Updated: Jun 8
There’s wide concern about the impact programs like love island are having on us.
There is particular concern for the to whom these programs are targeted.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, 24% of people between 18 and 24 said reality TV shows like Love Island make them worry about their body image.
It went on to say that 15% said they had self harmed over concerns about their body image and 23% have experienced suicidal thoughts. That’s aside from the heightened concerns for the well-being and mental health of the people actually on the programs.
Dr Antonis Kousoulis, of the Mental Health Foundation, said:
"Millions of people enjoy Love Island for a whole range of reasons.
"Our concern is how the programme projects body images that are not diverse, largely unrealistic and presented as aspirational.
"Our research clearly shows that a large number of young people say reality TV has a negative impact on how they feel about their own bodies.
"Concern about body image is linked to anxiety, depression and feelings of shame and disgust."
YouGov undertook the survey on behalf of the Mental Health Foundation and discovered that millions of adults in the UK are struggling with concerns about their body image.
For some people this struggle is potentially a serious problem because large numbers of the people on the survey said they had self-harmed or had suicidal thoughts and feelings.
It’s women, and particularly young women, who are showing the highest rates of distress; the feelings of disgust and shame make them reflect negatively about their bodies and then changed their behaviour to avoid situations which would make them feel worse.
I'm Over 50 And It Still Affects Me
Our body image issues can affect us all and at any stage of life.
I’m over 50 and still have body image issues. I was anorexic as a teenager and I still have to resist the urge to control my eating even though I haven’t relapsed in decades!
And Men Too!
But men are also feeling the pressure with an increasing proportion feeling anxious or depressed about their bodies.
It’s images on social media that seem to have the biggest impact and cause us to worry about our bodies. Something needs to be done protect the public from the presentation of unhealthy body images especially in advertising and social media, which is known as ‘social harm’ and has been allowed to unfold largely unchecked.
How Can We Help Ourselves And Not Let “Love Island” Kill Our Body Image?
It’s hard to pull away from something like “Love Island” where the media spotlight is firmly planted on the dreamy dynamics of the contestants……remember when Dani Dyer found (temporary) love in the arms of Jack Fincham?
And we all know what it feels like when we compare our normal and average bodies to the hunks and babes with buff physiques and a white smile. It makes us feel horrible yet we still do it.
We don’t take into account that under the bulging muscles, show off Instagram accounts and unnaturally white teeth lay young people subjected to the same stresses and strains as the rest of us.
What we see is the result of what’s been ‘fed’ to the contestants to say and a TV result that’s been manipulated by the producers.
So, here’s 2 ways to deal with a negative body image:
1. Separate feeling bad about you from feeling over or underweight
When you have body-image or weight issues, it can be hard to separate out feelings of how you feel about your body and feelings about how you feel about your whole self.
It’s easy to have a fight with your partner, for example, and then feel bad (or watch “Love Island” and compare their bodies with yours)….and then also feel "fat" or unattractive.
Once you’ve noticed you’ve started to feel this way, ask yourself what’s triggered this feeling. Try to identify the real cause of the bad feeling and separate it from your body-image issues.
Or, when you eat a meal then feel fat afterwards. In this instance, it’s important to recognize that the bad feelings are body-image related.
When this happens, prompt yourself to remember that your weight and appearance were the same before this feeling bad. Though you may feel different, your weight hasn't changed.
2. Practice self acceptance
Having a negative body-image is like having a nasty critic in your head. The voice is harsh and derogatory making nasty comments about you.
"I can't believe how fat I am" or "I look disgusting in this outfit" makes you feel awful, because you believe it. That’s because you feel terrible about yourself anyway. When this happens you may look for ways to feel better.
You might eat something which gives you a food buzz, something high in fat or sugar to numb out the bad feelings. But this does not help you to out run the critic. Next thing you know the critic is on your case telling you how much of a pig you are.
The key is to learn self acceptance and quieten that critical part of you. It’s not easy and it won’t happen quickly but it really is the best way to change your body image.
Here's an audio to increase your self-esteem: