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Gemma Collins TOWIE @loveofhuns

How @loveofhuns defines and champions the iconic British hun

In a year like 2020, this Instagram account was a salve, a prism for understanding the world, and a reminder to live, laugh, love through the most gorj and glam elements of British culture x

This year has been an endurance test defined by Tier drops, Zoom boredom, and lockdown listlessness. But even on our darkest days, one glitzy crevice of the internet has always been there to cheer us up: @loveofhuns. This consistently warm and witty Instagram account has captured our mood and provided welcome distraction by slicing up clips of British pop culture: Nikki Grahame's epic Big Brother meltdowns, Alison Hammond’s homage to Kylie’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head”, a simple shot of Sharon from EastEnders, wearing a beret, with the caption: “Me, a French citizen, after ordering a latte from Pret. Bon jaw x”. If you don't have a chirpy friend who says things like “Prosecco will take your mind off the Panny D!”, @loveofhuns has stepped into that role.

The account is clearly the product of a brilliant and very British imagination, but the owner wishes to remain anonymous. “The account was started in 2017 during a very hungover afternoon of watching back-to-back Big Brother best bits videos on YouTube,” they tell me cryptically over email. “At first it was just Instagram posts for close friends who also shared a love of huns to enjoy, but now it’s grown to more than 350,000 followers.” The @loveofhun’s creator says a watershed moment came when one of their favourite huns, Natalia Cassidy (Sonia from EastEnders), followed them back. “The moment that happened, I was ready to clock off early, pour myself a 'secco, (and say) ‘my job here is done’.”

This year, @loveofhuns has also started to attract the sort of celebrity engagement that most corporate accounts could only dream of. Model and activist Munroe Bergdorf, DJ and producer Jodie Harsh, and TV presenters Angellica Bell and Clara Amfo regularly comment on posts. Despite what may seem like niche content, it’s gone transatlantic too. When @loveofhuns shared a clip of Gemma Collins educating her Big Brother housemate Tiffany Pollard on the importance of offering to make tea and coffee – “It’s like saying, ‘Can I give you a grand?’” – Katy Perry replied playfully: “Never leave the bag in, babes”.

TV presenter AJ Odudu says she became a @loveofhuns fan after its posts began to dominate her girlfriends' group chat. "I enjoy it so much because it’s the fun light relief we all need on social media, especially this year when social media has been so heavy and negative at times,” she says. “It’s just such an uplifting platform. Yes, it takes the mick, but it’s always done in jest and (with) self-deprecation. It’s classic British humour.” 

“It’s more a question of lifestyle and behaviour – hun status matures like a fine Echo Falls wine” – @loveofhuns 

Rebecca More, one half of porn stars-turned-queer icons the Cock Destroyers and co-host of Slag Wars, points out that @loveofhuns allows us to decompress whenever we need to throughout the day. “At the moment most of us are on the internet either working or checking out the latest news, so it’s always good to have a funny distraction like @loveofhuns to keep a smile on our face,” she says. Indeed, this has felt ever more important when we’ve been in various stages of lockdown. The @loveofhuns account has become a prism through which we can channel our frustrations at the pandemic, politics, and society, providing laughs and comfort in a time punctuated by anxiety and fear. One recent post illustrates the UK’s tiering systems with the changing Sugababes line-ups – Keisha Buchanan replies in the comments: “feel complimented and shaded all in one 😂😂”.

Explaining precisely what makes a “hun” is incredibly difficult, as I discovered when I forwarded a @loveofhuns post to my mum and received the stony-faced response: "What is a hun?" In her definitive 2018 hunuscript, VICE’s Hannah Ewens observes that hun culture evolved from the brasher "ladette" phenomenon of the '90s. “Pints were swapped for prosecco,” she writes. “Not giving a fuck turned into pretending to not give a fuck while crying over everything”. More recently, writer Harrison Brocklehurst has offered this stunning definition: “A hun is the set menu in All Bar One; she is the whisper on the wind telling you to order a pitcher of Pornstar Martini to yourself.”

Still, the most accurate response to “what is a hun?” is probably a shoulder shrug followed by a nonchalant “when you know, you know”. Which, of course, is exactly what a hun would say. A hun can be a grand, self-described diva like Gemma Collins, or a down-to-earth woman-of-the-people like Alison Hammond. A hun can be posh – Nigella Lawson performatively and with astute self awareness saying “Meekro Wahvé”, is one recent, glorious example – but many are women from working-class or lower-middle-class backgrounds. A man can be a hun, but probably only if he's gay (John Barrowman), a bit camp (Ainsley Harriott), or an EastEnders alumnus (Dean Gaffney). It’s also important to note that hun status can be fleeting: cheeky Spice Girls-era Vicky B is definitely a hun, but serious fashion designer Victoria Beckham probably isn’t. If your mum isn't a hun, one of the female friends she made you call ‘Auntie’ will be – probably the one who slipped you a crisp tenner for ‘drinkies’ the day you turned 18.

The creator of @loveofhuns acknowledges that there’s no checklist for acquiring hun status. “It’s more a question of lifestyle and behaviour – hun status matures like a fine Echo Falls wine.” 

Charity Shop Sue, a regular on the @loveofhuns grid, says: “A hun is a person who knows what they want, is kind and caring, but isn’t afraid to call people out on their bullshit.” She also recalls, rather poignantly, the first hun she ever met. “It was in the gals’ toilets of a club in Notts,” she says. “She was a very glam lady with tears In her eyes. She was about to dump her deadbeat boyfriend who she’d just found out was cheating on her. I said I would have her back and come with her to support. We grabbed a Babycham from the bar and she walked over to him and told him it was over before throwing the sweet wine in his face. We left the club and had chips on the way home.”

Because hun appreciation generally celebrates a certain type of woman, it risks curdling into a thinly veiled form of classism and misogyny. Other, more risqué accounts can sometimes walk a fine line between sex-positivity and slut-shaming, but @loveofhuns never puts a foot wrong. “I can only speak for myself, hunni, but the clue’s in the title – we love the huns,” the creator says. “It’s inclusive: if we’re laughing, then we’re laughing along with our fellow huns, not at them. I think the key is keeping it current and reading the room. And I always remember that the featured huns are in the room with us.”

This is no allegory. In addition to Natalie Cassidy, God-tier huns including Gemma Collins, Alison Hammond, and Alexandra Burke now follow the account. Rebecca More says being featured on @loveofhuns has become a badge of honour. “Anyone who knows me knows I love a bit of humour in my life. The first time it happened, I laughed and everyone kept sending it to me, so I loved it,” she says. Charity Shop Sue adds that it makes her feel “fantastic” whenever she sees herself on the grid. “There are some very iconic gals on there,” she says. “Yeah, they have flaws but they don’t hide them. They are lovely humans with big hearts.”

At this point, a @loveofhuns feature is a real achievement – a sign you’ve “earned your divaship”, as Gemma Collins would say. “If I ever made it to the @loveofhuns page it would be iconic – I’d have to repost it immediately!” AJ Odudu says. 

Charity Shop Sue warns that willpower alone won't make you into a hun. “I’d say you can’t choose the hun life; the hun life chooses you,” she says cautiously. “But to ignite that flame I’d go out there and get one of them wardrobe stencils that say: ‘Live, Laugh, Love.’” In the meantime, @loveofhuns’ creator reassures that there are no plans to pause the account any time soon, saying: “We won’t stop until Netflix commissions a @loveofhuns chat show. Make it happen, Netflix!” With that, I’ll sign this article off with the hun farewell, a singular kiss. Bye gorj – X.