THIS week I got the call of a lifetime – I got the call for Love Island.
Did I want to trade my boyfriend of eight years for a sunshine holiday, fame and the chance to make millions?
On Thursday a producer at ITV rang, wanting to know if I was a) single and b) interested in appearing in the next series of Love Island.
And if I wasn't single but was interested, would I dump my boyfriend, Alex, for the opportunity.
The producer told me that of the 85,000 applicants they get every year – more than apply to Oxbridge – they look for someone with a bit of 'something different.'
First we had Camilla, who worked in landmine disposal, then it was Dr Alex, the NHS doctor and this year we had “scientist” Yewande.
I think what the producer was trying to tell me was that they wanted someone not quite as fit as the rest of them, but a bit smarter. No offence.
It was a flattering call, I won’t lie to you (I’ve subsequently been congratulated by both of my parents, and howled at by my sister)… but one that seemed about as unlikely to me as my being accepted onto the space programme.
I am so not Love Island – or the face of the inevitable Missguided deal every female Islander leaves with.
'I'd slip and break my neck in high heels'
Despite being a slim (ish), young, blonde woman, I cannot imagine anywhere I’d feel less at home than in the Love Island villa, where the women wear next to nothing and flaunt their (often) surgically enhanced bodies.
I rarely wear makeup, live in scruffy clothes and hardly ever brush my hair.
The closest I’ve ever got to plastic surgery was with a “lip plumping” lip gloss – and if I so much as tried to wear a pair of high heels near the pool I’d inevitably slip and break my neck.
Even if I survived that, I don’t know how I’d feel about opening myself up to the show’s 3.3 million nightly viewers.
'You will be haunted by this for the rest of your life'
The producer told me they look for a bit of something different.
I’m a lot of something different and I don’t think I’d ever be strong enough to deal with the public's critical eye.
The reason Love Island is so enjoyable to watch is because the contestants are all SO perfect – it’s like playing The Sims.
People troll the contestants on the logic that it’s okay because they are too good looking to care.
It's almost like they’re their own caricatures – they’re not real (at least, that’s what we tell ourselves).
This year, Harley Brash, 20, was trending on Twitter, with people mocking her mouth and lips
Tragic Love Island star Sophie Gradon called for action to stop trolls who drive people to suicide weeks before she took her own life.
Sophie, 32, told a cyber bullying conference in March she “descended into a dark place” after the ITV2 show because of vicious online abuse.
And Zara Holland admitted she too struggled with her mental health and warned wannabe contestants: “You will be haunted by this for the rest of your life.”
'I don't want the humiliation of not being picked'
I'm not perfect – and I'd be an easy target with my stomach rolls and heat rash.
I think I’d make it all too real. And this is why, I suspect, the show will never change.
In order to give it the diversity it so desperately needs there will first to be a woman that doesn’t look as good in a bikini as the others, a man who’s balding, someone in a wheelchair, a person with a scar…
And who wants be the first to make that change?
At the end of the day, it’s a looks-based show. And I got picked last for sports teams enough times to know the humiliation of not being chosen. That’s not something I want to relive in front of the ruthless British public.
Be careful what you wish for
And then of course there’s the fact that Love Island changes your life.
If they like you, that’s any chance of a normal life out the window (Amy found herself too famous to continue working as an air hostess, a job that she loved) and if they hate you, well, that’s your whole life out the window.
The aftercare (or lack thereof) for contestants on the show is something that’s been well documented, with both Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis having subsequently taken their own lives.
I got the call that so many people want to get – and I had to turn it down.
Not just because of my very long term relationship, or because I’m too sensitive to face the (inevitably cruel) judgement of the nation, or that I’d be the only one to have tummy rolls (plural), or that it would turn my life as I know it on it’s head.
Not even because I’d die at the thought of my parents watching me having sex.
I turned it down because I know that all that glitters is most certainly not gold, and no amount of Range Rover Sports would see me sell my soul to this particular devil.
That and the fact that I honestly don’t know how I’d be able to not throw someone in the pool for asking: “what’s Brexit???” as Hayley Hughes famously did in Series 3.
Source: Read Full Article