I saw the sacrifices Zara Holland made to be Miss GB – dethroning her for sex on Love Island is absurd

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Let she who has never sucked a dick cast the first stone.  While Zara Holland tanned herself on ITV2’s Love Island last night, she was blissfully unaware that she has been de-crowned as Miss Great Britain. This is because, the night before, it was implied that Zara engaged in oral sex with fellow housemate Alex on a reality TV show called Love Island – a show where 1,000 condoms are dotted around the villa for the housemates’ usage.  A show literally created for the contestants to bang on TV.

I am currently Miss Great Britain South East, and they’ve got this all wrong. The Miss GB organisation works closely with Zara’s manager, and helped to send her on the show. Sex on Love Island is not a new thing that Zara suddenly started last night.

The pairs are “coupled up” off looks alone, and are forced to subsequently share a bed for the remaining six weeks. These partnerships can chop and change unofficially, but until the “official” recoupling, the original couples must still share the same bed, or they face elimination.

Across the weeks the couples are given a whole host of sexually themed challenges, such as a “penis molding” competition, and last night, the girls had to fight in their underwear in a swimming pool of jelly. It’s tasteless but totally addictive TV.

In fact, the pressure to have sex on the Island is so high that if you don’t (and are therefore classed as “single”) you risk the chance of elimination (and therefore, are disqualified from winning the £50,000 cash prize, as well as losing your spot in the luxury Spanish villa for six weeks). Therefore the show often sees “desperation” coupling for immunity, which could easily be the case between Zara and Alex.

The Miss GB organisation released a statement (and a number of retweets) that seemed to suggest that the decision to de-crown was made not because Zara had sex, but because the sex was shown on TV. This apparently “voids her contract”, as she is “no longer a role model”. Also in the Miss GB contract is the inability to pose in underwear or nude, but they have let Zara do both, frequently, during her reign. In fact, a previous statement by the Miss GB organisation (all this over one implied blowjob!) said that they understood Zara was a “young, single 20 year old girl” and that “everyone makes mistakes”. So why did they change their mind in the space of less than a day?

I’ve met Zara. In fact, before the final show over a Nando’s, I told her, “You’re going to win this.” Out of 50 girls, Zara had truly shown the commitment necessary for a year of promotion and responsibility. She moved house, gave up her job, and raised just over £3,000 for charity, all in an effort to put herself in a better chance of winning. On the night, she won Miss Charity and Miss Bikini Body, as well as the main title.

As well as being extremely organised, she was also extremely caring, lending me moisturiser when I had forgotten mine, and teaching me the dance moves that were suddenly sprung upon us, which she seemed to learn instantly with all the necessary grace. Zara played the game and won Miss GB, and she’s doing the same to win Love Island. She sees what she needs to do and does so without hesitation. Last night she realised she needed immunity. Regardless of the fact that she appeared to have given a blowjob on TV, due to her sheer determination and focus, she was the right decision for Miss GB.

Regardless of their original opinions of her, people have come out en masse to show support for Zara after the announcement was made, calling the system “archaic” and “patriarchal”. As much as I wanted to defend pageants as feminist due to their renewed emphasis on personality and charity work rather than just being based on oiled bodies in bikinis, I simply cannot after their decision to de-throne Zara. If a woman is no longer a “role model” after having sex, but is judged to become the role model in a pageant wearing little more than their underwear, where does that leave them? This is another case of policing women; they can, and should be, sexual, but only when it suits other people.  By de-throning Zara, the Miss Great Britain organisation is saying that it’s not OK when women take control over their own bodies, rather than showing them off in competitions to other people.

This situation also puts a lot of pressure on “current” Miss GB (as of last night) Deone Robertson. Miss Tourism (the Miss GB equivalent to Miss World) is in September, for which Zara will have had months of training. Not only has the tarnished title been thrust upon Deone nine months into her reign, she now has to take on one of the largest pageants in the world, in Thailand, with rushed training and little preparation. Becoming Miss Great Britain was also Deone’s dream, but she gets no glory or recognition, and no chance of ever re-competing for the title in her own right. This seems like the consolation prize that no one wants.

After everything Zara gave up to be Miss Great Britain, it seems harsh to suddenly pull the rug away from under her – and even worse to leave her for six more weeks in the villa without even letting her know.

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