‘Love Island’ is known for many things, but body diversity isn’t one of them.
And, while some are saying this year’s season has the first “curvy” female contestant, others aren’t so sure.
In all the hit ITV show’s previous four seasons, there has not been one plus size female contestant, with very slim women dominating the line-up.
Last year, viewers took to Twitter to complain about the potentially damaging implications on the audience’s body image.
One of this year’s contestants, Anna Vakili, 28, is purported to be the programme’s answer to these complaints.
A pharmacist from London, Vakili describes herself as “different to anyone who has been on the show before”.
In pictures released ahead of the show airing, Vakili has a noticeably more curvy frame compared to her fellow contestants, and, for some, she represents a change of heart from the ‘Love Island’ producers.
“You are an idol and someone curvier girls can look up to,” one person wrote beneath a picture shared on Vakili’s Instagram account, while another added, “Glad to see someone curvy gals”.
However, others aren’t buying the idea that Vakili is the answer to the show’s body diversity problem.
“So apparently this is the plus size model??? Wouldn’t call her plus size at a stretch,” was one comment on Vakili’s post.
Actress and activist Jameela Jamil queried whether the producers were drunk:
The producers of Love Island think this slim woman counts as their new token “plus size” contestant? Are they drunk? pic.twitter.com/sam4AqzzQw— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@jameelajamil) May 28, 2019
The debate continued on Twitter, with people calling it “sad” that no women on the show are actually plus size, which is usually understood in the UK as clothing size 16 and above.
Incidentally, size 16 is also the average clothing size for a UK woman.
While it is not known what size Vakili wears, some are claiming she is only a size 12.
i don’t even watch love island but they were meant to be bringing more diversity and plus size to the show and the only “plus size” is a size 12, wtf since when is 12 a plus size?????— Claudia🌻 (@clxudiaaaaaaa) May 28, 2019
sad that love island just fills a quota every year - see the same types of people replacing the old cast every year - where is the diversity please and different cool people— hagrid (@rosiecunnew) May 28, 2019
Former ‘Love Island’ contestant Alexandra Cane also tweeted to draw attention to the lack of “curvy girls”.
In response to Yahoo UK’s request for comment, a ‘Love Island’ representative responded: “Just to make it clear, we have never referred to Anna as a plus size contestant.”
However, Sezer was nowhere to be seen in the show’s line-up, suggesting either that she will no longer feature or she may join the ‘Love Island’ villa at a later date during the show.
It’s not just Vakili’s curvier frame that sets her apart. She’s also among one of the oldest contestants, and is the second oldest female contestant, in the show’s history.
For context, the all-time oldest female Love Island contestant was Laura Anderson (Series 4) who was on the show at the grand old age of 29.
As for the oldest Islanders, that title is held jointly by Jordan Ring (Series 1), Marcel Somerville (Series 3) and Paul Knops (Series 4), who were all 31 at time of filming.
Together with Vakili’s more mature (ahem) age and curvier frame, she is also one of the best educated of the bunch.
READ MORE: Lingerie model slams ‘body type’ obsession
While Love Island’s female contestants have historically included countless models, dancers and beauty technicians, Vakili is a pharmacist – a profession which typically requires some eight years of studying including a Masters degree.
“I have the whole glam look,” Vakili said in a press release. “I’m fun but at the same time I feel like I have more to me than that. I studied hard and I’ve got my masters. I’m a pharmacist and I have a Middle Eastern background.”
Body diversity continues to be a growing issue in the fashion industry. Earlier this year, a size 12 singer complained no one would dress her for the Grammys because she is “too big”.