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Beauty is in the eye of the…Contestant?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FIU chapter.

Just like anyone else, I love to binge. There is no better binge in my book than reality tv. It helps me disconnect from reality and unwind for the day. To have no thoughts in my brain except for the superficial drama that will be resolved within 5 minutes that’s flashing before my eyes. My pick? I’m into all the classics. Every Monday night during the fall I’m there, curled up on my couch watching the final rose as it’s being handed out. Every hot summer night, I’m there, watching the girls couple up with this boy because he’s her type of paper. Every week I get on Netflix, watching people blindly go into isolated pods in hopes of finding love. 

I have the best time every episode. Watching something we have as a society is deemed pointless and non-influential in the real world. Although I’m having a great time watching these reality shows, I always have a sinking, discomforting feeling. A feeling about something I’ve noticed for a long while now. 

Every time I watch these shows, almost every season it’s the same when it comes to elimination. The black and brown women are always eliminated at the beginning of the show. Or even worse they get picked last to couple up or stay on the show, usually with partners who have no romantic interest in anyone that isn’t white or white-passing. There is usually a token one or two that don’t get attention but are there for that diversity quota, always having the worst time because they do not find the love on any of those shows they know they deserve. Here are my several dilemmas with this. 

Yes, I am all for diversity in shows, movies, etc. Because that’s what the world we live in looks like, but you cannot have these black and brown women on the show without also placing potential partners who are interested in getting to know those types of women. It’s pointless, for those women being a part of the said show if all their counterparts vaguely (but very obviously) only are attracted and are seeking white beauty standards. Whether those counterparts realize it or not. This is what I wish producers would understand when it came to romance-based reality shows like The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Love Island, Love is Blind, and many more. Not only is it a huge flaw on the producer’s part but it unknowingly trickles down to the viewers. The viewers watch these shows without thinking much of it but when you break it down they repeatedly see these women of color get picked last, continually being the last choice. The audience consumes this example without much thought, but when they eventually look for a partner in their own life, they have weird race restrictions on their dating life that ultimately coincide with what we’ve been taught as the “beauty standard.” As a black woman who enjoys these shows, at its core, it still brings up feelings of undesirability I’m sure many other WOC have had when growing up. Seeing that fear of being pushed to the side for who you are being played out in real-time can be reminiscent of times we wish to forget. For such “progressive” media representation, we’ve made it flip on itself and still have it be detrimental to minority groups. With us getting the leftover fermenting trickle of the tall, cold, “refreshing” glass that is reality tv. 

Hi my name is Elizabeth but you can also call me Justine! I’m an international relations major at FIU just trying to share my thoughts, concerns, observations and victories with our HerCampus family!