If we’ve learned anything from the last few years, it’s that representation matters.
Big issues like the representation of different skin tones, body sizes and disabilities are fought for on the reg by various strong-ass women and require real change in the minds of the powers that be.
However, calling the media out on a lack of inclusion is only one way to change things. Love Island in particular have been receiving flack for their lack of inclusion on the show, predominantly with body sizing.
Applauding small changes is another. Once these powers realise that we WANT to see ourselves and our peers represented, things will change.
Even this year, campaigns like Dove's stunning #ShowUs effort have been proving to the media industry that the public want to see every type of person in advertisements and on our screens.
From all gender binaries, sexual orientations, ethnicities, abilities and sizes to vitiligo to scarring; Why should only one type of person be represented on screen when perfection is a myth?
When flawlessness and perfection no longer sell, when ‘one size fits all’ doesn’t appeal to the masses; that’s when media organisations, beauty companies and the entertainment industry begin to change their tune.
On the topic of applauding small steps, the last two episodes of Love Island have sparked praise in one particular area: skin.
Every single human being has experienced bad skin at one point in their lives. Some of us suffered through teenage acne and have the scars to prove it. Many have had to deal with life-altering skin related issues from complex conditions to unfortunate accidents. Skin is at the centre of beauty campaigns and we are bombarded with an image of what perfectly clear skin ‘should’ look like, err single day.
The cute and bubbly new contestant on the ITV reality show, Francesca Allen, has received some appreciative feedback for choosing to allow her skin to breathe free. She has visible spots and we are SO ready for them. This was also true for Lucie when she took her makeup off each night and revealed 'normal' skin. Maura is over there representing all pale Irish beauties whose faces don't match their necks after a night out.
There should never be a strict definition of what constitutes 'normal' skin. 'Normal' to us is what we're shown the most, which is perfection.
However, in reality there are millions of skin disorders and types in the world that don't get shown on screens globally. Our skin is a vital organ, and it's unique to each person.
One Love Island viewer tweeted she was; "nearly crying at the fact Francesca has acne scarring". Another got emotional stating it was "refreshing" for someone who struggles with their skin every day "to see an amazingly beautiful girl like Francesca show off her bare face and acne to the world without shame". These are real people, lets remember. Real people who are thankful to see something familiar on the small screen.
Though each islander is stunningly beautiful in their own ways, imperfections show their humanity. Just because they're on a screen doesn't mean they aren't just like us. That the kids watching them – and yes there are kids as young as 12 waiting up for the series each night- can see that skin imperfections can be gorgeous and above all, normal.
Considering Francesca's skin is still by advertising and media standards damn near perfect, it says a lot that the response to even a few minor scars has been incredibly positive and emotional.
A teeny tiny step, y’all say, but if we don’t applaud the tiny steps; the larger ones will be further out of reach. Celebrate the minor achievements and aim higher.
Now… Crack on with some stretch marks, dermatological disorders and cellulite please, ITV. We want to feel seen.
Feature image: ITV/REX