Coco Lodge: ‘I think I’m the most trolled Love Islander for how I look’

When Coco Lodge decided to go on Love Island, she knew she was going to be judged on her behaviour. But what she did not expect was the level of trolling and cruel comments she received about her appearance.

The 28-year-old graphic designer, who entered the ITV show as a Casa Amor bombshell last year, spent several months reckoning with her time in the Mallorca villa.

“I’m probably one of the worst trolled islanders they’ve ever had, and I think I’m the most trolled for how I looked,” she told the Guardian ahead of the show’s new season launch on Monday.

“There were TikToks comparing me to certain cartoon characters or that footballer Jonjo Shelvey. Really evil videos and tweets about my nose, how I was the ugliest Love Island contestant ever.”

For a short time, Lodge felt OK. Her busy new life distracted her from the underlying pain. She was invited to premieres, festivals, brand trips and holidays. But then, inevitably, things began to calm down. “That’s when I got really sad. I went through quite a difficult time processing everything that I’d pushed under the mat.”

During her 12-day stint on the show, Lodge sparked controversy when she found herself in a love triangle with fellow contestants Andrew Le Page and Tasha Ghouri.

In a now-infamous series of scenes, Lodge informed Ghouri that her and Le Page’s relationship was more intimate than he had led Ghouri to believe. When confronted, Le Page told Ghouri: “Yeah I licked her tit, or whatever.” He recoupled with Ghouri, and Lodge was dumped from the villa.

“People perceived me to be a villain because I stole someone’s man,” Lodge said. “It’s misogynistic, because no one had those feelings towards Andrew. I didn’t have a man; he’s the one who had a girl. But I guess because I looked like I was confident I seemed more like a villain”.

But in reality, Lodge added, many scenes that spoke to her true character were left out by producers. “They cut out a lot of scenes of me crying and being upset because I didn’t have any friends.

“The producers kind of know how they want the show to go. They know they need to get people evicted, so they’ve got to have Islanders who come across a lot worse than maybe they are. If they actually showed 24 hours of the day you would just see me crying because that’s all I did.”

Looking back at it now, Lodge said, it would have been helpful if she were given a saving grace moment. “They even showed me shaving my arms. I’m Italian, I have hair, whatever. But if you’ve seen the comments, where people were saying I was ugly and like a man, and you’re still showing that clip, to me you’re trying to fuel those comments.

“But I know at the end of the day they’re producing a TV show, so you kind of sign away that right to complain about what they show.”

When Lodge left the villa, she had a call with the press team about what was being written about her, but she claims no one warned her of the extent of the negative reaction.

“You get one phone call when you come out of the villa, and I spoke to my mum. She sounded so traumatised. I got my phone back at the airport, and saw all this stuff and just started crying.”

She realised how her family and friends had been affected too. Her dad had made several calls to producers while she was on the show to ask that they better represent his daughter. “I think mainly because he was like, ‘she’s not even acting like herself’.”

This year, ITV has introduced new safeguarding measures including a requirement that all contestants keep their social media accounts dormant to protect them from “adverse effects”. Contestants also receive guidance and training on “mutually respectful behaviour in relationships”.

The show’s duty of care has been under the spotlight after the deaths of previous contestants Sophie Gradon in 2018 and Mike Thalassitis in 2019, as well as that of former host Caroline Flack in 2020. In recent years, Love Island bosses have offered contestants a minimum of eight therapy sessions after their time on the show.

Lodge said she did not regret going on Love Island, but wished she had enjoyed it more because it was a “once-in-a-lifetime experience”.

“But let’s be honest, everyone’s on there not for love but for the opportunities they can get after. So it just becomes a really salty, competitive environment. I felt like none of the other cast wanted me there.”

For a while, she said going on Love Island was actually detrimental to her love life, after it triggered past traumas. “I didn’t date for six months. I really needed to spend time on my own and work on myself.”

She advised others to go on the show if they were “doing it just for a life experience and to have fun” but emphasised that they would need to have a thick skin to deal with any backlash.

“I’m happy to have gone through it because I now genuinely think no one could say anything that would hurt me. I’ve heard the worst things about myself.”


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