Eyal Booker on Maura Higgins, fast fashion and an LGBTQ+ Love Island
Eyal Booker was catapulted into fame last year after taking part in the phenomenon that is Love Island, the ITV2 reality show that's become beloved all over the world.
The 23-year-old appeared on Celebs Go Dating after his stint in the Spanish villa, and definitely knows his stuff when it comes to reality TV romance.
We caught up with the model and TV star at the launch of a massively-exciting essence lip collection. Their Lip Saviours range features 52 fabulous products including lipsticks, lipglosses, lipliners and liquid lipsticks.
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Eyal Booker is representing the ground-breaking beauty brand, which sponsors both Love Island on Virgin Media player as well as the biggest pageant in the country; Miss Ireland 2019.
Of course, we simply had to ask him his opinions on our Irish exports, namely Longford lass Maura Higgins.
Luckily for us, he's a big fan;
“I love the Irish contestants, I love Maura. I just loved her from the start. I think that the way she’s entered the villa, the way that she’s held herself, the things she comes out with; I think she’s a powerful, independent woman who’s proud of who she is and stands up for what she believes in and says what she wants. I think that that’s really inspiring for young women out there, and she’s a good influence and good person to have within the public eye and society”.
“She’s going to have a good career. At first, it took a little time to get used to her but now we can’t get enough of her. She’s contagious and just says it how it is. That goes a long way in this show.”
The latest controversy to shake the villa is, of course, the meltdown between Anna Vakili and Jordan Hames.
The model asked Anna to be his girlfriend only days ago, yet pulled India Reynolds aside for a chat (on Curtis' advice) to confess his feelings for her, while Anna was only metres away.
What does Eyal think was going through his head? The pair were dumped from the villa last night, but were they authentic?
“I don’t know where that’s come from (Jordan’s feelings for India), I don’t know what Jordan was thinking. They’ve screwed each other over within the process, you know when Anna left him for Ovie and then came back to him and now Jordan’s about to do the same. As much as they’re trying to make us believe their relationship, I don’t buy the reasons that they’re in the villa. I just think they want to be genuine but they’re actually just not that into each other.”
Dramatic doesn't even begin to cover Anna and Jordan's showdown… #LoveIsland pic.twitter.com/N4X2IR7Jus
— Love Island (@LoveIsland) July 24, 2019
ITV bosses have faced numerous accusations that the reality show is a 'fix', with claims made against the honesty of each character.
In Eyal's time in the villa, he denies that the show every forced anyone into a certain narrative of hero or villain, womaniser or gentleman;
“They don’t try and create something that’s not there. They highlight some things over others, in terms of the edit. I wasn’t just this spiritual, tree-hugging guy but that’s a lot of what I was made out to be. You can’t all be the same, and they edit everyone a different way. There’s no one there saying ‘You should do this’ or ‘You should do that’.”
Other criticisms made against the show involve the noteworthy emphasis on physique and appearance. Does Eyal think the show has contributed to the continued popularity of beauty pageants like Miss Ireland?
“Pageants have always been popular and I think with social media and the world that we live in, they can grow even quicker and bigger because there’s accessibility to a wider audience. I think Love Island showcases the fact that it can reach such a vast and big audience. It encourages other people to get on social media and get on platforms and use that platform in order to further themselves."
Yesterday I was lucky enough to visit Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice to start my association with them. I’ve grown up knowing the ethos of the charity as my dad has been heavily involved since it opened. It’s an amazing place and I’m so happy that they are my chosen charity
Amy Hart recently posted an Instagram snap of a charity who she works with closely, but trolls commented that the image was 'boring'. Social media presence is a huge part of Love Island stars' careers when many of them leave, but do they control who they work with and their brand?
According to Eyal; “We have complete control. When I came out of the villa, I got a management because I needed to manage everything that was going on. They try and guide you in a direction that they see fit for you but also a direction that you see fit for yourself. It’s just a discussion that you have. We have incredible platforms when we come out, and I think charity is a big thing on people’s minds and people want to use their platform for good as well. It’s something that a lot of people go into and become ambassadors for because, as much as you’re reaping the rewards of having such a huge platform and getting all of these brand deals, you also want to give back to people in less fortunate positions."
