The nations obsessive, compulsive Love Island disorder has lead to a piqued interest in certain aesthetic procedures. Eight-weeks watching those love-hungry, honed, toned bodies in arse baring bikinis has taken affect.
We’ve all taken stock of our alabaster skin, our less than buoyant lips, our ‘British’ teeth “I’ve seen the greatest minds of my generation consider veneers,” said Raven Smith in his weekly Vogue column, during the Love Island pandemic.
Love Island contestant, Megan Barton Hanson, who made all of the male contestants weak at the knees has spent an estimated £30,000 achieving her curvaceous sex-doll aesthetic (do see Megan’s ‘before’ shots if you haven’t already). The message? If you want the (Love Island) boys, Barbie-boobies and a cushiony pout are a great place to start.
Sex sells and looking good is big (expensive) business. According to GlobalData the beauty industry in the UK alone is set to reach £26.7bn by 2022 and despite the prolonged gloom on the UK high street, waning consumer confidence, and restricted budgets, the beauty sector has far from lost its appeal.
During Love Island, Sam Larkin, founder of Nuyu, a skin, aesthetics and hair clinic in Primrose Hill has seen a surge in the requests for ‘smile makeovers’, “There’s been a surge in requests for teeth straightening, whitening and lip-filling,” says Sam, “Our clients are mostly in their 30s and (despite Love Island) they’re after a natural, understated look that’s fresh and subtle.”
Sam and her team of doctors and industry experts have had requests from clients as young as 19 “As a business, we choose not to work with such young clients. All of the clients we do treat have a full consultation with the best-suited specialist for their requirement before any treatment is carried out.”
“I’ve seen the greatest minds of
my generation consider veneers,”
– Raven Smith, Vogue
As the nation (and Margot Robbie) were transfixed by those dazzling rows of veneers and action man abs, criticism flooded in. What message is all of this frolicking flesh teaching the kids? Good Morning Britain’s Piers Morgan accused the show of setting unrealistic beauty standards, while BBC Breakfast pulled-up Love Island producers on airing cosmetic surgery adverts during the show and therefore exploiting the viewers’ insecurities.
Natalie Browning, Assistant Head Teacher at a primary school in London says, “Children of primary school age are definitely watching Love Island and it, of course, affects them in many ways. It creates a false sense of what a ‘celebrity’ is. When I’ve asked children what they want to be when they are older I have heard the response ‘I want to be famous’ but when asked to expand on this they can rarely explain what they will be famous for.
The show makes ‘appearance’ paramount. It teaches children that if they don’t like the way they look they can change it, as long as they can pay for it. In terms of body image, it displays ‘perfect’ figures as the norm.
The focus is often on looks and body shape rather than personality. You are often shown a male figure who may not have the perfect body but has a great personality and they do quite well. I have never seen this in any of the female contestants. We are essentially teaching our girls that they have to look perfect or no-one will love them (they won’t get away with just a great personality.)”
“Looking a certain way and having success have often been synonymous.”
– Nadia Mendoza, Self Esteem Team
The Self Esteem Team, an organisation set up in 2013 by Nadia Mendoza and Grace Barrett travel to schools in the UK to discuss healthy body image, anxiety mental health and the expectations of every day.
“Young people are usually a lot savvier than the adults around them. For us, it’s about getting onto their wavelength and listening to what they have to say. While we always encourage young people to believe in their individuality, messages like ‘you don’t have to change who you are to be happy’ often fall on deaf ears.
Young people see that beauty CAN be bought, with celebrities often opting for very plastic looks, perma-tans and make-up as a status symbol. On the latest series of Love Island, Megan Barton Hanson is set to become the breakout star despite not winning, estimated to pocket a cool £2million following the show.
Looking a certain way and having success have often been synonymous, and now that’s amplified online. Young people don’t necessarily want to change because of insecurity but because they want success.
The conversation is shifting and it is more complex than perhaps we initially thought. Megan herself said [on Loose Women] just this week that the cosmetic procedures she has had came from a place of wanting them rather than feeling forced to, claiming it is no different to getting a tan or her hair done.
Solutions wise, for us at Self Esteem Team, it’s about highlighting the benefit of other qualities too. For example, Dani Dyer and Jack Fincham, they won the show by doing everything from the heart rather than how they looked in swimwear.
What we try to do at Self-Esteem Team is, rather than tell young people not to watch shows they are going to watch anyway, we try to open their eyes a little to the messages they are being exposed to and get them to think critically when they are faced with them,” says Mendoza.
Mendoza and Barrett have worked with tens of thousands of young people, and written a book approved by doctors, The Self-Esteem Team’s Guide to Sex, Drugs & WTFs.
Despite the panicked tone of our breakfast show hosts, of 1000 Foundry Fox women we questioned (aged 18-35), only 30.03% said they’d definitely consider cosmetic surgery.
We’ve come a long way from the plastic fantastic 80s and 90s, when the late Joan Rivers famously said, “I’ve had so much plastic surgery when I die I will donate my body to Tupperware”. Today we’re squatting for that belfie-worth behind and opting for more subtle, less invasive procedures if anything at all.