Sharon says she “felt like the diversity card” at the 2021 Love Island villa
Love Island 2021 contestant Sharon Gaffka said she sometimes felt like the ‘diversity card’ while staying at the villa.
In an interview with The Tab, Sharon, who entered the villa on day one and was dumped after three weeks, said she was part of un-broadcast conversations about race, sexuality and disability.
Speculating on why scenes may have been cut, Sharon says she thinks some may have been because they referenced dating apps, and Tinder is a sponsor of Love Island.
She believes that in addition to producers’ efforts to present diverse programming, the show must also ensure that islanders are drawn to a wide range of different people – if not “what’s the point?” Says Sharon.
Love Island bosses have previously said the show is about “the couple of boys and girls,” and having gay islanders would be a “logistical difficulty.” The show has also been criticized for its lack of body diversity, with a poll of 6,000 Tab readers that found 83% think Love Island is not diverse enough.
“It’s very hard because your race is very fetishized”
Sharon says one of the first serious conversations she had in the villa was about race – but it was cut off. She remembers sitting on the swings with Kaz and some of the boys, telling The Tab, “We were talking as a mixed race woman, as an Asian woman and as a black woman about how hard it is to date someone. a, if you are using dating. applications for example.
“Sometimes, especially in a heterosexual environment, it’s very difficult because your race is very fetishized, especially because of modern pornography. Interracial pornography and Asian pornography are very hypersexualized and fetishized. “
Sharon says she and Kaz talked a lot about the horrible things people said to them in dating and on apps, but those conversations didn’t air either.
Obviously, the islanders are in the villa around the clock for eight whole weeks – we all know not all conversations can be aired in an hour-long episode.
Speculating on why these scenes might have been cut, Sharon told The Tab, “I think maybe this conversation would have been cut from the show because we were specifically referring to dating apps, whereas Tinder is one of the show’s big sponsors. . “
Continuing, she said, “In terms of trade routes, it’s probably not great for them to have that part of the show, but I think there are a lot of people who really identify with those experiences. ” Sharon says she has received messages from many people sharing their own similar experiences.
A gay Love Island “would always be as good entertainment as a straight Love Island”
Sharon says she had a conversation about her sexuality with Faye which, like some of her other conversations, was also cut off.
Sharon says that for her “bisexuality is a gray area”, and she thinks that different people have different definitions of it. She has never had a relationship with a woman and says, “I think it’s very confusing for me to really know where I fit into this thing and I feel like a lot of people can also fall for it. identify with this in terms of sexuality. It’s very gray, very confusing.
She wasn’t surprised that her conversation had been interrupted. “I think it’s the first time in my mind that I’ve ever talked about it, I’ve actually talked about it quite publicly with anyone, so yeah, I wasn’t really surprised that it was. cut from the series either.
“I know Love Island has got a lot of people saying that you know you should have more sexual diversity on the show, and that has been one of their main battle points, I think.”
Last week, a Love Island boss said the show was about “boys and girls in relationships” and said they haven’t found a way to make same-sex couples work on the show. Earlier this summer, an ITV boss said having gay islanders would be a “logistical difficulty” for the format.
Sharon says she understands this point of view because Love Island’s recouplings show boys choose girls, or vice versa, but says it “doesn’t stop them from having bisexual competitors.”
“If there is a logistical difficulty, then why can’t you have one where it’s a little more open? ” she says. “I think it would still make as good entertainment as straight Love Island, it would be just as interesting if not more.”
She continues, “If you have that many people in a room who can think of things, I think there would be a way for you to fix that, but I think that’s a very easy answer to say ‘ No, this is not the case. job'”.
In addition to Sharon’s unplayed discussions about race and sexuality, she says she has had numerous conversations with Hugo about his disability. Hugo was the first physically disabled islander in the series, and before entering the villa he was revealed to have club foot.
However, when he was in the villa it seemed to be completely ignored and viewers didn’t even show him to talk about it once. Speaking on his Instagram story since leaving the villa, Hugo said he had told other islanders about his disability, but it was not shown.
“I was upset that he felt like it wasn’t portrayed either,” Sharon says.
“They forgot that diversity is not just one thing”
Love Island is often criticized by people who say it lacks diversity, and Sharon says she thinks this year’s producers have “tried” but have forgotten the wide array of forms that diversity takes. “When you think of the starting line-up in terms of girls this year more than boys, Shannon and I are Asian, two white blond women with Faye and Lib, then Kaz is a black woman, so the starting line-up in terms of the women I found were quite diverse and I think they really gave it a try.
“But I think people forget that diversity isn’t just racial. Diversity comes in many forms and ways – hair color, race, weight, height, height, all that.
“I feel like this year they tried, but they forgot that diversity is not just one thing.”
“What good is it for me to be here if everyone’s type is blond?” “
She also believes that producers also need to make sure that the types of people are really diverse: “Where they could have chosen more diverse people to be in the villa, the types of people were not diverse. It’s good to have myself, Shannon and Kaz if boys prefer only white girls.
Sharon says the “happiest point” for her to watch the show after leaving the villa was when Tyler walked in and immediately told Kaz that he was everything to her. “I know how much that meant to her,” she said.
“Unfortunately, that never happened to me and sometimes I would just sit there thinking, well, what’s the use of being here if everyone’s type is blond, because I’m not.” Like I have my hair swept up, but I’m still Asian, I still identify with that and that will never change. And so most of the times Kaz was upset with the way men portrayed their type, I bonded with that a lot. “
Sharon continued, “I feel like if the cast were more diverse, I probably wouldn’t have felt as self-aware as I was when I was there.”
While this was nothing against the people in the couples who made it into the final, “they were all genuine relationships and that’s how the show turned out,” Sharon says the lack of diversity in the finale was difficult to watch. “Watching the final was pretty tough when you see a black woman and three blonde girls,” she says.
Sharon remembers going to the villa’s garden one day and seeing six blonde girls sitting around the fireplace. “Something about this moment just didn’t suit me,” Sharon said.
“There were times when I felt like the card of diversity”
“Where I grew up big busty blonde girls were the girls boys loved, fair skinned blonde girls and I think for me being in this villa I basically felt like back in school, ”she said. “Or because I was a different shape because I was athletic, or because I had darker hair or had different characteristics, I think it was just 2.0.
“And it made me feel really embarrassed and kind of put me back in this weird space in this weird shell.”
Sharon says she is size eight, athletic and muscular, but says there were times when she felt “unattractive” around “petite” girls.
“There is nothing wrong with it, it’s just their natural body and I would never shame them that way,” she said. “I think because they’re all very small, there were times when I kinda said to myself, ‘Oh, am I now also the body diversity map as well as the racial diversity map and the diversity? careers ? “
“Am I here to tick those boxes, or am I here because you really compared me to another person?” There were times when I just felt like the diversity card for the show. “
Regarding the cut scene suggestions, a spokesperson for Love Island said: “It is not possible to show everything that is happening in the villa due to time constraints. That is always our intention. to produce a show that is a fair and precise representation of life in the villa.
Regarding suggestions of lack of diversity, the spokesperson said, “The only requirement for Love Island is that applicants are over 18, single and looking for love. Our application and casting process is inclusive for all and we always aim to reflect the age and diversity of our audience on the show.
Featured Image via Instagram by Sharon @sharongaffka
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