After Chloe Burrows was chosen by Hugo Hammond in *that* recoupling, Georgia Townend was dumped from the Island, making her time in the Love Island villa one of the shortest known to a woman. Despite a fleeting appearance on the show of the summer, 28-year-old marketing executive from Essex, Georgia Townend, made a lasting impression in a statement made following her departure that got us thinking about the impact Love Island can have on how we view ourselves and how we navigate the world of dating.
Georgia was quick to point out the differences between herself and the typical islander, who tends to last longer on the show and reap the rewards of this exposure later on down the line. She labels herself an “aberration” when compared to the average female islander because she is “s**te at make-up…can’t flirt to save [her] life, and apparently [has] dreadful fashion sense”. I’m sure many viewers can relate to Georgia on this level and for this reason, it is a shame that she is deemed an “aberration”. This sheds light on the unrealistic standards of beauty, which the show perpetuates. In order to be successful on the show, you have to be a model-esque flirting afficionado with an infinite supply of clothes which comply to the current trend at any given moment. Does that sound unrealistic to you? It seemingly doesn’t sit well with Georgia Townend either. Enjoy Love Island, sure. But view it with a pinch of salt. If you don’t look exactly like the people you see on your TV screen every evening, please don’t be hard on yourself. Take a leaf out of Georgia’s book and embrace who you want to be.
Townend goes on to say that she “wanted to represent normal girls who struggle to date, aren’t interested in the social equity and had a genuine desire to find someone”. It seems somewhat ironic that Georgia sees following a “genuine desire to find someone” as an “unorthodox” method of trying to find a partner. This paints a pretty damning picture of Love Island as a dating format and the manipulation, which takes place within the villa, where the contestants treat each-other as a pawn in their pursuit of the fifty-thousand-pound prize money under the guise of finding love. Admittedly, “game-player” is a common insult thrown around the villa, suggesting some islanders object to this use of the show’s prolific viewing, but you must question to what extent Love Island has the capacity to offer society an insight into genuine relationships all the same. For this reason alone, Love Island should not be treated as a lesson in finding love.
It goes without saying that there have been several Love Island success stories. Take the likes of season five’s Molly-Mae Hague and Tommy Fury or Olivia Buckland and Alex Bowen from season two as examples of couples who have managed to stay together and build a life outside of the villa. Despite this, Georgia Townend was quick to draw a contrast between herself and the typical dating etiquette employed by most islanders stating, “I didn’t want to invest my time where it was unrequited or to have to sabotage couples to save my own skin”. This exposes the toxic environment that the villa can be for the contestants, but also the viewers. It is worth noting the social implications the attitudes that the show perpetuates, where people’s feelings are played with or used for an individuals’ gain, in this case – money and fame. The disregard of others for personal gain in dating is not a habit that we should be encouraging and Love Island does just that on many occasions.
In taking a stand against typical tactics of the Love Island villa and embracing herself despite the expectations of the perfect islander, Georgia Townend provides viewers with a more realistic role model. She is someone who unapologetically champions individualism and used the platform to pursue a romantic interest without the unspoken game plan of bagging a PLT deal upon exiting the villa. She urges viewers to “never compromise your values, don’t ever feel you need to change to fit in”. Particularly for the young impressionable viewers of the show, this is a really important message to take away. Society and the media will always try and force an image of perfection on us, but take note when Georgia places her integrity and sense of self above the approval of others or the naïve pursuit of fame which, by its very nature, is here one minute and gone the next.