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By Sarah Finnan
07th Sep 2021

Laura Whitmore / Instagram

The public bashing Laura Whitmore is all too familiar territory given ‘Love Island’s’ murky past

Responding to some of the backlash she’s received since the reunion special aired over the weekend, Laura Whitmore jumped on Instagram stories to clear up a few things.

Consent

First sharing a screenshot of a DM she received from a follower, the message in question reads, “If you’re going to ask people invasive questions based off tabloid stories because it’s your job… remember that when you name and shame other journalists who ask you the same questions because they’re too, doing their job.”

Making reference to a viral tweet the presenter put out back in May, she caused quite a divide online after she singled out a journalist trying to confirm the name of the baby daughter she shares with husband Iain Sterling. Many felt that it was hypocritical of Laura though, especially considering she got her start as a showbiz journalist on MTV. 

The distinction here, according to Laura, is consent though. Responding to the message, she said, “I insist everyone sees the questions before they go on air and are ok with it. I believe in choice, so nothing is ever asked without permission… that is the difference!” 

“Consent is an important word that can become blurred,” she continued. “Everyone has a choice and everyone has a right to make their own decisions.”

The read receipts

Going on to clarify a few other things, the Bray native addressed many of the other topics she’s faced criticism on – including seating arrangements, scripting and awkward silences. “Hundreds of people work on Love Island,” she wrote. “My job is not to organise seating arrangements. I barely know what seat I’m sitting in before the show as set changes so much. 

“We invited Kaz to sit with Toby for his exes segment but she didn’t want to and it’s her choice to make. Everything is run through with the islanders beforehand. It’s all about choice!,” she added. 

As for her line of questioning, she again reiterated the fact that she only asks questions that have been “pre-approved by the compliance division”. “A lot of meetings happen before I see the script and then I can add my voice.”

Some viewers noted that the atmosphere seemed “awkward” or “tense” this year and while that could be down to a number of different factors, Laura was quick to point out that the contestants are “just regular people who were nervous on live telly”. “Unlike previous years, the islanders weren’t allowed alcohol,” she told followers. “I’m sure some would have loved a drink for the nerves!”

Finishing her series of stories with a clip of herself dancing, she accompanied it with the caption, “Life is short… live the best one you can whilst you can.”

Cancelling out the backlash

Not everyone had bad things to say about the reunion/Laura’s handling of the situation though and she later posted a screenshot of another DM she had received from a fan – this one much more complimentary. “I am so angry/upset that the press have printed unnecessary articles about you,” it reads. 

“You shouldn’t have to defend yourself. You are an AMAZING PRESENTER!! After how Caroline Flack was treated by them… I can’t understand why they continue to print this negativity… You deserve all the praise in the world for the amazing way you do your job. It’s empowering how you stand up to them.”

Recognising that she often receives messages of this kind from lovely followers, The Whitmore said that while she feels a certain responsibility to “call out the BS”, it’s equally important to “take a moment” to appreciate all the support too. 

History repeating itself

The above message raises an interesting point and I can’t help but agree that it feels a little as though history is repeating itself here. “Be kind” floods our timelines only after something terrible has already happened but it’s not long before those messages are forgotten and the same people pick up where they left off. 

Love Island has long been criticised for its commitment to protecting the health and well-being of contestants but the same duty of care should extend to the rest of the team too. Whatever your opinion of her as a host, being in the direct line of fire should not come as just another accepted part of her job.

Laura Whitmore has always been well-able to stand up for herself, but that’s not the point and having already seen one of her best friends torn apart by the public (along with several of the series’ former contestants), better supports should be in place to protect those who find themselves at the internet’s mercy.

Some of the concerns people raised were valid and as a presenter, it’s important to get feedback, but there are much better ways to go about this than making it personal and venting your frustrations on Twitter.

Ideally, people would have learned from past mistakes and we would not be facing the same situation time and time again… when pigs fly though, eh?