Love Island injectables prove you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t (2024)

Love Island injectables prove you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t (4)

BeautyBeauty Feature

The women of Love Island have been subjected to ridicule for their use of filler and botox – but how useful is it to make fun of young women who have fallen victim to the plastic surgery industrial complex?

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It seems like there are only two things in this world that are guaranteed: one, that Love Island will be on our screens every summer, and two, that there will be heinous discourse about the contestants’ physical appearances each year.

The infamous dating and reality TV show has returned to our screens. But before its 11th season had even begun, commentators online ridiculed the female contestants for their appearances. When the Love Island Instagram account first dropped the highly anticipated summer 2024 contestant images, Nicole Samuel, Harriet Blackmore, Jess White and Samantha Kenny (all women between the ages of 24 to 26 years old) were inundated with comments about their filler and botox, and how it aged them, rather than made them look younger. “They look like they’re in their 50s. What is going on here?” writes one Love Island viewer on X. These remarks aren’t just from casual viewers of the show, but from plastic surgeons and doctors too.

Dr Daniel Barrett and his Beverly Hills practice went viral on TikTok this week as his staff made him guess the ages of the women listed above. In the video, he guessed the contestants were between 32 and 42. When his staff revealed their real ages to him, he laughed in embarrassment but mostly in shock, remarking, “This is crazy! Plastic surgery and injectables done incorrectly can make you look older.”

Plastic surgeon guessing the Love Island girls’ ages is BRUTAL.

— Mitten d'Amour (@MittenDAmour) June 16, 2024

Dr Barrett’s video highlights the fundamental problem with the discourse surrounding these women’s appearances. Rather than criticising our culture for making young women believe that they need plastic surgery to fit into today’s unattainable beauty standards, those commenting are more concerned with the fact these women’s procedures are detectable and ‘failed’ to make them look youthful. Dr Barrett’s comments suggest that the problem lies with these women having had bad surgeons and not with the predatory nature of the cosmetic industry, which makes 20-somethings believe that they need to get injectables in the first place. Instead, he encourages women to find a better plastic surgeon (i.e. him).

The last thing we should do is mock these women. While popular liberal feminist rhetoric suggests that plastic surgery is simply a woman’s choice, we live in a society where those deemed physically attractive are treated better than others. They are also more likely to get jobs because they are seen as likeable and trustworthy. For so many women (and those of all genders), plastic surgery doesn’t feel like a choice, and it especially doesn’t feel like a choice for those going on dating shows like Love Island.

In her video essay, ‘Love Island: A Flirtation With Surveillance’, film critic and podcaster Maia Wyman, best known on the internet as Broey Deschanel, argues that year after year, the contestants on Love Island have become increasingly sanitised and self-disciplined. “Since the powers that punish and reward contestants are invisible and omnipresent, contestants are hyper-aware of themselves being watched from all angles – the producers, the public and their families. They can no longer deliver the authentic entertainment required of truly exciting reality.” Their self-discipline levels extend beyond how they behave on camera to how they discipline their bodies before they enter the villa.

Past time to ban fillers in England (none of these women are close to 30)

— daisy buchanan (@whatgreenlight) June 11, 2024

Kenny, who was just dumped from the villa, told HELLO! Magazine that her pre-villa beauty regime included keeping fit with exercise, skincare and Botox: “I had my Botox done, and I’ve had a facial, switched up my skincare, but that’s it really. I get my lips done, but these haven’t been touched since Christmas. So other than that, I haven’t really done much,” she explained. Tiffany Leighton, another 2024 Love Island contestant who is being trolled for the size of her veneers, lost three stone before entering the Love Island Villa, with the Daily Mail describing it as a “jaw-dropping transformation”.

In her book Trophy Lives: On the Celebrity as an Art Object, Philippa Snow asserts that there is something “self-abnegating about the desire to be a very famous person”, as it requires “a saint-like level of devotion to personal transformation, sometimes extending to self-mutilation and self-sacrifice”. The actions of celebrities mirror the actions taken by the women of Love Island. In their pursuit of fame and love, not just from their male counterparts but from the 2.2 million people who view the show regularly, they turn themselves inside out — mutilating their bodies through plastic surgery and denying themselves food in order to have the ‘right’ body for the show.

These actions are dangerous, as beauty critic Jessica DeFino explained to Dazed in an interview from earlier this year: “All of these procedures, botox and fillers, come with a long list of potential complications and health issues. Some of which can become chronic and long-term. I mean, people literally die of plastic surgery. I never want to fearmonger, but beauty standards hurt almost everybody psychologically.”

Honest question guys… I’m supposed to believe they are in their 20s? #LoveIsland

— Scottie (@ScottieBeam) June 11, 2024

While it may seem harmless to make fun of these women for their plastic surgeries, the situation as a whole isn’t a laughing matter. The fact that women in their early twenties are getting cosmetic surgery at all should give us pause. While many commentators suggested that these women just needed to get more “natural” and “undetectable procedures”, that is not an appropriate answer or solution to the problem. It should also be noted that these types of comments are often drenched in a kind of classism, insulting working-class women for not being able to keep up with developing beauty trends.

Nathalie Olah writes about this in her incisive book Bad Taste: Or the Politics Of Ugliness, explaining that “every aspect of our material lives is judged according to how far it conforms to the aesthetic preferences of those in power”. Currently, what is ‘in’ within the upper classes is “pretty”, “more natural-looking”, and in many cases “virtually undetectable” plastic surgeries, celebrity facialist Shani Darden told Elle. Even though more apparent plastic surgeries like fuller lips and bigger bums were the aesthetic preference of the upper classes in the 2010s, that beauty ideal has shifted. Still, only those with disposable income can keep up with how quickly these trends and standards change.

We should not encourage the women of Love Island, or any woman for that matter, to move from one beauty trend to the next. It is an endless and vicious cycle that hurts us rather than helps us. Instead of encouraging people to get “better” plastic surgery, a suggestion that only puts more money into the beauty industry, we should be rebelling against the industry, which incentivises us to hurt ourselves physically, mentally and financially.

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Love Island injectables prove you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t (2024)
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