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Miss GB, Zara Holland, did not deserve to lose her title

If you’ve been watching ITV reality show Love Island, you’ll know that one of the contestants, Zara Holland, is Miss Great Britain. She’s only said it 627 times a day. Except she doesn’t have the right to say it any more, because as of Thursday, she’s been officially stripped of her title.

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Her crime? Having sex with new boy Alex Bowen on the show. Scenes aired on Wednesday night showed the two getting up close and personal in the villa’s private Hideaway bedroom. Unfortunately the numerous cameras in the room mean it’s the opposite of private.

Holland, 24, was crowned Miss GB in September 2015, but her actions on Love Island have cut short her reign, with pageant organisers issuing the following statement to confirm she has been dethroned:

“Following recent actions within ITV2 show Love Island it is with deep regret that we, the Miss Great Britain Organisation, have to announce that Zara Holland has formally been de-crowned as Miss Great Britain. As an organisation we have not taken this decision lightly, we are close to all of our winners and wherever possibly stand by them during their rein. That said, we feel we have no choice but to make this decision under the circumstances. The feedback we have received from pageant insiders and members of the general public is such that we cannot promote Zara as a positive role model moving forward. We wholly understand that everyone makes mistakes, but Zara, as an ambassador for Miss Great Britain, simply did not uphold the responsibility expected of the title”.

Clearly Holland regretted her actions — she was visibly upset in the Beach Hut confessional the morning after and admitted that what she did was completely out of character for her. “You know when you’re in the moment and it just happens”, she said. “That’s really not like me at all. Why couldn’t we have just gone to sleep?”

God knows how Holland is feeling now that she’s been given the news. According to reports, she’s chosen to stay on the show rather than return home — which is probably a wise idea.

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There’s a whole lot of judgment going down, and it’s completely unfair. For starters, Holland hasn’t done anything the rest of the islanders haven’t done (several times). She comes across as a sweet girl, and she’s right — sometimes sex just happens. Between two consenting adults, what’s the problem? Isn’t this what the show is all about?

It’s funny that the other person involved in the sexy time — the man — hasn’t copped anything like the same amount of flak. While Holland was wiping away tears in the Beach Hut and feeling her ears burn as the other women accused her of “playing the victim” and being “stupid” and “naive”, Bowen was getting back-slapped by his fellow males. Actually, that’s not funny at all. It’s predictable and boring and misogynistic.

In terms of the Miss GB scandal, let’s drag ourselves out of the Dark Ages. Isn’t this 2016? Shouldn’t women be able to make decisions about their sex lives without being judged… and punished? If a single woman in her 20s is being shamed for taking part in a sexual act, what message does that send to young girls?

It was completely naive and unfair of the Miss GB pageant organisers to give permission to Holland to appear on a reality TV show about a bunch of single 20-somethings hooking up as part of their quest to find love/win the show (whichever way you want to look at it). If they had decided to stand by Holland, that would have suggested that modern-day pageantry is forward-thinking and understands that having sex doesn’t make a woman a slag or a disappointment or a bad person. Instead, they’ve shown how outdated and sanctimonious the system is.

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