Love Island 2021 review: In the unattainable bodies row, is Hugo really the villain here?

The extent of last night’s flare up was unprecedented – for the ITV2 producers, this was the #TeachableMoment they had been waiting for

Elise Bell
Wednesday 07 July 2021 12:40
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Love Island: first look shows Hugo crying during row with Faye and Sharon

This year’s batch of Islanders might just be the most conflicted in Love Island history.

Currently experiencing extreme inner conflict is Liberty, who, having fallen head over heels and back again over Jake, is now faced with the consequences of fancying a man whose moral compass is centred squarely in his scrotum. Pulling Jake aside for a chat after his less than subtle hint that he is open to having his head turned by a petite blonde with feet, Liberty did not get the answers she was hoping for. Instead, Jake said what every girl dreams of hearing: if he dumps her, he will of course do it respectfully. Thanks Jake! With no new boys in the villa, and every other boy friendzoned into oblivion, Liberty might rue the day she put all of her eggs in Jake’s basket.

Fast forward to the couples challenge and the whiff of conflict was seeping into the stones of the villa. I have long wondered what a 2021 Love Island would look like now that our Islanders are more self-aware than ever before. Whereas previous indiscretion could be brushed off with a “they didn’t know any better”, there is now simply no excuse. You’d have to live under a rock to not be aware of Love Island’s intense public scrutiny, pages and pages of tabloid magazines dissecting the rights and wrongs of every cast-member. Add to that the potential for a social media storm to erupt at any time and it’s no wonder this year’s Islanders have been labelled neurotic.

For Hugo, this realisation became all the more real as he was accused by the girls of being insensitive with his remarks, labelling “fakeness” an unattractive trait and instant turn off. I have no doubt that the remarks were intended as silly, a little dig from Hugo to a world full of filler and botox. But Hugo forgot that almost all the women surrounding him (yes, even the “natural”-looking ones) were the beneficiaries of a helping surgical hand.

The extent of the flare up, with Sharon and Faye clearly put out by what they deemed to be insults at their own appearance, was unprecedented. For the ITV2 producers, this was the #TeachableMoment they had been waiting for. And so we watched as Hugo wept while Faye and Sharon shared their stories of body dysmorphia and insecurity as young women. They’re hugely important and valid, but there is a certain irony at play. Love Island’s entire identity is centred around the parading of “perfect bodies” - bodies that for most women are entirely unattainable without the luxury of cosmetic surgery. Yet the women on this show are simultaneously critiqued and fetishised for conforming to this image. Of course, it’s empowering (and right) that Sharon and Faye were able to tell their stories, but I couldn’t help but wonder… is Hugo really the villain here?

As the villa recovered, the next day brought with it new challenges. I can only sense doom for Rachel and Brad as new girls Lucinda and Milla strutted into the villa. Has anyone in human history ever seen a man’s tongue fall as far out of his mouth as Brad’s did the second he caught a glimpse of Lucinda’s black bikini? Will Brad be able to reorganise his face before Rachel’s return, or will this mark the dry-hump and dump we have been so fearing?

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