He continued; "Charity is a nice thing to do, I’ve always worked with them but now I’m doing on them on a bigger scale because I’ve got a bigger audience.”
“I work with World Vision, very closely. I’m an ambassador for them, and I also work with the RSPCA and Dog’s Trust. I’ve always loved animals, all animals, and animal welfare. World Vision is to do with young children and their families in areas of conflict or disaster, and it’s about sending emergency response and helping them further themselves. Children are the future, they’re the generation who are going to shape our world and who are going to be here when we’re not. Providing them with the best possible tools in order to have the best and brightest future is essential for our world to get better and better.”
Another problematic aspect of the show, arguably, is their continuous sponsorship from fast fashion brands. The stars wear different ensembles every day in the villa, with companies like I Saw It First working with the reality show.
I love Love Island, I just do, (call me a sucker for a fairytale in a thong) but I hate its sponsorship & promotion of fast, throwaway fashion – which surely can’t have been made by people paid enough or treated… https://t.co/R1zEKyk8w8
— Aisling Bea (@WeeMissBea) July 11, 2019
Once the Islanders leave the villa, many of them will work with branding constantly, showing a materialistic lifestyle via their social platforms. Does Eyal see an issue with this side of Love Island life?
“It’s an interesting one, I actually hadn’t heard that until now. I think there’s two sides to this story. I think that everyone’s individual style and fashion showcases the fact that you can self-express and be who you want to be, and dress and wear what you want to wear. I think fast fashion is affordable for people, but at the same time, fast fashion is one of the biggest polluters of our environment. It contributes to huge amount of emissions and pollution and adds to climate change."
He continues; "It’s one of those things where we want instant gratification and we want to be able to purchase all the things that we want for a low price but we don’t really see at which cost we’re getting them at and how detrimental it is to our environment. I’m in a Catch 22 about that one, I work with some fast fashion brands and I would like to think I’m an environmentalist and I care about our planet. I think there’s a balance that we can find within it. Although fast fashion, although it’s been around for a while, it has only just come into play and become as popular as it is. It’s about us starting to regulate that and coming on board with how we as a society consume things and over-consume things.”
“Through omnipresent product placements and advertising, #LoveIsland has turned into fast fashion’s biggest advocate.” https://t.co/5I3HBXVln7
— Public Myth (@PublicMyth) July 18, 2019
Does he do his homework on the brands that he associates with, when it comes to ethics?
“essence is cruelty-free which is part of the reason I’m at this event. I couldn’t be an ambassador for, let’s say the RSPCA who campaign against animal testing, and then a brand who test on animals. We’re only human and we make mistakes, we overlook things, but we try as hard as we can to highlight the things that align with me and then we go from there.”
The show is undeniably heteronormative, and excludes the majority of the population.
"The fact that it would be such a big deal is testament to the fact of how far we’ve got to go." https://t.co/oV0USsKTYs
— PinkNews (@PinkNews) July 23, 2019
With Love Island spreading Stateside and now to South Africa for the winter edition, does he think these expansion moves could mean an LGBTQ+ version could be in the pipeline soon?
“I think it would take some time for people to catch on to. I’ve grown up within an entertainment, performing world, I don’t differentiate between anyone; your sex, the colour of your skin, your appearance; whatever you are, you are. But I think we, as a society, whether we like it or not are still evolving and still changing and becoming aware of the LGBTQ+ community. I think as much as I’d like to say that there’d be no stigmas attached and no judgements, if we see what judgements come from Love Island and how much stick people can get as heterosexuals, then we have to be realistic at what the response would be. I think that that’s the way it’s going to go, and eventually there will be all kinds of shows for all kinds of people, but we have to ease it in slowly.”
Feature image: Instagram/@eyalbooker