For South Asian women on dating shows, Ari Kumar talks about the prejudice they face.
This year's Love Island Australia competitor, Ari Kumar, plans to use her time on the show to make a statement against social injustice as well.
As the first South Asian woman to appear on the Australian dating program, the 25-year-old hopes her participation will help other young women from the community feel seen and heard. She was born in New Zealand but has Fijian Indian ancestry.
Even on a show when individuals are looking for love in front of the whole country, the site content manager claimed it's difficult to see ladies who look like her on-screen.
Before entering the Love Island house, Kumar told Refinery29 Australia that she had trouble finding a role model who was a strong brown woman from her background.
"As an Indian woman and as a Fijian Indian, I want to make going on a dating show more of a thing." For these women, confidence and the courage to put yourself out there, without fear of being judged, are both important.
The judgment she speaks of is connected to societal expectations of South Asian women to seek a career in academia and the stigma of appearing on reality television.. When it comes to conservative communities, being on a dating program is frequently frowned upon. Even before going on the show, Kumar had to have a difficult talk with her family about it.
At first, Kumar said, she contributed to the dialogue about how it's like Big Brother, hoping that would help ease their concerns.
"My dad wasn't very pleased," she continued, adding that he and the family were "a little bit concerned" because she was already living away from home and had taken this decision without asking him.
However, she appreciates that they finally "got it" after all. In fact, since then, her father has been "very supportive," asking her to "make sure you do extremely well on the challenges".
When it comes to reality television, former Bachelorette and Bachelor In Paradise contestant Niranga Amarasinghe says that she's noticed "a significant decrease" in "the number of POC (people of color) auditioning," citing "very strict cultural backgrounds" as a possible reason for their non-participation.
When it comes to getting to the filming stage, the Sri Lankan Australian tells news.com.au that it is "another hurdle each individual has to cross." It's up to them to persuade their loved ones that they're okay with them appearing on reality television.
In the meantime, Kumar revealed that she has been subjected to criticism because of her physical appearance among her community.
Many individuals in the community would say whether you gained or lost a few pounds, 'You've gotten too big.'" She hopes that participating on the show will help to highlight that size diversity is just as essential as racial diversity, if not more so.
Love Island Australia's third season will feature a slew of newcomers, including Kumar. Sophie Monk is back as the show's host.