Zoe Strimpel

The feminist case for Love Island

Let's not look down on this year's crop of beautiful, young contestants

Love Island (Credit: ITV)

Love Island, which started again last night, flirts with virtue just a little more obviously each year. The show is racially diverse, and overwhelmingly working class, despite featuring the odd medic. Hugo Hammond, who was born with a club foot, became the show’s first disabled contestant last year. The latest series features a deaf contestant, Tasha Ghouri, a ‘dancer’ with a perfect body. If the show looks more representative, don’t be deceived: there’s nothing virtuous about Love Island. But that doesn’t mean we should hold this against its beautiful, young contestants.

Despite the name, Love Island isn’t about love. It’s about money, and specifically, about how to monetise your body. This is why the ‘body diversity’ we see only goes so far; Love Island never includes people who fall outside the market parameters of the saleable physique. 

The larger women have flat bellies and enormous bums and boobs; they qualify as curvy, somewhere on the Kardashian spectrum, and bankable on Instagram. For most of them, feeling sensitive about not being naturally skinny will be part of their ‘story’. But any struggles with body confidence appear to have been stamped on pretty firmly by the time they agree to tumble down slides into pools of ultra-thick jello, in bikinis, for an audience of millions.

As the new flock of Love Islanders limber up their hot bodies, they will all be chuckling on their way to the bank

Naturally, it is tempting to grumble and head-shake about the sheer physical transactionalism of Love Island and the world – a huge online edifice of influencers, promotions, sales, hustle – it represents. This temptation is particularly strong right now, amidst a season of vigorous head shaking about all the ways that modern, boob-baring sexual culture harms women.

For the new breed of ‘traditional’ feminists like Louise Perry, author of the recent polemic The Case Against the Sexual Revolution, Love Island is unlikely to make essential viewing. Perry’s

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