A leading headteacher has hit out at Love Island and other “image-obsessed” reality TV shows, saying they send an “unbelievably dangerous” message to young people about appearance.
Wimbledon High School head Jane Lunnon says the question needs to be asked about whether interest in such shows undermines feminist movements such as the #MeToo campaign.
Mrs Lunnon said she has concerns about young people not being able to distinguish between what is real and what is fake.
“I was particularly struck by the Love Island thing,” she told the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference’s (HMC) annual autumn conference.
“It wasn’t just the way it dominated teen consciousness, it was the way it basically dominated public discourse.
“So what has happened that makes Love Island become something real and significant?
“And the problem attached to that is, what are the long-term consequences of a world where, a) we are celebrating something essentially trivial, and b) we are focused, such relentless focus on appearance and the presentation of brand self – which we know is a spillover from social media itself.
“And Love Island’s message, it seems to me, is conform and look beautiful otherwise you are not worthy of being loved. Which is unbelievably dangerous.”
In a tweet, Wimbledon High said the headteacher “despairs of society and children ‘losing sight of what is real'”.
Speaking about movements such as #MeToo, Mrs Lunnon said: “We might have to decide which camp we are in.
“If we want to be taken seriously – the Me Too debate, hear us, we have agency, we have a voice – can we also be saying this trivial nonsense matters?”
HMC chairman Shaun Fenton said: “I think young people can make choices about their diet of media and discern triviality from real news – fake news from real news.
“But if you overdose on a bad diet, if that is all you are presented with all the time, it is not in their interests.”