I’ve got a text! And a reinforced, unrealistic concept of body image! Isn’t Love Island great?
Last night marked the return of everything we love to hate. In 1969 humanity sent Neil Armstrong and a bunch of his pals the moon. In 2019 we sent some social media influencers to Majorca. And who said society was dumbing down?
All you need to know about the show is there are 12 single hotties, one massive villa and eight weeks to couple up and win the 50k cash prize. Simple.
But it doesn’t take much investigating into the show to uncover a bit of an issue…
Jesus Christ, all the lads look the same. No, but seriously they do. Given this show is supposed to represent a broad cross section of the UK public, and is therefore moulding what our perceptions of ‘good-looking’ is, I can therefore conclude that being a good-looking man in 2019 entails:
- Having a six-pack
- Big biceps
- A waxed chest
I have none of these. And barring my mate Matt, who loves the gym, neither do any of my mates. Either I have got one of the worst looking groups of mates in history – and let’s not rule that out – or maybe Love Island isn’t entirely representative.
And maybe putting this incredibly niche body type onto our screens every night and hailing it the ideal body is not healthy either?
In fact, according to research by the Mental Health Foundation, nearly a quarter of 18-24 year olds have said reality TV shows – like Love Island – have caused them to worry about body image.
It’s really not surprising. Looking at all the male contestants going into the villa this year, not a single one physically represents me.
While I am proud of the way I look now, it hasn’t always been this way. I have had first-hand experience of body confidence issues, which were made worse by the lack of representation I saw on my TV screen.
I have had those awful moments in changing rooms where you don’t feel quite good enough – where you look in the mirror and compare yourself to what society perceives as the ideal body.
I was fortunate – I had amazing people around me who gave me the confidence to speak out about body image. But not everyone is as lucky as me, which is why it would be so much simpler to have people who represent all male bodies on our screens.
Where’s the slightly chubby, bearded one from Preston who likes a doner kebab and a red wine on a Friday night? He certainly didn’t get a text. He’s not in Spain. He’s still in Zulfi’s kebab shop because they got his order wrong.
I know that body may not have the same appeal in HD as the toned men we’re used to seeing but it’s bloody important it is shown – because not everyone has a six-pack and conforms to conventional notions of beauty.
And the thing is, these unrepresented bodies are still good looking. Trust me, a belly and beard can be swag.
It’s unfair to put this problem solely at the feet of Love Island, because it is about so much more than reality TV. Male body image is a topic never touched on. Blokes barely talk about their feelings, never mind not feeling comfortable in their own skin.
With suicide claiming the lives of so many men, we need to talk more, period. And talking about body image is just one piece in that puzzle.
Women are so much more switched on this in this department. They know photoshopping exists, there are women shouting from the rooftops that you don’t have to be size 0 to be hot.
This is a widely held conversation – thank Christ – and because of this the media has started to change the way it represents women. It’s not perfect but it is getting better.
However, I just don’t think men are having the same conversation so it’s going under the radar.
So, let me put this out there as a 25-year-old man.
You do not have to be six foot, with a six-pack and waxed chest to be good-looking. That’s absolute balls. Look at Leonardo DiCaprio – he is killing that dad bod look.
Male 20-somethings across the UK are being confronted with an image of masculinity that is completely unachievable to the average person and, in some cases, not healthy or safe.
And unless the media starts to represent men in a variety of different ways, this perception is never going to change. Not just on Love Island, but across media as a whole.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. We have a choice. We can start to talk about how we feel about our bodies and how masculinity is defined.
It starts in pubs and the stands of football matches. We can accept that we’re not always perfect, HD-ready or toned. We can redefine what good looking is and screw what is held up to us as aspirational.
I’ve got a text… the Uber Eats is here.
Tom Green presents KISS FM Breakfast Show.
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