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“Are we living in the dark ages?” Outcry as Miss GB is stripped of her title following one-night stand

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Amy Lewis
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Who decides what makes a good role model - and is the criteria for it sexist?

Those are the questions being mooted after Love Island's Zara Holland was stripped of her Miss Great Britain title by the organisers of the pageant, following a one-night stand with fellow contestant Alex Bowen on the ITV2 reality show.

Holland was seen in bed with love interest Bowen during clips shown on last night’s Love Island episode, before later discussing her regret over the encounter and confirming that the pair did have sex.

Shortly after the episode aired, Miss Great Britain officials released a statement on Twitter announcing that Holland has been de-crowned as a result of ‘recent actions’ - a decision that has been met with widespread disapproval and accusations of slut-shaming.

But from a pageantry organisation that is essentially founded on sexist ideals, should we expect anything less?

Zara Holland

Love Island contestant Zara Holland

The Miss GB statement reads: “Following recent actions within the 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 2015/16.

“As an organisation we have not taken this decision lightly, we are close to all of our winners and wherever possible stand by them during their reign. That said, we feel we have no choice but to make this decision under the current circumstances.

“Although Miss Great Britain is the oldest pageant system in the UK, we pride ourselves on promoting the positivity of pageants in modern society and this includes the promotion of a strong, positive, female role model in our winners.

“The feedback we have received from pageant insiders and members of the general public is that we cannot promote Zara as a positive role model moving forward,” the statement continues.

“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.”

The announcement goes onto declare pageant runner up Deone Robertson as the new title holder, and wishing Zara the best going forward.

Caroline Flack, host of Love Island, is one of the many women who took to Twitter to respond to the statement, writing: “Feel even more sorry for Zara now she's been de-crowned. She's a very sweet girl . What even is 'miss GB'? Are we living in the dark ages?”

Flack was live tweeting along with the airing of the show, sharing her sympathy for Holland who, in a to-camera scene, revealed that she regretted having sex with Bowen.

“You know when you're in the moment and it just happens?” said the pageant competitor, who also runs her own fashion boutique. “That's really not like me at all. Why couldn't we have just gone to sleep?”

Many have been quick to call the pageant out for publicly slut-shaming Holland, accusing the organisation of punishing her simply because she had sex.

One Twitter user writes: “So a woman has sex and her crown is taken away? Must have missed the time machine taking us to 1546.”

Another branded the move an act of everyday sexism: “Zara Holland is a sexually empowered woman and doesn't deserve this kind of public embarrassment - wouldn't happen to a man #everydaysexism.”

A male fan of the show also wrote on Facebook: “So someone engaging in sexual activity is classed as being a bad role model?! What times are you guys in? She's on a show called Love Island, she made love. What's the big deal.”

Miss GB has responded by clarifying their position in a subsequent tweet, adding: “To be clear we have no problem at all with sex-it is perfectly natural.We simply can't condone what happened on national TV.”

Despite attempts to justify their actions however, the organisation is still being lambasted on social media, with many claiming that the pageant bosses hold an outdated view of what constitutes a ‘strong, positive, female role model’.

 

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Amy Lewis

Amy Lewis is a freelance writer and editor, a lover of strong tea, equally strong eyebrows, a collector of facial oils and a cat meme enthusiast. She covers everything from beauty and fashion to feminism and travel.

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