4 Women Discuss Missing Body Diversity in ‘Love Is Blind’

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William Shakespeare may have popularized the expression “love is blind,” but in 2020, Netflix gave the phrase new meaning. The network’s hit reality TV show, Love Is Blind, is a social experiment to see if it’s possible to fall in love without visually seeing your partner. In the show, cast members are placed into pods with a thin wall separating them. They get to know each other by talking through the wall, eliminating those they don’t connect with. By the end, pairs choose each other and decide if they’d like to get engaged — all without seeing each other first.  

Despite the show’s premise, almost all cast members featured in the first season of Love Is Blind were conventionally attractive. The second season that aired this year at least included a few people with varying body types, but they were all eliminated before getting the opportunity to pair. This left viewers feeling a bit puzzled. What happened to the men and women in the pods who weren’t conventionally attractive? Wasn’t the point of the experiment to prove that viable connections could be formed through compatible personalities alone? 

To find out what others think of the lack of body diversity in Love Is Blind, CircleAround sourced insights from women who work on reality TV shows, casting, and for mainstream dating services. Here’s what they have to say about body diversity inclusion in reality TV and in Love Is Blind.  

1Stef Safran, Matchmaker and Dating Coach

“I was a contestant coordinator on The Dating Game in the 1990s. There is a certain ‘type’ that is more camera-friendly and makes storylines more interesting,” Safran tells CircleAround. She notes that advertisers also influence who is cast and who is matched. Characteristics such as contestants’ personal income or city of residence are factored in as well.

“For my matchmaking and dating coaching clients, I constantly have to explain that those TV shows are [for] entertainment value and do not mean that long-term matches are the goal of the show any more than [they are for] shows like The Bachelor or The Bachelorette,” Safran says. “These shows depict people that may be looking for a career in television or be an influencer more than they are looking for love.” 

2Allie Nelson, TV Producer and Writer

“I worked on the casting team for Netflix's Dating Around Season 2, and you can see that there's a lot of diversity in the cast in all senses,” Nelson tells CircleAround. “We were able to feature a lot of cultural diversity as well as diverse body types, and we were very proud of the cast.”

Nelson notes that throughout the season, there were several women with diverse body types, such as Deva Mahal, a plus-size bisexual Black woman. She’s also a fan of how Love Is Blind featured different body types early on in Season 2, and cited an article in Variety that discussed how producers on the show swear the couples featured weren’t purposely chosen based on their looks. 

“More diverse body types are definitely being featured, but it can be hard to get too many plus-size people cast to one show,” Nelson says. “Otherwise, there's a worry that the show will be seen as a niche show just featuring plus-size people, which can be frustrating. But as society changes, hopefully that will change, too.”

3Arjita Sethi, Reality TV Show Cast Member

Sethi married her partner, Anshul Dhawan, on an Indian reality show. Though they were from the same community, they had never met in person before tying the knot, but that didn’t seem to impact their relationship. They’ve been together ever since.

“I truly believe that love is blind, but it is not foolish,” Sethi tells CircleAround. The couple had fostered their relationship through Facebook messages, audio calls, and other forms of social networking technology. After co-founding an ed-tech startup together, they realized their relationship was beyond professionally significant. 

“Our passion for educating the world and making it more equal made us fall in love without ever meeting in person,” Sethi says. “We are connected with people because of our aligned values and purpose. It's nine years later and we both have built a venture-backed tech startup, living the nomadic life, and honestly, we are just getting started. This is truly the partnership that I manifested.”

4Emma Mankey Hidem, Interactive Dating Game Show Creator

“It honestly surprises me that Love Is Blind would stick to what are thankfully becoming outdated standards,” Hidem tells CircleAround. “Body positivity has proven to be very profitable for brands who embrace it.”

“When I started my dating game show in 2020, it was very important to me that I be inclusive and have as much diversity as possible,” Hidem says. “I wanted anybody to feel like they could apply, regardless of their perceived level of conventional attractiveness.” 

The unconventional approach to traditional dating entertainment concepts paid off. According to Hidem, “the positive message of inclusivity helped the show spread rapidly by word-of-mouth in Washington, D.C.” Since then, she’s received a lot of positive feedback regarding her show’s inclusivity and hopes it will serve as an example of how more mainstream media can make their productions more inclusive as well.

The Bottom Line 

While Love Is Blind made an attempt to include cast members with varying body types, it’s clear we still have a long way to go. Our ideas about what we consider to be “conventionally attractive” are too narrow. Women in the entertainment industry agree, and we all hope that the next season of Love Is Blind — if there is a next season — will include more representation and body diversity. 

Tags: Body Image, Body Positivity

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Written By

Katka Lapelosová

Katka is a writer from New York City, currently living in Belgrade, Serbia. See Full Bio

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