My Celebrity Life

Made In Chelsea’s Paris Smith recalls being fetishised by white love interest: ‘I felt objectified like am I a dog?’

My Celebrity Life –

Paris Smith shares her experience of fetishisation in dating (Picture: @ladyparissmith/Instagram)

Made In Chelsea star Paris Smith pretty much knew her stomach would drop before new Love Island contestant, Kaz Kamwi, wasn’t picked in the first coupling of the latest series. 

Kaz heartbreakingly became at least the fourth Black woman not chosen by any of the men in episode one of the hit ITV2 dating franchise. In particular, she was the latest in a growing line of dark-skinned women who have struggled to find genuine connections on the show.

By default, the influencer was coupled up with Toby Aromolaran – who is mixed race – but his feelings for Kaz have been questionable at best, with him flip-flopping over whether he is attracted to her or not.

It’s left viewers wondering: Why can’t they find men who have a preference for dating Black women?

Paris, 22, knows all about the pressures that can come with starring on reality TV. Last year, she joined the cast of E4’s long-running series, Made In Chelsea, becoming the first main Black cast member after a decade on-air.

MIC isn’t a dating show but Paris, who is mixed race, knew that her skin colour would be a talking point of her joining the popular series.

However, she told ‘I actually felt more comfortable joining the show during those moments [of the Black Lives Matter movement] than before… I guess I just have a positive mindset.’

My Celebrity Life –

Paris is open to dating all races (Picture: Instagram/ parissmithldn)

Rather than feeling like the odd one out among the predominantly white cast, Paris felt completely welcomed by her co-stars, particularly by Ollie Locke, who ‘looked out’ for her and made sure she felt part of the group.

‘Being accepted from both the public and from the cast of Chelsea, that meant a lot to me,’ she said.

But, reality TV can be brutal and like many other women of colour, Paris found it difficult to watch Kaz picked last if at all.

She explained: ‘With shows like Love Island, I’m actually on my toes like “please, please, please”, because [I don’t want to keep watching this narrative] being perpetuated of beauty standards not being Black women, because Black women are absolutely glorious…

‘As any Black woman will know you are, unfortunately, at the bottom of the dating pool. I believe studies are showing that women are at the bottom of the pool in terms of matches [on dating apps] and that’s, I think, harmful for a lot of us.’

Paris continued: ‘So when you see another woman of colour not being picked, you feel for her because you know she’s not just feeling that now, it’s a lot of it’s a lot of women who feel like this on a regular basis. I mean, dating as a Black woman is hard.

‘I’ve spoken to a lot of my close friends who are Black women, and even me being mixed race, I thought I had that extra bit of privilege in terms of dating. It’s hard. I think that comes from long histories of beauty standards of things like apartheid in South Africa, and slavery in the way that we’re perceived for having natural hair.’

The TV star recalled even Googling the term ‘picture of a beautiful woman’ and found that around ‘99% of [the results] are white women’.

My Celebrity Life –

Kaz Kamwi wasn’t picked but was coupled up with Toby Aromolaran by default (Picture: ITV)

‘It kind of proves what people perceive,’ she said deflated.

‘So it’s almost like, OK, we’re gonna cast a Black woman on a show that is solely about finding love. Do you find people who are interested in women of colour? Because people are quite quickly swiping right, swiping left, basing their opinions on appearances.

‘I’m sure it’s easy for them to just do a little tally beforehand and try and make sure that the people that they’re bringing on are going to find love. They’re not just being used to show you as a token – not to say that she is at all because Kaz brings so much personality, so much energy. Personally, I think she’s the most beautiful girl on there.’ approached ITV for comment on their vetting process in regards to contestants’ dating preferences and whether they ensure there are enough men who would be attracted to a Black woman – specifically dark-skinned Black women.

They declined to comment specifically on the process but said: ‘As part of ITV’s diversity acceleration plan, we are committed to ensuring diversity is prominent across all areas of our production team, including casting and editorial.’

A particular frustration for Paris was watching Kaz step forward for a Black man, Aaron Francis, only for him to pick another non-Black contestant. While she recognises it’s not the Black man’s responsibility to change their dating preferences, she feels that ‘Black men have Black mothers at the end of the day, those are the people that raised them and if they care about their mothers and their Black daughters, this is an important conversation for their community’.

It all stirred uncomfortable memories for Paris who has been fetishisied in the past.

Fetishisation in dating is a sexual fascination with things that are not sexual, such as race, gender, sexuality or body type, and characterises that person.

My Celebrity Life –

Paris became the first Black main cast member on Made In Chelsea (Picture: E4, Channel 4)

Recalling one particular recent incident, Paris said: ‘It was a white guy and he had a friend who is a white woman and she was dating a Black guy. [My date] was like, “Oh, it’s so funny”, he was showing me photos like, “Oh look, my best friend. She’s got a Black one, I’ve got a Black one”.

‘I was like, am I a dog? I literally just walked away because I couldn’t really explain it myself why that hurt my feelings so much. But then I realised I felt objectified and I felt like this person was choosing to see me based off of my colour. For me, my appearance has never been the building blocks of who I am today. I think with the conversation of Black Lives Matter, I’ve actually realised how fetishisised we are as a community of Black women and even Black men to an extent.’

Just last month, a study by dating app Bumble found that one in three people had experienced racial discrimination, fetishisation or microaggressions while using their platform.

Sadly, it’s not just a problem on the apps.

Sharing her experience, Paris continued: ‘I dated this race car driver from Belgium. I realised that actually, there were quite a lot of cultural differences – not between me and him – but within his family and the older generation.

‘There were a lot of moments where I suffered quite a bit of racism from their family [such as] being banned from family events, using the N-word, sending me Blackface photos, really horrible stuff. That affected me for the future of my relationships because after that, I then was scared that the next person I date, am I’m going to face those same criticisms? Am I going to walk into a family and feel like I’m not wanted. Are they pretending or should I trust these people?

‘It all adds up to a lovely kerfuffle over dramas for Black women.’

As for Kaz, despite her rocky start on Love Island, Paris is hopeful for her future in finding love, describing her as ‘beautiful and really confident’.

‘You have to be a really strong person and she does seem like she’s strong enough to deal with it,’ she said.

For Love Island, Paris hopes that producers work to ensure the cast are diverse enough featuring people who are interested in specific types of people.

‘If you can choose someone who solely likes only white women, then you should be able to call someone who only likes Black women,’ she noted.

‘Do take that step and make sure that not only just or the Black person to feel wanted, but to actually sit there and make changes by showing that there are people out there that are actively interested in women of colour, and also showing that you can have interracial relationships.’


Credit: Original article published here.

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