“I just think if a boy was the equivalent – a ‘Mr Great Britain’ – would he have really have had his title taken away from him?” Zara told RadioTimes.com today. “Because there hasn’t been anything in the press about Alex, it was all just about me. It was all just Zara. It takes two to Tango.
“Hand on my heart, I do think it’s different standards. It’s hard to answer because Alex isn’t the equivalent – a ‘Mr GB’ – but I think it’s very interesting. Very, very interesting.”
Miss Great Britain justified its actions by saying it couldn’t “promote Zara as a positive role model” adding that she “simply did not uphold the responsibility expected of the title”.
As for whether Zara thinks she’s damaged her status as a role model, she said:
“I know people look up to you as a role model. But the support I’ve had on Twitter, the majority of it is people saying you’re more of a real model now because we can relate to you. Who hasn’t made a mistake in their life? I haven’t committed a crime, hurt anyone or bullied anyone.”
Zara added that she had been a “million per cent” proud to be part of an organisation that had seemed to have moved on from the old-fashioned ways of beauty pageants and that this is a huge knock back. They’d given her permission to apply for the show and, as far as she’s concerned, this came with no rules of what she could or couldn’t do on camera.
“Beauty pageants were very different fifty years ago, let’s say. It was judged on how you looked as a person. Now they’re promoting you as a person, your personality, your charity work, promoting a healthy lifestyle and promoting a role model in a modern society where girls can, yes, look up to you. I just feel like we’re in 2016 now, every 20-year-old makes mistakes.
“This is a massive shock, I felt like I was part of something that had moved forward.”
Going on to quote Sophie Gradon’s speech from inside the villa (she is herself a former Miss GB), Zara laughed: “Women like to have sex…. I just shouldn’t have done it on national TV.”
One of Zara’s biggest gripes is that she found out about her de-throning after the public as the organisation made an unexpected announcement on Twitter during the show’s broadcast. Neither Love Island nor Zara’s family were made aware beforehand; Zara herself was pulled to one side and had the statement read to her off camera.
“Maybe if they’d just rang me first and sat me down face-to-face. I thought we had a really strong relationship. I thought the girls were great at Miss GB. But everyone found out before me and everyone got an opinion before I got to speak. It’s horrible that everyone knew before me. It’s really hard, it’s really upsetting.”
Zara said the organisation has now tried to get in contact with her (having since put the runner-up in the Miss GB role) but she is yet to respond.
“Right now everything’s just so raw.”
The now ‘former Miss GB’ says she’s “mortified” not to hold the title anymore – “It meant the world to me, that was my life, it meant everything” – and remains “upset and hurt by the whole thing”.
“I wish it never happened – I still want to be Miss Great Britain… I was so proud to have that title and I’d worked so, so hard for it. I definitely think I’m the hardest working Miss GB they’ll ever have.”
For now, Zara says she’s got some making up to do.
“I let my family down, but I’m sorry and I will continue to say sorry. But that’s in the past now. At some point I’m going to move on, which I don’t want to do.”
Emma is RadioTimes.com’s resident reality TV expert and is most likely to be found chasing Simon Cowell down the street, cancelling her social life to keep up with the latest batch of sob stories and trying to get selfies with celebrities. Emma is a chat show addict and quotes Friends more than is probably healthy.