You’re attractive; for a black person!
I’m a fan of some reality TV, they are a guilty pleasure as I watch in awe at the people brave enough to go on there. It’s a wonderful distraction to watch beautiful and/or talented people compete in strange settings, in made-up situations created solely for entertainment. You fall in love with the characters on screen and wish them success, the perfect fly on the wall experience safe in the knowledge that no one will be put in any real harm. But that’s the myth. The psychological damage done to some people who clearly should not be put in certain situations is utterly disgraceful. What’s worse, is that some of the UK reality shows perpetuate racism and the notion of beauty.
I’m talking about Married First Sight UK s6 as well as love island. Watching Alexis be partnered up with the vile Jordan reinstated what it is like to be a black woman growing up in the UK. Whilst black men are celebrated for their looks, black women are continually put down. Please, don’t take this comment as an excuse to argue what-about-ism, black men also have a huge fight on their hands. However, they have nearly always been presented as exotic and great lovers. The stereotype of them having abnormally large penises adds to their sexual prowess, whilst black women are not elevated to such. It is only in recent years that having curves, a big bum and breasts have been given a positive push. The traits of the black female figure were nearly always pushed onto us as a negative. Traits that we were powerless to change because of genetics. And so, watching Alexis being told “you’re not my type” wasn’t just a matter of I don’t fancy you, but something much more ingrained within the European culture. This was further exacerbated when she rightfully got stressed and or annoyed, Jordan went to the typical “angry black woman” trope, a position that gaslights black women who are continuously put on the defensive and having to justify their existence.
Why should “you’re not my type” be a problem to say to someone? After all, everyone’s entitled to want what they’re attracted to. This is normal. There are some people that I will never be attracted to and I know that some people will never find me attractive. Married At First Sight and Love Island have an extremely superficial premise, so of course, looks matter. This is part of their appeal. Can these beautiful people learn to work and understand others, form solid partnerships when everyone is extremely attractive? The notion that time together creates deeper connections. But when these show continually brings in contestants who are not attracted to black women, especially the darker shade, they are reinstating what society continually tells us. That because we are dark-skinned, we will never be good enough. The message is that black is undesirable.
These shows pretend to be diverse by introducing token characters as if that will be enough to show that they are inclusive. What they do, is plaster over the deeply ingrained and institutional racism that black people face but have to pretend that it’s ok. If they wanted to show the beauty of diversity and inclusion, they would bring people who are equally attracted to all races. People come in so many different shades, but yet again, we are shown that blond, blue-eyed women are the most attractive in the world. The colour chart of attraction puts the darkest skin at the bottom. This is something all black women face, but the psychological impact of going on national TV and being shunned for your skin alone is something we don’t want.
I stopped watching Love Island, and sadly, I won’t finish watching Married Married At First Sight season 6. I don’t want to be reminded when I’m watching something that’s been created to bring entertainment and joy, that merely existing in my skin is cause for rejection.