Written by Morgan Cormack
Love Island’s Laura Whitmore has been the target of online abuse for presenting the popular reality show, and it’s clear that many viewers have forgotten the tragic circumstances that brought the already-popular presenter to the ITV show in the first place.
Content warning: this article contains references to suicide that some readers may find triggering.
Whether you love it or loathe it, Love Island is back again, bringing weeks of non-stop memes, fashion analysis, and cringeworthy dating commentary. Each evening, millions of viewers tune in to the series, cast opinions over relationship dynamics and ogle at the (now secondhand) summertime outfits. But the start of this year’s series has also seen the return of a much less welcome feature: the Twitter-based abuse of presenter Laura Whitmore.
Unfortunately, this negative online reaction was somewhat expected by Whitmore. In a TikTok that she later posted to her Instagram on Sunday 5 June, she wrote: “Shall we get this out of the way, then we can enjoy the juicy bits! See ya Monday x”
She highlighted some of the things that have been written about her or said since she took the job, including the number flights to Mallorca she has to take and the fact that her salary is often highlighted. She said: “Firstly, Iain [Stirling, her partner and Love Island announcer] has never had attention on money he earns. Why don’t we like women earning money?”
She also hit back against those who criticised her age and said: “I don’t plan to date the islanders! I’m the host. Age means experience and it’s a privilege.”
Monday night’s (6 June) series eight premiere garnered much attention, but overwhelmingly, the online reaction to the show’s return homed in on Whitmore, whose name was trending on Twitter after being widely attacked by Love Island viewers, as well as defended by people who were shocked by other viewers’ apparently short memories.
Whitmore is Love Island’s second host, having taken over the role from her late friend Caroline Flack. Whitmore took on the role permanently after Flack’s death by suicide in February 2020.
With the barrage of online insults aimed at Whitmore, many counteracted them with a poignant reminder. Many viewers took the opportunity to remind others of the hashtag #BeKind, a movement that rose to prominence after news of Flack’s death broke. Flack had also been widely abused online and had been a tabloid mainstay.
One viewer tweeted: “Everyone absolutely slating into Laura Whitmore when she’s the host because the last one literally took her own life is absolutely disgusting you would want to take a look at yourselves #bekind #loveisland”
Many of the comments also referenced Whitmore’s age and fact she’s recently had a baby, to which one BBC Radio presenter Nayha Ahmad rightfully underlined: “Think people need to stop tweeting mean things about Laura Whitmore! She’s GORGEOUS and an awesome presenter!!! Just because she’s had a baby doesn’t make her old! FFS. She’s amazing.”
While many pledged to “do better” following Flack’s death, it’s become increasingly clear that some viewers have forgotten part of the reason why Whitmore had to take over the presenting role in the first place.
While Whitmore’s name may have been trending for negative reasons, the outpouring of support for the presenter is a reminder of what many Love Island fans set out to do after Flack’s death: to be kinder and more considerate of those in the spotlight. It’s something that we didn’t think would need to be underlined so soon into the new series, but it’s an important point to remember as we continue watching the show for the rest of the summer.
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