This week in the UK saw the comments of one headteacher picked up, following her speech at a teachers’ conference.
Jane Lunnon said programmes like ‘Love Island’ send an ‘unbelievably dangerous’ message and could undermine the #METOO movement.
Here’s one perspective for Eloquently Her, from writer Heidi Phillips.
I don’t know Jane Lunnon, haven’t met her, and sure as heck never had a teacher of her calibre stand in front of me during my school days.
But you know what? I sort of wish I did have.
While I initially read the headlines about the headmistress’s comments at the annual professional conference and thought “wo there lady… what are you saying about girls making themselves more ‘at risk’ by being scantily clad…?”, I soon started digesting the words with a silent ‘three cheers for her’.
The points Ms Lunnon hits on are so valid, and it’s absolutely critical that we all start staring this issue in the face and realising where it’s pushing us.
As someone who struggled throughout my 20s and much of my 30s with an eating disorder, and became fixated on my body image as a measure of my self-worth and rightful place in this world, I’m horrified to think that we’re creating a society which increasingly perpetuates that cycle of the body beautiful, and the triviality of relationships.
This isn’t about the impact that a reality tv programme such as Love Island has on the contestants themselves – indeed, we’ll have to wait 10 years before they bring the ‘where are we now’ programme out – but more importantly, where it sits in the consciousness of all young people, teens and adults.
Are we essentially maintaining a script in society that says, guys, now it’s all about your physical appearance. Without that, your worth very little.
In addition, are we saying, that this trivial approach to life, where relationships are no more than surface deep and are physically fuelled, is the kind of world we should seek and aspire to?
When we combine this televised content, with the multiple hours which teens and adults of today now spend sucking up preened photographs of celebrities and socialites on their Instagram accounts, are we just making for an increasingly fraught world where things like depression, anxiety, self-harm and eating disorders are all the more likely?
Don’t believe for one moment I don’t understand the many and varied complexities of why someone succumbs to mental health issues such as those I’ve mentioned here – trust me, I’m living proof that they’re conceived and perpetuated for a variety of reasons – but I do think that this thirst for such ‘brand me’ content is a true recipe for disaster.
It’s like anything we do in life that we know not to be great for our brains and our bodies. Over-consume it, and God only knows what crisis we’ll hit at some stage.
For this reason, I’m hugely impressed that Ms Lunnon took to the stage and made this speech – no matter what challenging commentary she might have faced afterwards.
As women – be we mothers, teachers, business influencers, friends, god-parents or sisters – we can all play a part in ensuring that while content like this might still be available, and consumed in certain doses, we’re the ones who ensure that those being ‘fed it’ are not becoming obsessively fixated or influenced.
It’s our job to make young women grow to validate themselves and their worth for so many qualities and attributes in the world – far beyond their body shape in a bikini or whether they walk away with the perma-tanned male contestant.