On Why It Was Heartbreakingly Important To Hear About Love Island's Gabby's Insecurities
The Debrief: Because they're actually a whole lot similar to our own.
Let’s not beat around the bush. The whole premise of Love Island is very in your face. As soon as you turn over to ITV 2, you’re bombarded with boobs, bums and a whole lot of bare body. It’s a bunch of beautiful people trying to win the affection other beautiful people in what is pretty much the televised manifestation of some of my deepest insecurities.
Whether you’re a fan or not, the nightly uproar over in the Twittersphere at the end of each episode is enough to tell you that it’s captured the attention (and hearts) of the country to an overwhelming extent. Of course, there’s so much to consider around what the show says about our attitudes to sex, dating and relationships these days, it’s representation of women, and quite simply what society now expects from a reality TV show. But the risk that comes with creating a programme where we follow the lives of a few slim, toned and tanned young women who tick many of the boxes that society tells us we need to tick to be considered attractive, as they spend their days hoping and praying to be chosen over one of the other pretty girls, is creating a huge disconnect between the women on screen and the women watching. That, and the reinforcement of unattainable societal pressures to look a certain way only to have your appearance validated by men. But you know. NBD...
In the episode that aired on Wednesday 5th July Gabby Allen got really upset. Gabby, who is coupled up with mega babe and Blazin’ Squad alumni Marcel, admitted to feeling ‘inferior’ to the other girls describing herself as ‘the ugliest in here’. I know. You’re first thought is probably something along the lines of: ‘Don't be ridiculous, you’re gorgeous’. But we’d be lying if we said we’d never felt the same way.
It seems to have been triggered by the arrival of two new guys who, before officially entering the villa, had to each chose the girls that they’d like to go on a ‘date’ with. And when we say date we mean a quick glass of red wine on the terrace of an unknown venue down the road. The new guys – Theo and Jamie – chose Camilla, Tyla, Olivia and Amber to spend some time with, and in a repeat of what seems to have happened whenever a new guy has joined the villa previously, Gabby wasn’t chosen.
Speaking to the camera in the beach hut she said: ‘I’m very happy with Marce but sometimes it would be nice to have a little bit of a boost from someone, I just feel like I’m the ugliest person in here. I know it’s stupid, I shouldn’t think like that’.
It’s a difficult one because yes, it does look a bit off for one of the girls who, like everyone else, opted into a show that involves a lot of primping, peacocking and parading around in swimwear. Gabby also happens to be the girl who then found herself in one of the most legit, heart-meltingly adorable relationships on the show. So, to then be unhappy because she hasn’t been asked out on a date by someone else, can seem a little bit shady. But, people can be too quick to forget that it’s never ever that simple. She’s spent the series watching the other girls be chosen over and over again and that can be alienating. Feeling left out makes you start to question things. It makes you start to question yourself. And, in the intense image focused environment that she’s living, can we really blame here for feeling a bit shit for a moment? Because, I don’t know about you, but I feel pretty shit about my body, my hair, my face, my love life and so on, for *at least* a minute or ten whenever I tune in to watch women who don’t look like me get referred to as ‘wifey material’.
Gabby’s confidence has been knocked. That’s not a crime. It’s just really fucking human. ‘‘It’s not that I want anyone to try and come between us because it would never happen, it’s just for my own selfish insecurities… I’m sorry’, she told Marcel. Obviously Marvellous Marcel handled the borderline insult to his romantic attention really well (but let’s not forget the upset that was caused when he snogged that other girl in a game when the girls and boys all got split up. Yes, I know. I’m in too deep). Marcel pulled a Mark Darcy and told Gabby: ‘I love you just the way you are’.
‘Honestly, you are amazing, forget everyone else in this villa, it doesn’t matter what they look like if they’re taller than you, if they’ve got bigger boobs than you. They haven’t got better abs than you have they? Or a better bum. Or better eyes because your eyes are beautiful’, he continued before proclaiming that he’d tell her she’s beautiful every day for the rest of her life. Swoon.
You see, in their heart to heart, Gabby also told Marcel that when she leaves the villa she feels like she needs to get a boob job and wear hair extensions. It's upsetting and frustrating and admittedly difficult to swallow because I'm sure loads of young women feel the similar things when they see how great she looks, and how happy she is (kind of) in her relationship with Marcel. But the crux of it is that she feels the same way as we do when we scroll through Instagram, comparing ourselves to other people and giving in to that weird subconscious need to change things about ourselves to try and get a piece of their apparent double tap-worthy happiness for ourselves.
There a huge amount of pressure to look and be a certain way in order to win the male attention we're taught to be always on the look out for. And that pressure exists among the women in the Love Island villa in the same way as it does on our social media feeds, in the media and in real actual life. So let's not be too quick to judge Gabby for outwardly feeling the effects of the same bullshit that upsets us too.
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