Love Island contestants criticised for saying they prefer ‘mixed-race’ partners

‘It reinforces harmful stereotypes of there being a hierarchy of racial desirability’

Sabrina Barr
Tuesday 19 June 2018 19:45 BST
Love Island: Ellie says her type is mixed race

In the two weeks that this year’s Love Island has been on screen, it’s sparked a series of conversations about the way in which the modern dating world is portrayed.

While the lack of body diversity in the villa has been a huge cause for debate and concern, many people have also been discussing the subject of race in regards to the show.

Contestants Georgia Steel and Ellie Brown have both made the point of saying that they have a preference for “mixed-race” partners, which has caused widespread outrage on social media.

A number of people have criticised them for “colourism” (prejudice against people with a darker skin tone), while others claim that white women stating that they’re specifically attracted to mixed-race men is an example of a “fetish”.

“All these white girls saying their type is ‘mixed race’ this whole show is really an insight into racial dating politics and dynamics for real, like a perfect microcosm,” one person wrote on Twitter.

“As a mixed-race person when people say: ‘Oh my type is mixed race’, I literally want to smash something,” someone else commented.

The notion of determining whether a person is attractive based on their race is very questionable, as entertainment and features editor of Pride Magazine Nicole Vassell explains.

“This trend of referring to your ideal type as being ‘mixed-race’ is definitely problematic - and is quite a clear example of how pervasive fetishisation is in dating today,” Ms Vassell tells The Independent.

“For starters, by simply saying that ‘mixed race’ is your type, it fails to acknowledge the fact that being mixed race can mean a multitude of different ethnic mixes.

“However, the main issue it brings up is the fact that it reinforces harmful stereotypes of there being a hierarchy of racial desirability (apparently placing Samira, a black woman who hasn’t received one bit of interest so far in the series, at the bottom).”

An individual who is mixed race may be able to trace their lineage back to different regions from around the world.

However, as someone on Twitter pointed out, when Georgia and Ellie have described their ideal man as “mixed race”, they’ve been referring to a specific skin colour as opposed to all men of mixed-race heritages.

“It is a fetish because the type of mixed race all these girls are looking for specifically is half black/half white,” they wrote.

“My man Eyal is half-Israeli but none of them jumped up to him with this ‘mixed race is my type’ nonsense.”

Love island: Wes and Laura argue about the arrival of Ellie

The way in which the contestants on Love Island have been flippantly referring to race is indicative of detrimental attitudes to race that still exist today, Ms Vassell states.

“It’s ridiculous to imply that a person’s racial background categorically defines their attractiveness - but by this becoming a casual, throwaway comment, it shows that this mentality is something just taken as rote in dating discourse today,” she says.

“By making someone’s race the marker of desirability, it erases each person’s individual appeal and instead imposes your own presumptions and fantasies on their bodies, regardless of who they really are.

“It’s actually quite scary that such a basic blanket statement is a legitimate romantic type category on Love Island - but, in all honesty, I’m sure plenty of viewers aren’t surprised.”

Recent research from Australia discovered that 15 per cent of men using the dating app Grindr included examples of “sexual racism” on their profiles.

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