The Dark Side of Love Island


Since its re-introduction in 2015, Love Island has become a staple on UK television. With a summer and winter season commissioned annually, the opportunity for fame is too good for aspiring influencers to pass up. Whilst Love Island is known for its carefree, mindless qualities that help people unwind from everyday stresses, the national favourite has a concerning dark side.

From the death of former host Caroline Flack and contestants such as Sophie Gradon, the darker exploitative nature of the show feels hard to shake away these days. Previous contestants have recently opened up about their struggles with mental health during the show’s filming. Knowing contestants face these issues makes it hard to watch Love Island with the same ease.

Online Harassment

Unfortunately, part of being in the public eye means you are subjected to horrific abuse online. It should not be the case, but online trolls relentlessly attack Love Island contestants. From attacks on their features to how they sound, what some deem harmless jokes can have devastating repercussions on these individuals.

Former contestant Sophie Gradon is a heartbreaking example of the culture that has formed around Love Island stars. In an interview discussing the impact of social media, she explained the “horrific” effect online abuse had on her mental health. As a result of this abuse, Sophie passed away in 2018, and the cause of her death was suicide.

The hate campaign against former host Caroline Flack showed similar levels of harassment, not just from the public but also from the media. Sadly, online harassment played a role in the death of another young woman.

Love Island will forever be tainted by these deaths, memories of what happened to Caroline and Sophie all too alive for people who watch the show. Now Love Island has a mental health team to help contestants, and activism on the topic is more active than before. Hopefully, the show can continue to usher in new changes so that one day it prevents its contestants from becoming victims of harassment.

Problematic Beauty Ideals

Love Island likes to brand itself as inclusive, including contestants of different ethnicities and recently disabled people. Yet, the same old beauty standard still prevails. It is big boobs and bum for women, yet somehow the tiniest cinched waist. For men, a chiselled face, where you must have abs! Oh, and almost always, both of them have to be white.

The show’s idea of “plus size” is a size ten woman who’s just a bit curvier than the others. Heaven forbid you even look a little bit bloated on camera! Love Island still fails to grasp that diversity means humans come in all different shapes and sizes, becoming part of a global media that prioritises a single ideal rather than the bodies we are born with.

On top of this, Love Island couples are strictly straight. Islanders such as Amber Gill have since come out as bi after the show, and you have to wonder why same-sex love is not allowed.

Moreover, Love Island has a white concept of beauty. Often on the show, women of colour, dark-skinned black girls, are not “chosen” by other male contestants, despite being as stunning and intelligent as their white counterparts. They are often the first to be dumped from the island, sending out the wrong message about who is desirable to men- this a sad aspect of the show in itself!

Love Island is not the only facet of the media guilty of this. The fashion industry, television and film all contribute to the same issue, but year after year, we are confronted with the same criteria of beauty from the ITV show.

After Love Island

Life after Love Island depends on the contestant. Some succeed with brand deals and television shows, raking in followers alongside millions of pounds. Others, however, fade into obscurity, still trying to develop a strong social media presence that cannot compare to their competition.

Love Island stars such as Rosie Williams and Tyne-Lexy Clarson revealed private clients had offered them significant amounts to go on dinner dates or spend time in their company. Whilst they both declined, some influencers turn to escorting to sustain the extravagant lifestyle they promote on Instagram. The extra money they earn from escorting work gives them the content they need to stand out from the competition, becoming more profitable than regular influencer work.

Some escort sites highlight the exclusivity of these models for their clients, branding them as celebrity escorts that are more desirable than their other categories, such as London or Essex escorts 

Whether Love Island stars accept these offers or not, they still contribute to influencer culture and that sense of wanting that leads some women to escort.


Many of these issues are not specific to Love Island and materialise in other aspects of society. However, the show still negatively contributes to the world, masquerading as entertainment but often bringing misery to individuals.

The media and the world are cruel, but they can also be ridiculous and fun aspects to both. Love Island represents this duality, but it needs to try harder to bring more positivity than darkness from its brand.