Everything We Have Learnt From This Year's Love Island

So, after 8 long weeks of sun, sex and drama, this years Love Island is coming to an end. And while our new found faves (or those we love to hate) will go on to find greatness through collabing with Misguided, appearing in clubs up and down the country and inevitably resorting to selling tooth-whitening products, it’s time for those of us with a Love Island shaped hole in our heart to sit back and reflect on quite what we got out of those 60+ hours we spent glued to the TV this sun-drenched summer.

While Love Island may be criticised for being mind-numbing, and the audience for being vain and stupid, Love Island represents a fun form of hedonistic escapism that allows us, for an hour a day, to drift away from the mundanity and the routine of the summer holidays. It may be hypersexualised, overdramatic, and edited in a manipulative and unrealistic way, but Love Island undoubtedly reflects the state of British millennials today and the society that they live in, albeit a limited extremely attractive and ridiculously toned cross-section of it.

And while we may not have 8-pack abs or be desperate enough to forego our dignity for the sake of a couple of hundred thousand Instagram followers, every person watching has been an unlucky-in-love Samira at some point. We have all dated, or known someone that’s dated, an asshole womaniser like Adam, had a best friend like Dani, been envious of a girl that everyone fancies like Megan even though you can’t figure out what they see in her, or been rubbed up the wrong way by a girl like Georgia.

Above all, Love Island stimulates debate and discussion on a number of important societal issues and uncovers, at times, some unsettling truths. Here are the top 7 things we’ve learnt in this year’s Love Island.

1)    The definition and signs of ‘gaslighting’.

When the UK charity Women’s Aid condemned Adam’s treatment of Rosie as ‘gaslighting’, a whole new generation of young men and women were educated about the warning signs of this form of emotional abuse, defined as when one’s partner questions your memory of events, tries to blame you for their actions, or trivialises your thoughts or feelings. This could potentially protect and empower hundreds of women trapped in abusive relationships.

2)    Racial prejudice is still very much a thing in modern Britain.

As the only black woman in the villa, Samira may have ticked the ‘diversity’ box but was still the most consistently unlucky-in-love contestant. When she finally found someone that she liked and who liked her back, their entire relationship was edited out of the series including their defining night in the Hideaway. Meanwhile, Josh and Wes got plenty of attention from both the producers and the girls, who continually described mixed-race guys, who embody the exoticness and masculinity of blackness with enough whiteness to be deemed familiar, as ‘their type on paper’. Double standards? Institutionalised racism? Coincidence? There’s no right or wrong answer, but Love Island has opened a can of previously unopened worms for young people on the role that race plays in Britain today.

3)    The definition of loyalty, and no, it’s not quite what Georgia thinks.

If you say that you’re something enough times, then it must be true, right? If you kiss your friends man but told her you wanted to go on a date with him, you’re loyal, right? Your man isn’t loyal if he finds a new girl, but you can still be loyal and date other people, right? Right? RIGHT? #loyalnotloyal

4)    As a society, we still have an obsession with looks.

‘I love a natural-looking girl.’ ‘Personality is so much more important to me than looks.’ ‘My type is based on how I click with a person’. If this is true, then why did EVERY SINGLE BOY IN THE VILLA fancy Megan, who is so pumped full of silicone that she might pop if you came near her with a sharp object but has the emotional range of a teaspoon? And then why, when it was revealed what Megan looked like before her surgery, did the public ridicule her so much for being ugly? Love Island projects one type of female beauty as the societal ideal – the toned, blonde and botoxed – and inevitably makes those of us who are sat in our pyjamas, bloated after one too many cookies and skipping the gym for the fifth time this week, feel fat and ugly. It may sound depressing, but the second we learn to stop comparing ourselves to the bodies we see on Love Island and lose our obsession with the way we look, we’re a step closer to increasing self-love and self-worth amongst a generation of self-hating young women.

5)    Brexit isn’t about not having any trees.

Hayley Hughes was mocked when she admitted to not knowing what Brexit is, thinking it’s something to do with not having any trees. Yes, we may laugh, but Hayley has gone on to appear on This Week to discuss the youth’s perception of Brexit and will take a trip to the European Parliament with Nigel Farage to, uh, enlighten herself. Desperate PR stunt it may be, but if this whole debacle teaches even one previously clueless young person what Brexit is then it can only be a good thing. Hayley Hughes for Brexit Secretary anyone? David Raab might not be shaking in his boots quite yet.

6)    You can’t believe everything you watch and read.

Love Island has been criticised for being edited, fake and manipulative; Frankie and Samira’s entire relationship was edited out, leading us to believe that they didn’t really like each other, whilst Georgia and Jack’s infamous kiss was reportedly filmed twice. The lesson? Don’t trust everything you watch. Not everything you read is true. Scrutinise, question and analyse.

7)    You can be a Love Island fan and be a feminist.

Love Island, a programme where women strut around in bikinis and belittle themselves in the quest to find a man, doesn’t seem to go hand in hand with feminism ideals of equality. The show not only demonstrates to us just how much we need feminism right now and brings the debate into the mainstream (see lessons 1-5 as a prime example of this), but also encourages us to be free-thinking, accepting, and more confident about ourselves. Also, I’m sure that females everywhere rejoiced when Megan said those famous lines… GIRLS CAN LIKE SEX AND NOT BE A SLUT. #preachitsista.

Love it or hate it, Love Island has become a social phenomenon, disguised under the premise of fit people ‘getting to know’ each other for money, that encourages an entire generation of young people (and older people too) to debate, discuss and ponder modern issues of love, looks and life in a way we’ve never seen before. I, for one, am already counting down the days until next year’s series. Just don’t expect me to put an application any time soon…