So it’s that time of year again! One of the biggest shows on ITV2 is midway through its fourth season, breaking records and reeling in over 3.4 million views for the launch.
There is no denying that most of us can’t help but love the endless amounts of drama, the lingering sound of somebody shouting “I’VE GOT A TEXT” and watching every element of a romantic relationship grow, but in the back of our heads, we know that this is a reality TV show. We know to take some things with a pinch of salt. Well, we should do anyway.
What needs to be considered though, is if teenagers really view this the same. At such a vital point in their life, do they understand that not all young adults have to behave or look like the people on the show? Does the show teach the correct morals and values to have in a happy, secure relationship? Does this actually change teenagers perception on love? Basically, is love island creating a false sense of reality and an aspiration for teenagers that is just impossible for them to ever reach? Is the generation of social media and reality stars causing deeper mental health issues for the youth of today? My answer is yes. Don’t get me wrong, I think that love island is a great dramatised television programme. But the way in which it’s portrayed to be a reality show (despite the whole thing being constructed) will eventually lead to the downfall in teens mental health and wellbeing. We need to make the changes and discuss these things, before it’s too late.
A worrying aspect of this show is that only one type of body image is shown.
Firstly, let’s discuss the women. Many of the girls who are on this show have had cosmetic surgery and procedures to make them look a particular way. Instead of promoting natural looks and embracing who we are, this show promotes one type of body with no imperfections which is again unrealistic for a lot of teenagers out there. The pressure that young girls could potentially put on themselves to look like these women has to be addressed. These women have flawless skin and no cellulite/scars or any imperfections when in a bikini. All of the things that are a part of being a natural woman seem to disappear on this show. Whether this is done by video editing, or only choosing to cast women who look airbrushed, it’s not realistic and can potentially lead to body dysmorphia and other anxieties and insecurities. When a girl is going through puberty, their body is going to change. But younger girls who watch this show may not understand this and it could lead to younger depression and anxiety as none of this is discussed or shown. Most women have imperfections, so why are women like this not cast on the show?
Side note: I am fully aware that the beauty/TV/advertising industry has to promote a certain kind of look. And I know that it has been around for years. But I am commenting on the way in which it’s changing. It almost seems more sinister. More subtle and pressurised for younger people.
Now, the men. Again, they all seem to look very similar. They walk around all day with their tops off and many of them have tattoos and a certain type of frame. A lot of them have also had procedures to their teeth, and who knows what else? Men have imperfections and scars, just the same way that women do. But this isn’t shown. So a young boy watching this programme could end up obsessing over looking a particular way that might not ever be achievable for them. This leads on nicely to:
Is it normal to walk around all day in a bikini or swimming shorts? No. But does this potentially make young girls and boys feel like they have to show a lot of their body or dress in a particular way to get attention in day to day life? Absolutely. Many of these men walk into the villa and discuss how beautiful the women are. So a young girl watching this, could potentially think that you have to show everything and look that way to get approval from men. Also, the way that the men and women speak to each other and argue seems to play a big role in this series. Younger people will strive to act like these cast members. Is this really the way that we want our children to behave? Don’t get me wrong, some of the cast members are good role models. But the show as a whole, doesn’t do enough to show genuine behaviour. It’s distorted and can be brainwashing to the younger generation who believe that this is real. They could potentially believe that this is the way that you have to be when you grow up. When these cast members meet each other, they share a bed straight away as if it’s normal. When it isn’t. This leads on to:
How are young boys and girls going to view love and relationships with influences such as this show? A young girl could watch this show and think that it’s okay to share a bed with a stranger. To think that it’s the norm. A young boy can also watch this and think the same. Could both boys and girls lose their confidence and think that they aren’t worthy of a relationship like the ones they see on the television? I know that this can all sound a bit far fetched and dramatic, but when you look at the effects that it can have on younger people, it makes you wonder about the world that they are growing up in.
Is depression and anxiety going to increase in younger people as they feel like they can never achieve a relationship or lifestyle they have almost been forced to believe is true? Will it all take its toll in the end because there isn’t enough education about ‘reality’ tv and how it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s real life? I think that without these kind of discussions with younger people, it will get worse. Growing from a child to a teenager is one of the most important stages of life as it forms you into the person that you are. It needs to be spoken about more.
Are we raising a generation mentally set up to fail?