When "Love Island" OG Hannah Elizabeth strutted into the villa arm-in-arm with Liberty Poole at the start of this January's All Stars series declaring, "We're like the Paris Hilton and the Barbie of the villa" I knew she was the breath of fresh air the dating show desperately needed. Hannah's charismatic personality lit up the screen during her first appearance as an Islander back in 2015, and her second stint has been no different. When you think of iconic "Love Island" moments, her chaotic engagement to Jon Clark on-screen is one of the greats. However, as the reality series continues to unfold, imagine my horror watching the online age-shaming dominating 33-year-old Hannah's narrative on the show.
After expressing my admiration for Hannah on X (formerly Twitter), I was met with a shocking response. One user replied, "The reality is no man in the villa wants her because she's 33 and a single mum. Why would any of the guys pick her when there's better alternatives in the villa which are younger women with no kids? Lol." God forbid a woman over 30 with kids is open to finding love.
Unfortunately, age-shaming, particularly directed towards women, is still an overriding narrative (yes, even in 2024) due to societal pressures and stereotypes surrounding age and beauty. There is often emphasis on the importance of youth, especially with the prominence of social media, which only creates unrealistic expectations and contributes to the harmful stigma surrounding ageing.
God forbid a woman over 30 with kids is open to finding love.
The unfair discrimination Hannah is receiving online is growing by the day, and it's awful to watch. Viewers of the hit-dating show are fixated on her age, appearance, and the fact she has a 4-year-old son. To some, all of her other qualities are diminished just because she doesn't fit in the age bracket of the typical 20-something Islander. What some viewers are failing to remember is that this All Star version of the show deviates from the typical format and pool of Islanders. The "Love Island All Stars" tagline is literally "Who will be back for Amore?" This version is all about getting that second chance, which opens the age bracket much wider. Surely, this should be embraced?
Many viewers are also reinforcing the idea that Hannah is unworthy of love because she's a single mother. This just stems from outdated stereotypes and judgemental perspectives. Some people clearly hold biases or misconceptions about single mothers, wrongly assuming that their relationship status reflects on their capabilities or their worth.
Another series one Islander, 29-year-old Luis Morrison, had a brief stint in the All Star's villa before being brutally dumped a few days in. Hannah and Luis share some similarities, including the fact that they are both single parents. Yet the key difference is that Hannah is a woman – and the double standards are crystal clear. While viewers of the show mentioned Luis' two kids, at no point was his worthiness of a romantic connection linked to being a single parent. As his relationship with 25-year-old Demi Jones blossomed, there wasn't nearly as much backlash - some people even shipped them.
Fellow Islander Chris Taylor is 33 years-old and has had multiple love interests in the villa, but no one online has made his age a talking point. Meanwhile, when Hannah began exploring her options with bombshell Tyler Cruickshank, viewers have suggested that his interest in her couldn't possibly be genuine. In their eyes, Hannah couldn't possibly be pursued romantically because she doesn't fit society's view of a desirable single woman.
These views are harmful and it's important to challenge these stereotypes and recognise the strength and resilience of single mothers who are seeking love whilst balancing various responsibilities. If we've learnt anything about the success of last year's ITV debut, "My Mum, Your Dad", where teens aided their parents in finding love again, it's that the world wants to see people find love, despite their age or background.
Stacey Thompson, Relationship Expert and founder of dating community Reddi, explains that beyond the show, there is a more positive outlook on intergenerational love. "As a solo IVF mum of 44, I am very much still looking for romance - love is ageless after all," Thompson tells POPSUGAR. "The age-shaming of Hannah, in my opinion, comes from a very small number of people. Because more so than ever, people are embracing intergenerational love."
Just look at the likes of Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds who have an 11-year age gap. Or the 20-year age gap between Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Jason Statham. "We are seeing a wave of ageless romances with couples breaking free from society norms, people are simply more focused on connection and compatibility rather than arbitrary numbers," Thompson adds. "Sadly, "Love Island" has historically always recruited those deemed as 'younger' and by default lack any form of 'baggage' – however, it has been refreshing to see that through All Stars many have returned with so much more life experience, including Hannah who has a young son. This enables viewers to see a more mature Islander which can only be something positive."
As women, we really need to rally together and stamp out this harmful rhetoric as these unfair beauty standards disproportionately affect us.
Hannah's appearance has also been torn to shreds online, yet she had been pretty candid about her surgery on-screen. The Islanders' honest approach to surgery should be praised - it's her prerogative if she wants to have surgery and she owns every bit of it. At a time where reality stars are opening up more about beauty standards, having an Islander on screen who champions this honest approach shouldn't be condemned.
As I dissected the criticism of Hannah in more detail online, I also noticed that it's not just men promoting these harmful narratives. Sadly, I've also seen women reinforcing ageism, body-shaming, and even mum-shaming, which is deeply disappointing. As women, we really need to rally together and stamp out this harmful rhetoric as these unfair beauty standards disproportionately affect us.
As a society we need to be vigilant in challenging these double standards – Hannah deserves the same grace as the other Islanders. If anyone deserves a second chance at love it's the OG Liverpudlian and we want nothing more than to see her succeed.