Back in the faraway mists of time, by which I mean summer 2019, I was introduced to Molly-Mae Hague. Not literally, of course. I watched her on Love Island, ITV2’s flagship reality show in which improbably gorgeous young folk fly to a Majorcan villa in the hopes of coupling up and finding lasting romance.
Molly-Mae was a bottle blonde with pneumatic lips and dazzling white veneers. She didn’t so much enter the villa as inject it with filler. She started a relationship with boxer Tommy Fury, made it to the final, and despite naysayers who claimed it was all for the cameras, the couple are happily still together.
When she left Love Island she displayed extraordinarily savvy business sense and monetised her new-found fame to the tune of a £500,000 collaboration with online retailer PrettyLittleThing. Recently, she negotiated a rumoured £1 million contract to launch her fifth clothing edit as its brand ambassador. This makes her one of Love Island’s most successful ever contestants – and she’s only 21.
But for me, perhaps a greater marker of her success has been her return to her natural self. For the past few months, Molly-Mae has been documenting her efforts to efface the cosmetic interventions she once thought she needed. Her first step was to dissolve her lip and jaw fillers, then get her composite bonds removed from her teeth. She also swapped her hair extensions for a shoulder-length bob.
Talking about her decisions on Instagram, she said, ‘I think I’ve taken all the steps I want
to take now in terms of reversing the mistakes I made with the fillers, getting things done I
didn’t need done and I didn’t think through at the time – about two or three years ago now.’
To put that into context, ‘two or three years ago’ would have meant Molly-Mae was 18 or 19 – a time when teenage girls often feel insecure about their looks. Her face, by her own admission, would not have fully matured.
‘It just wasn’t a necessary thing to do,’ she admitted, ‘and I was young. I think when you get older, you want to look younger and when you’re younger, you want to look older.’
She urged her younger followers to be cautious: ‘Take my advice and wait a good few years until your face has matured and then make decisions about cosmetic work.’
Molly-Mae goes from filler-filled…
These procedures aged Molly-Mae because they made her resemble every 40-something woman who has the same treatments in order to stave off time. Her natural beauty, when revealed, took years off her. She looks gorgeous.
You might think it’s exaggerating to call Molly-Mae’s actions brave. But I do think they showed a certain amount of courage. She had to take the risk that, by not conforming to the extreme beauty requirements of a social media influencer and reality TV star, she would lose followers and lucrative contracts. We live in a world where women face huge pressure to embody a certain look – plump lips, tattooed eyebrows, filled-out cheeks, Kardashian-esque contouring – designed for Instagram rather than real life.
But in lockdown, we’ve all acclimatised to what we look like without regular beauty treatments. My brows have grown out and I realise, to my surprise, that I quite like them without the three-weekly wax and tint. I have a smattering of greys. My nails haven’t had a gel manicure for longer than I can remember. And here’s the thing: just like Molly-Mae, I feel liberated by discovering my natural self is OK just as she is.
This week I’m…
With Aurelia Cell Repair Night Oil, made in England with all-organic ingredients.
The new series of Line of Duty on BBC One and iPlayer. Event television at its finest
Around in these sustainably made new-season beauties from Zara.