,’ was Zachariah Noble’s befuddling response.

Meanwhile, the other boys reassured her she looked ‘amazing’ and ‘good though’ – but that ‘though’ speaks volumes.

How old someone looks is entirely subjective and my biggest question is, does it really matter?

I’m here to reassure you from the other side of 30 that I do, in fact, still have all my own teeth – as do all of my friends and acquaintances. I’m also lucky enough to be in good health, with the only notable change being that that extra drink or two on a night out can give me a sharper headache.

So I’m afraid I’ve no capacity for Love Island to try and add to it.

Love Island starts tonight at 9pm on ITV2.

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