Zara McDermott reveals being the victim of revenge porn felt like sexual assault as she discusses sexting, trolls and cosmetic surgery

The Love Island star has spoken about everything from her social media presence to her experience with cosmetic surgery as she reveals what life’s been like more than six months since leaving the villa

THEY were the surprise love story to emerge from the most famous villa in Majorca last summer. While their fellow Love Island couples are splitting up left, right and centre, Zara McDermott and reformed love rat Adam Collard are still going strong.

They hooked up on the show and after a bit of a blip (which involved Adam, 23, kissing new Islander Darylle Sargeant following Zara’s departure), they admitted they’d fallen head over heels and have been smitten ever since.

“We just have really good chemistry,” Zara says today. “I’ve brought out an emotional side to him that he didn’t realise he had and that’s what makes it really special. And I now realise what it feels like to be in an actual relationship.

“It’s so healthy that we both have our own space and it’s not intense. We don’t argue a lot, it’s just nice.”

After giving up her job as a policy advisor for the Department of Education, Zara, 21, can now command big money for her work as a social media influencer and she also has a new 50-piece fashion collection with clothing brand Lasula. But life hasn’t always been plain sailing.

She’s twice been the victim of revenge porn and admits that she’s found adjusting to life in the limelight a struggle at times, as we discovered when we sat down with her for a very honest chat…

Zara, do you have any regrets about going on Love Island?

Yeah, of course, I do struggle. I’ve never been the kind of person who has wanted the attention on me. To be the focus, I still find that difficult. So it’s not so much the show, it’s more what’s come after.

How do you feel when you watch episodes back?

For the whole of the UK to have the perception that I’m boring, I’ve got no personality, no dimension to me and I don’t say anything, when in reality I’m actually the exact opposite, it is frustrating.

People were like: “OMG, Zara is so boring,” and it’s like: “Do you really think Adam Collard would be with me if he thought I was boring? The Adam Collard who nobody can tame?” Like, obviously not. I have something to me.

Do you have complete trust in him?

Yes, absolutely. While he was on tour by himself – he did 77 personal appearances after coming off the island – he said he was feeling almost depressed about it. Imagine having absolutely nobody, being all over the country, driving everywhere and with no sleep.

He was so exhausted, both emotionally and physically. I think he should speak about it more openly to show that it’s OK for somebody with such a tough exterior to not be OK sometimes.

You were the victim of revenge porn when an ex-partner leaked pictures of you while you were in the villa. How did that make you feel?

If I’m completely honest, because of the person, I wasn’t shocked. I anticipated it. I’m angry at him thinking it’s OK to share that footage of someone. It should be [viewed] on a similar level to sexual assault.

It’s a violation. The violation of another human being’s body for your own gratification. It’s not physical, it’s virtual, but it can give similar feelings. I would love to be able to do some work on that in the future.

What can be done about it, do you think?

We’re never going to stop people sending pictures. It’s a modern day way of having sex. Police should be going into schools and having talks because when it [also] happened to me when I was 14, I had a police officer sit me down and tell me: “You shouldn’t send these pictures, you’re creating child pornography. You’re in the wrong.”

Why didn’t he just go and talk to the boy who sent it round?

This boy wasn’t your boyfriend, was he?

No, but I really liked him. I wanted to impress him, and it was the new culture, everyone was sending pictures. But I was the only one that felt the repercussions of it.

What would your advice be to teenage girls now?

I find that a really difficult question to answer. First of all, we should be teaching safe sex and safe sexting. Making sure you’re not identifiable in the picture, making sure there’s no evidence in the background and making sure it is not too X-rated.

I could easily say to someone: “Don’t do it,” but it will go in one ear and out the other. If you’re going to do it, de-personalise it and make sure it’s unrecognisable as you.

How did the experience affect you?

I definitely feel like it’s damaged me deep down. I definitely think it is something that is going to stay with me forever.

Since leaving the villa, you found yourself in trouble after rapping to Chris Brown’s Look At Me Now, including the N word…

That really upset me. I was rapping from memory and not thinking about what the words were. It’s a terrible, terrible word and I believe nobody should use it, regardless. If people don’t want it to be sung, maybe we should remove it from all songs?

I still get called racist every single day and I’m not. I’m best friends with [fellow Love Islander] Samira Mighty. I’ve got loads of friends of different ethnicities; it doesn’t make any difference to me.

How did you feel being one of the few surgery-free women on Love Island?

Aesthetically, I don’t think I look like the typical reality TV star. I’m all about being natural. I love the idea of just being myself. If you are self-conscious about something and you want to change it, change it. But before that,you should try and be comfortable in yourself as much as you can.

So why did you decide to have jaw filler towards the end of last year?

I had a little dip on one side of my chin – I wouldn’t say a deformity, but the fat obviously didn’t fill up on that side of my face, so I got a tiny bit of filler to even it out. I never wanted to enhance anything or make anything look unnatural. And it has really made a lot of difference to my confidence. In what way?

Now I’m getting photographed so much, I just wanted to feel fine on both sides of my face. It’s just like a cosmetic enhancement. I wouldn’t ever get surgery.

Can you still call yourself an advocate for being natural?

Yeah, absolutely. That’s all I’ve [had done]. It was just something small but it has made a lot of difference to me. I still think being natural is powerful.

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