Love Island: Josh and Coco are dumped out of the villa
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As a new set of contestants take part in Winter Love Island, Coco warned them not to set their expectations too high for life after the show. The abuse she suffered was so appalling she almost had a breakdown in a London shopping centre, she revealed.
“Nothing could prepare you for the level of online trolling I had. Nothing,” she said. “There were so many horrible attacks just focused on my appearance.”
Now hosted by Maya Jama and with a villa in South Africa, the show is set to run until spring.
But Coco said contestants should be careful what they wished for.
The 27-year-old, from Guildford, Surrey, said she was not only the target of thousands of abusive messages online, but also random passengers on public transport.
She was even shown abusive tweets by Love Island fans rushing up to her while she shopped.
Coco went into the show at the last-minute as a so-called “bombshell”.
It was during a part of the series called Casa Amor, in which contestants are tested to see if they would be unfaithful.
Asked if ITV2, which broadcasts the show, had deliberately cast her as a femme fatale, she replied: “Yes, I guess.
“But I would say I’m probably like the complete opposite of that.”
Everyone around her had bigged up her opportunities after she was scouted by the production company to enter Love Island.
She was paid £80 a day and spent 12 days in the Villa before leaving.
“The thing is, you always think you’re gonna come out super, super successful with all these brand deals because everyone around you is hyping you up.
“The management I had when I went in, he said, ‘Yeah, she’s gonna be amazing’. Producers said, ‘Yeah, we’re in love with you.’ So you do get excited.”
Asked if she felt everyone on the show was exploited by the channel, she replied: “I feel that within the context I was used as part of the storyline, as a Casa Amor girl, you are. Do I think they maybe know who will be in the final at the beginning? Potentially. But any TV show exploits those on it to an extent.”
“Dumped” from the Villa, her nightmare began when she got home.
“I think the worst thing is that people were very nasty about how my face looks, and also my nose. People were also saying I was transgender. I have beautiful trans friends who are stunning but I’m not one.
“There were people saying I have a face which is as ****ed up as mine, because I was in a house fire or a car crash. And still to this day, I get people asking me like, ‘I’m so sorry, you were in that car crash’. I wasn’t in a car crash!”
Coco could not even avoid the slurs when she went shopping at Westfield.
“I travelled there on the bus,” she explained, “and people were shouting things at me, awful things.”
Coco had a fling with fellow contestant Tasha’s boyfriend Andrew in Casa Amor.
“They were shouting awful things to me about Tasha because of that whole storyline,” she said. “When I first got out of the Villa, I hadn’t looked at Twitter. I hadn’t seen the extent of it.
“I had been told there was quite a lot [of trolling] on TikTok.
“Then in the shopping centre, people kept coming up to me to ask if I was okay, and showed me all the abuse on Twitter.
“I just had a breakdown in the middle of Westfield. I was literally having a meltdown.”
But despite all the hurt, she revealed she would do the show again. “I would,” she said. “But I would say to the producers first, ‘Look, don’t film me from that angle you filmed me before.
“It was doing no justice to my nose shape!”
The last Love Island season was beset by controversy with more than 7,000 complaints to Ofcom over coercive behaviour by men, and gaslighting.
Ofcom refused to investigate them, but women’s charities, such as Refuge, are continuing to monitor the show.
Two former Love Island contestants – Sophie Gra-don and Mike Thalassitis – killed themselves after appearing on the show.
Former presenter Caroline Flack also took her own life after enduring constant online bullying.
Coco says she is stronger for the experience, even though the online jibes continue today about her face and nose.
She said: “I feel like I am way more resilient than I ever thought I was.
“And I would have never known it unless I went through it.
“I feel like I’m probably one of the strongest people ever.”
- Love Island, ITV2, 9pm
- If you are struggling, contact the Samaritans on 116 123 or email [email protected]
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