The Searches For Love Island’s Sharon And Faye Prove They’re Right About The Non-Fake Beauty Standard

While they definitely need their own lessons on privilege, you can't deny their points were valid.

Love Island challenge

by Georgia Aspinall |
Updated on

On last night’s episode of Love Island, thinks got political fast. At least, as political as it gets for two very privileged white women. The campaign of choice? The right to cosmetic surgery without judgement.

When Hugo Hammond revealed that his biggest turn-off was ‘fakeness’, the PE teacher stressed a little too hard that he didn’t just mean personality, he meant looks too. It was just moments after almost all the female contestants revealed what cosmetic procedures they’d had done, so not only was the timing incredibly awkward, his persistence to repeat that he hates ‘fake looks’ more than once began to come across as a pointed dig. At least, that’s how Sharon Gaffka and Faye Winter took it.

Now, let’s be clear, the women didn’t exactly handle it well. Almost immediately, they started using coded language like ‘get educated’ and calling Hugo ‘ignorant’. When confronting Hugo, Sharon said ‘I would never say I wouldn’t date someone because of their height or their race,’ seemingly equating Hugo’s aversion to girls with plastic surgery to racism. That, coupled with Faye’s very dramatic explanation of why her parents bought her boob job at the age of 18 (after years of crying about being ‘underdeveloped’), left viewers feeling uncomfortable with how they chose to get their point across.

And they’re right to, the stigmatisation of women who have cosmetic surgery is far from comparable to the racism experienced by minorities. The appropriation of phrases that were used heavily last year to encourage people to understand the way their behaviour further marginalises people of colour is completely inappropriate. And more than that, it’s worth them realising that their ability to change the things they hate about themselves to better meet white supremacist beauty standards is an act of privilege in itself.

They went about it the wrong way – that’s undeniable - but the thing is, Sharon and Faye are also absolutely right about the unattainable standard of ‘natural’ beauty for women. These two things can, in fact, be true at once.

Take the Google data, for example. Almost immediately after revealing they had work done ‘Sharon Love Island before surgery’ and ‘Faye Love Island before surgery’ started trending as breakout search terms. It happens every year when female contestants reveal they’ve had plastic surgery, and it always results in before and after pictures being shared online that see the women picked apart for choosing to change their looks.

The society we live in tells us we don’t look good enough as we are, the fact that even those who meet the beauty standard choose to undergo cosmetic surgery (or wildly photoshop their images) are proof of that. We alter our appearance with make-up, tweakments and surgery, but with the colossal rise of casual cosmetic procedures like lip filler and Botox, a new way to judge women has been born: whether or not they’re beauty is ‘fake’.

From wearing make-up to getting full facial reconstruction, women are simply not allowed to meet the beauty standards unnaturally without being judged. The perfect example? Gigi and Bella Hadid. They’re both supermodels, literally paid millions for how beautiful they are, and yet Bella is constantly criticised for allegedly achieving said beauty through cosmetic surgery – while Gigi is hailed as an incredible ‘natural’ beauty.

Sharon said it herself, neither she nor Faye look particularly ‘natural’. While the work other girls have had done may go unnoticed to an untrained eye, their lip filler is hard to miss even for those men who comment on pictures of Kylie Jenner with ‘She looks so beautiful without makeup!!’ meanwhile she has full contour and her eyelashes are meeting the ceiling.

It’s likely then that both Sharon and Faye have felt judgement from their peers and strangers alike for their cosmetic choices. Hell, you only need to scroll social media when Love Island is on to see it in action. There’s no wonder they’re defensive, then, and maybe slightly projecting their annoyance onto Hugo.

But the thing is, Hugo is also entirely wrong to proclaim he hates fake looks, whether it’s his personal preference or not. Everyone is allowed to have a type, but what is he really saying when he says he doesn’t like women with ‘fake looks’? Is his objection to lips that look too pouty and cheeks that look too filled? Or, is it any work that a woman has done that he doesn’t like, whether it looks natural or not? Because to be honest, we doubt he’d be able to tell the difference between ‘natural’ and ‘fake’ beauty most of the time.

What are we valuing when we say natural beauty, someones genetic disposition?

When you really think about it, loving someone more for being ‘natural’ is really, really fucking weird. Because what are we valuing here, their genetic disposition? Are you going to congratulate their parents on mixing their DNA in the most ideal way to create a child who meets your standard of beauty all on her own, no injections needed? Are women simply doomed before we’re even born then, unable to become ‘beautiful’ using the countless procedures rammed down our throats every day in order to be worthy of a supposed ‘nice guy’ like Hugo?

All preferring natural beauty does is provide another meaningless value to judge women off, while simultaneously upholding a standard of beauty that makes women want to seek cosmetic surgery in the first place. Even if Hugo’s preference is more focused, in that he maybe doesn’t like women who obviously look like they’ve had a lot of filler or plastic surgery, he should be finding another way to say that other than using the very generalised and loaded term of disliking women for being ‘fake’.

So yes, Sharon and Faye might need their own lessons on privilege and obscene comparisons of apparent oppression, but they were absolutely right to give Hugo a talking to about his own weird beauty standards. We just wish they’d also give the same talking to Aaron Francis for his disdain for ‘hairy arms’ – now that’s a preference that absolutely needs unpicking.

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