Sunday 25 August 2019

Ciara O'Connor: 'Maura Higgins has gone from mild embarrassment to bona fide national treasure in the space of a week'

Maura Higgins on ITV's Love Island
Maura Higgins on ITV's Love Island
Maura Higgins

Ciara O'Connor

Many moons ago, Love Island's pro ballroom dancer Curtisplained reality TV's theory of relativity to a newcomer: a week in Love Island is like a month "on the outside".

It is true time acquires a strangely protean quality in the Mallorcan villa: baby-oiled professional hotties go from the depths of tortured and hopeless romantic indecision in the morning to a fully committed choice of partner by lunchtime.

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So perhaps it isn't surprising our very own Maura Higgins has gone from mild embarrassment to bona fide national treasure in the space of but a week. Maura has enjoyed the kind of character arc an 800-page Tolstoy could only dream of. Maura is set to become not only 2019 Love Island's break-out star, but Ireland's too.

Maura was both a symbol of modern Irish femininity, loudly opinionated with sexual agency to spare; and a colonial parody of the savage native, uncivilised and promiscuous. Between her stolid hourly announcements of fanny flutters and licking an ice lolly, it was difficult to see how Maura would rehabilitate herself.

She won a competition where all the girls (dressed as playboy bunnies, obv) completed 'gym' challenges; Maura made light work of knocking back a disgusting mystery 'green juice' that had the English girls gagging. She appeared to bite off and consume an entire carrot in one go. As a reward, she was given a night in 'The Hideaway', a private room with a sexy/vile fur throw on a bigger-than-normal bed. She'd been smooching Tom, so he would be joining her.

She chatted excitedly with the girls saying she wasn't planning on having sex, she'd only kissed him "twice...OK, three times!"; he chatted excitedly with the boys; one high-fived him a condom.

As Maura came out to tell Tom to meet her in there, he told the boys it would be "interesting to see if she's all mouth". She overheard and Tom cockblocked himself not only for a night, but likely for the rest of his natural life. In that moment, standing resplendent in white and nude, quizzical eyebrow raised, coiled like a snake, asking Tom to repeat himself, Maura became a hero.

The potty-mouthed Longford girl proved herself formidably eloquent when a rambling, confused, contradictory Tom tried to justify himself. Maura was devastatingly clear, like Supernanny talking to a stubborn naughty child, except Supernanny has never said: "What did you expect me to do? Go in there and suck you off?"

Within a few minutes, Maura went from an amusing and kind of embarrassing sideshow, to the people's princess, the Virgin Mary of not-virgins. Maura spoke for every woman whose been spoken about "like a piece of shit". Her rage was our rage. We were all Maura Higgins.

Tom wheedled and grovelled. Tom made her coffee in the morning, Love Island code for "you own me". Tom was sweet and kind and affectionate. Maura forgave him. Almost immediately, Tom told Jordan that Maura, didn't "tick all his boxes". He found her loud, OTT, attention-seeking. He said she made him cringe. Then he got into bed with her and smooched.

Because this is Love Island, Maura got wind of Tom's misgivings. He flat out denied it. It was painful to watch our newly beloved, usually so forthright Maura doubt herself, and doubt the friends who had warned her.

When the truth inevitably came out, Maura let Tom have it: he was a prick and a coward. Then, she went inside with a couple of the girls and broke down in tears: the hairs on the back of our necks stood up, our breath caught in our throats and eyes prickled as Maura told us she'd been cheated on before: "I can't, I literally cannot bear someone lying straight to my face." It was the first time we'd seen such stark vulnerability from the bolshie 28-year-old, and it cemented her place as Ireland's sweetheart.

Biblical justice prevailed, tying the week up in a very satisfying bow. When Danny chose Arabella over Yewande last Monday, scorned Yewande's final prophetic words to him were, "what goes around comes around". And how. On Thursday, the islanders had to choose two people to leave: Arabella was dumped from the Island leaving Danny alone - and mere hours after Maura had told him she was done with him, Tom was punished for his hubris, sexism and hypocrisy and kicked out too. Maura lived to fight another day. Only this time, she has the whole country behind her.

*******

Look, before we get into this, let me just get one thing crystal clear: I love a pun. I love all puns, from the banal to the vulgar to the sublime.

It is because I am such a devotee, then, that I absolutely cannot excuse Kim Kardashian's new Spanx-y business venture: "Kimono Solutionwear" which is being defended against accusations of cultural appropriation because it's 'wordplay': Kim-ono. As in, she saw a word and noticed her name was in it and so, disregarding centuries of Japanese culture and tradition as well as more recent Japanese-American collective trauma from internment camps, she decided to slap it on her new range of anti-kimono human sausage skins.

It is one thing to be consistently blithely appropriative, it is another to be consistently blithely appropriative and then pretend it's in service of a pun. That is both an insult to Japan and to the English language, and is inexcusable. Japanese people of the internet were annoyed at being forced to be angry, which actually meant such plaintively polite tweets as, "I feel your passion and love on your new project. However, I'm afraid the inappropriate naming might deteriorate our traditional 'kimono' culture. To make your project go well, I'm wondering if you have any chances to change the name since it has nothing to do with our culture."

I have some suggestions less likely to alienate 128 million people:

Kimberlite - an intrusive igneous rock generated at great depth in the Earth's mantle. It can contain diamonds. Kim Kardashian herself likely also contains diamonds!

Kimzha - a river in Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia; the image of a rushing river works in stark contrast to the immobilising horror of control knickers. Hilarious!

Akimbo - because you may sit as such wearing her new shape wear and have no fear of flashing your bits. Kim-spread away, ladies!

Kimblewick - A type of bit for a horse, that looks about as uncomfortable (and strangely kinky) as a full spandex bodysuit.

Indeed, Kim has attempted to copyright 'Kimono' for leather products such as wallets, dog harnesses and whips. It's perfect!

Just for God's sake, stay away from Kimchi.

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