Love is love, and preference is preference, right? That’s how the saying goes, but when we live under white supremacy in the west, it’s not too surprising that western ideals of beauty reign supreme in the world of dating.
And these problematic tendencies often always materialize on reality dating and marriage shows. Love Is Blind, Love Island, The Bachelor are all reminders that women or even men of color are less desirable than their white counterparts.
That is to say thin, white, usually blonde men and women with blue eyes are often deemed more attractive and attention-worthy than the few contestants of color.
On the latest season of Love Is Blind, we have what might be the first Indian couple on a major reality show. Abishek, aka Shake, and Deepti both proudly proclaim that they’ve exclusively dated white people (Deepti even comments that Shake is the first Brown boy she kissed).
And bizarrely but perhaps not surprisingly, Shake struggles to find a physical attraction to Deepti – who, much like the other contestants, is drop-dead gorgeous.
Shake, after seeing Deepti without makeup for the first time, even comments that Deepti gives him ‘aunty vibes’, which is at best shady and at worst racially charged.
Shake reveals to his mum that he never struggled in this department when it came to the other women he dated – ie all white women.
While it’s plausible that a natural attraction may just lack for other reasons between Shake and Deepti, when you consider how women of color fare on dating shows, it’s not too surprising that Deepti is given ‘aunt’ status.
And the only Black woman to progress on the show – Iyanna – is given ‘second-fiddle’ status after her partner Jarrette begrudgingly proposes to her when a bi-racial, white-passing Latinx woman rejected him.
Over in the UK, during the initial coupling on Love Island, the Black Islanders are almost always left unpicked, reluctantly paired together in lieu of other Islander interest.
The ‘bombshells’ introduced on the show often tend to be white, blonde women too, including Molly-May Hague, Chloe Burrows, and Megan Barton-Hanson.
And as with any of these shows, the social commentary online is quick to unpick these behaviors and attitudes.
Love Is Blind isn’t the first to show to manifest these problems. The politics of desire are complex, and superficial shows, orchestrated to be superlatively entertaining, are not going to do justice to address these issues.
So when producers cherry-pick contestants such as Shake or anybody for that matter, who says they ‘prefer’ to date white people, or tacitly prove so, the ones who get hurt are people of color and those who don’t subscribe to eurocentric beauty ideals.
We’ve had these ideals rammed into our throat since birth, it’s certainly not surprising that the most European-looking contestants would prosper.
People of colour, just like any other viewer, are also here to be entertained, without the reminders of white supremacy in dating. These shows should deliver on not dwelling on these assertions, at least.
Because, truly, we get it – you only date white people.