I have to be completely honest. The reason I’ve barely written anything on my blog recently is because 9-10pm is my writing golden hour. It’s when I feel most creative and relaxed, usually stuffed full of cheesy pasta and drinking a cuppa. But for the last few weeks, something far more important has been occurring during my blog-time – Love Island’s been on, ain’t it.
While the show might have been stopping me from writing amazing content, becoming an influencer, getting a book deal etc, I’m not mad at it. Truly, I feel like my life has been enriched by the goings-on in that Majorcan villa. I’ve had something to pour my energy into, something to scroll through Twitter for, something to discuss with my colleagues in intricate detail every lunchtime. It’s made me laugh, cry (usually when hungover) and really THINK about stuff.
I’m not even joking, guys. Love Island is not simply a reality TV show consisting of attractive, tanned, surgically enhanced millennials prancing around in swimwear and ‘doing bits’. It’s like 80% that. But the other 20% is HIGHLY educational. I’ve learned so much about gender politics and social interactions, and it’s helped me formulate opinions and understand myself and the world around me that little bit more. Also there are fit men, but that’s not the important bit, clearly.
So as the season draws to a close (which I’m both sad and thrilled about in equal measure), these are the main things Love Island has taught me:
Men have a tendency to call women crazy when they’re ACTUALLY RIGHT. When ‘Arsehole Adam’ started fancying government advisor Zara, Rosie (who he was seeing at the time) could tell. OBVIOUSLY. Girls can always tell. But when she raised this with him, he accused her of being crazy, and said her needyness was ‘putting him off.’ And then what happened? He ran off with Zara. Rosie wasn’t crazy – she was right. The same thing happened with Laura and Wes; she could see him getting closer to Megan and she became concerned – but somehow this was all her fault. And I don’t think this kind of subtle manipulation is unusual: Laurie calls me crazy if I get angry at him for waking me up on a work-night when he’s drunk as a skunk and I’m exhausted. I think that’s a pretty legitimate reason to be annoyed, and doesn’t make me at all insane. My dad does the same to my mum whenever she raises a grievance. And my boyfriend and my dad are actually pretty good guys, usually. But women are constantly made to feel like they are insane or hysterical when actually, they’re right. It’s a misogynistic way of belittling women, utilising long-standing stereotypes that women are overly hormonal and slightly unhinged. It was frustrating to watch Adam and Wes walk all over Rosie and Laura, yet these girls were made to feel like they were somehow to blame. But at the same time, it’s helped me learn that when a guy calls you crazy – honey, back yourself. You’re not crazy. (Unless you’re, like, wielding a knife. In which case, yes you probably are).
Secret dickheads are the worst kind of dickhead. When Dr Alex came into the villa, he seemed like a lovely guy. Poor chap, being rejected so frequently. What are these girls thinking? This man is DOCTOR! Who cares if he’s easily sun burned and slightly stuttery, you’d all be lucky to have him. I have to admit, I was guilty of thinking that too. But Dr Alex’s real colours came out for the first time when Geordie Ellie had the AUDACITY to tell him she just wasn’t that into him. He was furious, as if he was entitled to be adored (white male privilege cough cough cough). Later, when Alexandra told him she was upset by the way he was treating her, he repeatedly told her she ‘misunderstood him’ because actually he’s been really nice and decent, and did he mention he’s a doctor? There are all too many guys like this lurking around the dating scene – they seem lovely at first, but deep down they’re just as arrogant and self-entitled as the rest of them. At least obvious dickheads like Adam show their true colours early enough so you know to avoid them. Oh wait…
There are always two sides to every story. Case in point: that kiss between Georgia and new Jack. He said he accidentally kissed her on the lips when he went in for the cheek. She said he initiated it. When you watch the clip, it does look like he was going for her cheek – but that doesn’t mean her perspective is any less valid (especially because she’s loyal, babe). In reality, she probably did think that’s where he was heading. Yet, this whole did they-didn’t they argument went on for about three episodes, with each accusing the other of lying. It just shows that a lot of problems could be solved if people open up their minds, put themselves in someone else’s shoes and go, ‘you know what, the way I see things is not necessarily “truth”. It’s just the way I see them.’ Then again, the kiss was probably filmed twice, and the whole argument was orchestrated because that particular week was pretty boring. But that’s besides the point.
Society still has a problem with older women. You don’t have to scroll through the Love Island Twitter hashtag for long before coming across some kind of dig about Laura’s age. The typical punch-line is that she’s someone’s nan. She’s sweet and good-natured, yet Twitter trolls describe her as immature ‘for her age’ and get angry when the hot men pick her. THE WOMAN IS 29. SHE IS IN HER TWENTIES. And not a word is spoken about Paul being 31 (WAY too old to be in Love Island, if you ask me) except in relation to the fact he’s more of an appropriate age for Laura. Throughout history, a woman has always been seen as highest value when she’s younger, because reproductivity is female currency. The fact people are still so obsessed by her age, despite her arguably being one of the hottest women in there, shows society is clearly not past the idea that the ageing woman is a woman in decline. It’s a sad, sad world.
You can make yourself look like Margot Robbie if you have approx. £25,000 to spare. In some ways this reassuring, knowing that the face and body that ya mama gave ya doesn’t have to be the one you walk through life with. You can be whoever you want to be, hun! On the other hand, it’s a tad worrying. The fact that Megan was the most-fancied woman in the villa by a mile, when pretty much everything about her is fake (bum, boobs, lips, nose…), makes me really sad. Her public visibility sets a standard of beauty that most women will inevitably fall short of. And I don’t blame her for that – I think it’s sad in itself that she’s gone through life believing that her looks are the most important thing (cough cough patriarchy). But it worries me that my little sister’s male friends, aged 14, are growing up thinking that’s what female attractiveness looks like. And I feel sorry for the poor girls who are growing up feeling like they need lip fillers and a boob job to be fancied. I’m all for empowering, you-do-you Feminism, but surely this is the opposite?
The best love stories are friendships. When Rosie left the villa, she told the girls that while she hadn’t found love with Adam, at least she’d found love with all of them. And isn’t that a lovely message? Romantic love isn’t the be-all and end-all of love. In the villa, some of the most heart-warming moments have been those between friends. Like Jack trying to wing-man Dr Alex, even if he is a secret dickhead. And Megan telling Samira she is smart and fun and worthy of love. And old Laura comforting new Laura, despite the fact new Laura was now dating old Laura’s ex. (Bonus learning: apparently all hot twenty-somethings are called Laura, Alex, Jack, Ellie, Josh and Charlie. Who knew?) Watching the friendships in there blossom has been just as – if not more – rewarding then watching the various couples join the Do Bits Society. It’s a reminder to appreciate your friends because, generally, they’ll be the ones holding you when you cry, fighting your corner, and cheering you on when you find love or success. And I say Amen to that.