- “Love Island” star Sharon Gaffka told Insider that the trolling she receives is “on steroids.”
- She said that she received so many abusive messages because she is a mixed-race woman.
- She added that ITV has been helpful but young people need to be better educated to solve the problem.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
“Love Island” star Sharon Gaffka told Insider that she gets a lot more abusive messages because she is a mixed-race woman.
The 25-year-old civil servant appeared on the seventh season of the hit UK dating show. Whilst she praised broadcaster ITV’s support after she was knocked out of the show, she said there’s only so much its welfare team can do to help.
“I do find that as a woman and a mixed-race woman as well, I find that my trolling is on steroids,” Gaffka said. “It’s not based on actions of me on the show but based on my appearance.”
Gaffka told Insider that she also received abuse for being perceived as a “big girl” compared to the other female contestants.
She said: “I don’t consider myself a big girl, I am a size 8 but I think that because of the lack of body diversity, I looked like I was the big girl of the villa and I got a lot of comments and trolling based on the fact that I was the big girl of the villa even though I don’t consider myself that. I just have a different body shape.”
The 25-year-old civil servant told Insider she believes that the trolling was a result of “a lack of education.”
“If I look at a general survey of my trolls, a lot of them are very young, 19 downwards,” Gaffka said, “At that age, I was spending my summer holidays playing football in a park so why do they feel the need to send someone almost double their age a really abusive message telling them to kill themselves when they should be enjoying their summer.”
Gaffka is not the only contestant on “Love Island” to receive abusive messages from trolls. The families of Chloe Burrows, Toby Aromolaran, Faye Winter, and Liam Reardon have all released statements on Instagram asking fans to stop sending hate to their Instagram accounts. ITV released a statement in June urging fans to be kind on social media following the first complaint about abusive messages by Burrows’ family.
Two previous contestants, Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis, as well as the original “Love Island” presenter Caroline Flack have committed suicide. The three stars all dealt with negative media attention before their deaths.
In response to the deaths, ITV changed their aftercare process in order to help future contestants on the show. Gaffka told Insider that she “couldn’t fault ITV’s team” explaining that she had frequent contact with their welfare team and received social media training before leaving the villa.