BOX Asks... Are reality shows like Love Island dangerous?

Recently we were shocked with the news about former love island contestant Sophie Gradon, who sadly took her own life back in June. The news of Sophie’s death got us thinking here a BOX HQ, about how dangerous Love Island could be to its cast members and to society in general. 

Former contestant Zara Holland has spoken up about her experience on the popular reality show. Speaking to the BBC, Zara says that the show will change your life. She states, “I’ve been seeing my own psychiatrist and psychologist since January and I’m on anti-depressants.” Zara who applied for the show when she was 20 years old back in 2016, entered the Low Island villa as Miss Great Britain, a title she was very proud of.

Having encountered a night with a male contestant on the show which stemmed to her having sex on TV resulted in Zara being stripped from her Miss GB title when she left the villa. Zara continues “if you do something on that show, whatever it may be. It is never going to leave you. With social media, it’s always going to haunt you.”

“It is just like being in a posh prison really. You have two producers that do live in the villa with you 24/7. So, every day we would have talks with them and they would ask how you’re feeling, sort of who you think are the best couples. They might say to you, right Zara so now can you go and sit by the pool, we’re going to send so and so over, and this is what we want you to talk about.”

We are shocked to find this out as back in 2016 the show was only in its 2rd series, therefore to us, as viewers the show looked natural and realistic. However, having found out that cast members where to told probably wear certain swim shorts and head over to the pool to talk to another male in swim shorts, was quite a revelation to us. By all means reality TV is only real to a certain extent, Love Island do it in a way that’s extremely believable, and its viewers obviously get sucked in to it all which is how people such as Zara and Sophie from the 2016 series have been left in a dark place afterwards.

Zara Continues to explain, “It was so controlled in there that you got told when to go to bed, when to wake up, when dinner was.” When asked if the females have to wear makeup Zara explains “Oh yes, you have to. You’re not really allowed to wear like a swimming costume as such. You have to get ready and do your hair and makeup.” 

(This year we know that many brands have sent items in for the contestants to wear, maybe we could get some Box Menswear into the villa next year. That would be cool seeing BOX men’s black briefs and men’s swimming shorts on the contestants around the pool, right?)

The former Miss GB also says “being in the villa, there was so much pressure. For me personally, I feel like I had a really tough experience, just because I went in there, didn’t find anyone, I was never in a couple as such so I always felt very lonely and on my own. And that was hard in itself because all the couples would be having conversations, or they would go to the smoking area, and even little things like I didn’t even smoke.”

“There was a psychiatrist all the time you could speak to in the villa, but you had to ask for it. It was never would anybody like to speak to it today?”

ITV commented back to this, stating, “All of our islanders are offered psychological support before, during and after their time in the villa. We take our duty of care very seriously and this is always our top priority. We discuss with islanders, before and after the show how their lives might change and the difficulties they might face.”

Zara explains “during my time on Love Island, I lost my title as Miss Great Britain for having sex in the hideaway with a guy. Sophie [Gradon] was the only one really that stood by me. A few days later there was a Miss, sort of, talent competition, and Sophie did a very empowering and inspirational speech. Sort of about women, I guess and about me and supporting me. It just doesn’t seem true, still doesn’t seem true.”


It is claimed that after the show Zara experienced some mental health difficulties. She explains “I was just not the same girl that I was. I would be so upset all the time. I’d be tired, it was really hard, really hard. Like, I would really torture myself sometimes. I would go searching and looking for those negative comments. They would go from death threats, to people wishing you were dead. I had this one message and it said Zara, I hope you know how annoying you are. You are the ugliest person inside and out. I would love nothing more than to punch you in the face.” 

It’s actually hard to believe that this kind of abuse is allowed online, we feel that more needs to be done with cyber bullying and trolling. Recently, we are hearing more and more stories of people tragically taking their own lives due to the effects of social media and the pressure that society puts on people these days. We all need to remember than most people’s social media feeds are only a portion of their life and they choose to put the good pictures up, like ones from the beach in their designer swimwear and beach body looking amazing. We need to remember to not look into and scrutinise things like we do and there is much more to life than what we see online.  

What are your thoughts on reality TV? Comment below and let us know.


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