He said, she said: the dethroning of Miss Great Britain, Zara Holland

Leon and Amelia weigh in on the recent dethroning of Miss Great Britain.

If you haven’t heard, Miss Great Britain, Zara Holland, was stripped of her title this week after having sex with fellow contestant Alex Bowen on UK reality show Love Island.

The decision of the Miss Great Britain organisation to dethrone Ms Holland has sparked some serious discussion online (and in the YourLifeChoices office) about whether it was a justifiable punishment considering her position as a role model.

The Miss Great Britain organisation said on its official Facebook page that “Zara is a lovely girl, we understand that this is out of character for her and that she truly regrets her actions; however the decision simply comes down to the fact that she has broken the rules of the competition. Miss Great Britain works with charities, children and young, impressionable people; our title holder must be an ambassador and this public behaviour does not support the ethos of our brand.”

Amelia and Leon weigh in with their thoughts:

She said:
The Miss Great Britain organisation defended its decision to dump Holland but in all fairness, it defended her too, responding to Twitter users who slut-shamed the 20-year-old by tweeting: “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.”

It’s safe to say that the organisation’s decision came from wishing to protect the ‘wholesome’ image of what Miss Great Britain represents. And that’s fair enough. Especially given that Ms Holland reportedly agreed not to have sex before going on the salacious show.

Love Island is a reality TV show designed to allow contestants and viewers a chance to indulge in lewd fantasies. So it seems unfair that Ms Holland would be ‘allowed’ by the Miss Great Britain organisation to participate in the show (taking on the role of a sexy, playful girl), only to be punished for engaging in behaviour that the show facilitates. I mean, if the organisation is so concerned with the image of Miss Great Britain, why did they let her go on the show in the first place?

This incident doesn’t exist in a vacuum. What cannot be ignored is that western society in general has a big problem with sex. We love to have it, see it and talk about it – but we can’t seem to admit that.

Sex has always been shrouded in shame, especially for women. And if you’re a woman in the public eye, sex is a double-edged sword. As Miss Great Britain, Ms Holland’s beauty and sexuality were marketable assets. But to actually follow through and have sex? Well, that just crosses the line.

He said:
It’s funny, you know. After a relatively ‘robust’ debate in the office yesterday, I do tend to agree with Amelia on this one. Mostly.

The Miss Great Britain contest is an (outdated) pageant from which the winner is expected to be a role model. Essentially, Miss Great Britain becomes an ambassador for Great Britain, working with charities and presenting an ‘ideal image’ for young girls in the UK, and indeed, throughout the world.

And yes, we all (hopefully) have sex. It’s a natural part of life. And what we do in our own homes is our own business.

But Zara Holland had sex on television, going against the Miss Great Britain ethos. She agreed not to have sex on the show, and so the organisation allowed her to be a part of the proceedings. (I’m not even going to go into why that happened in the first place. Seems ludicrous to me and, in my opinion, undermines the already limited integrity of the pageant.)

Ms Holland’s decision to engage in a sex act on television clearly violated this agreement.

The real issue here is: how does this act affect the minds of the impressionable young girls who’ve witnessed it? Sure, western society may have an issue with sex, a point with which I agree. Maybe we should talk about it more. Maybe it shouldn’t be shrouded in censorship. Maybe education is the best policy. Is it fair to say though, that Ms Holland’s act sends a mixed message to the girls and boys of the world? If she can do it publicly, it must be okay?

It probably should be said too, that Love Island is not the type of show impressionable children should be watching anyway.

This is not a case of her being persecuted because she engaged in a natural act. She broke an agreement, pure and simple. She was being paid to be an ambassador and a role model and her act broke this covenant and if you sign a contract, you are expected to abide by its terms. That’s a lesson all children and adults learn in life.

The real issue for me is: why do we even have these types of pageants? Surely the fact that these contests are judged on ‘beauty’ and are, in Amelia’s words, “highly sexualised”, does more harm than good for women’s rights. I have a problem with beauty pageants. And maybe that’s because I don’t understand them – I’ll take that criticism. I will say though, that, if the result of these pageants is that good work is done in the community and awareness is raised of the poor and downtrodden, then I’m all for it.

I get the sense that the 'women’s rights movement' is looking in the wrong direction on this one. Shouldn’t the feminist furore be directed at the exploitation of women for the purposes of beauty competitions? If women don’t want to be judged on their looks alone, then this would seem like a no-brainer to me. Sure, there are double standards when it comes to sex, but I don’t think it applies in this instance. Break an employment agreement, expect to have that employment terminated.

Anyway, I think I’ll leave it at that. What do you think of this issue? Was the Miss Great Britain organisation justified in firing Zara Holland? Or do you think there is a double standard at play here? What is your take on beauty pageants?



    To make a comment, please register or login
    23rd Jun 2016
    These contests normally have a strict set of rules about behaviour. Apparently the genY Miss Great Britain decided she was 'different'. What ever changes.
    23rd Jun 2016
    Break a signed contract - untrustworthy - dismissed -
    23rd Jun 2016
    Oh dear , how much money to be made now ? If Hollywood people make their name and money from these type of antics , this woman is doing the same .
    The lesson for her is to read & stick to the written contract ,
    fish head
    23rd Jun 2016
    You sign a contract you are stuck with its conditions no exceptions.It is a legal document.But I agree allowing her to enter the second competition being what it is, is a questionable decision.
    23rd Jun 2016
    Talking of exploiting women, which show is doing the most exploiting, each of us have a choice how we want to be exploited, but a contract is a contract, just saying

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