I refuse to be ashamed of my adoration and fascination with Love Island.
Call it what you want. Trash TV. A personification of the toxicity of Instagram. Hot people doing nothing for 8 weeks. Perhaps it is all of the above…
…But, at it’s best, Love Island is a representation of the relationship dynamics that most of us are currently facing or have experienced in our lives.
Love is universally relatable. Watching Amy, then Amber and eventually Anna have the men that they trust and openly like or even love, turn their heads for other women is predictable of our generation. (Perhaps of most generations.) Instagram, Tinder, Bumble, Porn even, work as catalogues for ‘you’re happy mate, but could you be happier.’ Endless options, possibilities and easy access to greener grass is the epitome of modern dating.
Even when you thought it was a blip, a couple of bad eggs – loyal Jordan changed his mind and made a beeline for a woman he didn’t even know. Seeing Anna confide in her friends admitting ‘I know something’s wrong’ is a feeling I know all too well. A feeling that sits in your stomach like a dull ache. It reminds you that you’re not safe, that to trust this person is a mistake, that they’ve changed their mind, just like you expected them to.
At least Anna had a voice to shout, the guts to scream. I have been more Amy in my approach to this form of rejection. One dumping in particular comes to mind. I cried. I cried so much and then I too just left, left the country with a rucksack and a one way inter-rail pass. (Not quite the same impact when I had my parents around the fire pit as I announced ‘I’m leaving’ and all they did was smile and say ‘how exciting’.)
Geography however, isn’t the problem with this kind of pain. Ensuring that there is oceans between you and the person that hurt you, isn’t a cure. Sitting at home watching Curtis snog Maura – won’t have made it any easier for Amy to heal.
Amy, selflessly going through this pain in front of an audience, created a mirror. A reflection of any moment in life where we have felt unwanted, where someone has broken up with us, even though we weren’t ready to let go. Amy, with snot dripping from her nose and tears constantly leaking from her eyes, was one of us. A representation of some of our lowest moments.
Sadly, that’s the joy in Love Island. Sure, I don’t have a six pack or a bum that could turn any number of heads. But, love is universal. Relationships, in whatever form, are experienced by many. Heart break does not discriminate, sexy people are not immune. The reality of watching someone go through feelings that we have experienced is bound to make us face our screens at 9pm religiously every night.
In Amber, I saw myself post heart break. Amber doesn’t keep her guard up for no reason. She isn’t afraid of committing to someone by choice. It’s a consequence of the way that she’s been treated and the type of men that she attracts. Frankly, she looks Michael in the eye and says: ‘You look like you’re going to ruin my life.’
We all know those men! The men with the pretty eyes enhanced by a darkness lying beneath them. We know the men that say the right things and look into our souls as they do it. These men are salesmen, as soon as Michael had his commission, he moved on to his next customer. The amount of times that I’ve bought the same product, from the same type of sales man is actually embarrassing.
‘This ones different,’ I say to myself as I wait for my phone to buzz or for my window to be hit by a stone. (You know, just in case they’re standing outside with a boom box or a field of roses.) ‘He said he thinks I’m amazing’ I ponder as I twiddle my thumbs and fight the urge to text him, call him, ask for a refund because this wasn’t the product I wanted! This love is broken. This lust is faulty. This product has left me feeling empty, undesirable and very very silly.
Amber had to feel this in front of the British public. She had to feel silly , empty and undesirable on the telly. I sit in my pyjamas and eat ice cream when this happens to me. I ring my mum and my best friend every 5 minutes. I do not wear a bikini in front of the man that just made me feel all of the above.
The girls on this years Love Island have been a symbol of hope and strength. They have stood up for themselves and most of the time each other. (Let’s ignore Maura bypassing Amy without so much as a ‘tank you’ in order to sit on Curtis’ face.) Maura gets away with this slip in girl code due to her force against any toxic masculinity that came her way. ‘How dare you’ she’s a complicated feminist one that will hold your hoops whilst you fight for your life but also snog your ex boyfriend because she knows what she wants and how to get it.
As a whole, the girls have stood up against any bullshit given to them by their male counterparts. They’ve accepted when they needed to sit and cry but they’ve also refused to go back to the men that hurt them. (Amy tried a little, well a lot but let’s not dwell on that either, she got there in the end!)
I’m glad that the Curtis’, Michael’s and Jordan’s were on this season of Love Island. I’m glad that young girls can see how important it is to know your own worth. In knowing your worth you disallow any sort of gaslighting, a man is unable to use you, abuse you, because you’ve set your standards high. I’m glad that these boys made bad decisions. I’m glad that Michael handled the situation so badly, because all we saw was how well Amber handled herself. How when he came crawling back, she laughed and poured her energy into a gorgeous Irish boy. An Irish boy who seems to respect the reasons that her walls are so high, and the security surrounding her heart is 24 hours.
I’m also glad that we saw this contrast. That we saw Greg’s patience, perseverance and self-confidence. I’m over the moon that Tommy Fury says everything that comes into his head and has no concept of keeping his cards close to his chest. Molly-Mae cried every time he declared his love because it’s a shock! That kind of genuine out pouring is rarely copious after 4 weeks – often it isn’t copious after 4 years. I’m ecstatic about Ovie’s mere existence. Not only because I dream of doing inappropriate things with him. Which I do, regularly. But, because he looked Michael in the eye and said ‘But, are you honestly telling me you would treat your mum or your sister like that?’
I often repeat that to myself when someone is treating me badly. The bottom line is we all came from the body of a woman. No matter your gender, respect lies in that. It’s not about being a chivalrous man. It’s just as much about backing Belle when she goes road man on Anton, or telling Amy that she’s beautiful and he’s not worthy.
Amber’s victory has confirmed to me that this years Love Island was as feminist as it has ever been. That we are coming into a period of time where women can stand up for themselves, make informed decisions and be on a level playing field with the boys.
Crack on ladies, crack on. x