reality tv

'I appeared on Love Island Australia. The experience amplified a fear I can barely admit.'

If you'd told me three years ago that I'd have the title of a Love Island winner under my belt (regarded as honourable and prestigious), I would have considered it near impossible for someone like me.

On a reality show where the format is purely balanced on coupling up and being dumped, you'd think romantic rejection would be the biggest fear. Thankfully, my real-world experience had me well-versed on that front.

Looking back on my first foray into reality TV and my Love Island experience, I see how the environment amplified an existing fear I can barely admit to myself: I am not as good as someone who is white.

When you are stuck in the confines of coloured plexiglass and obnoxious neon signs, it does make you wonder 'Does nobody want me because I'm Asian?'

It was around day three I had a conversation with another POC islander, where we questioned whether our race made us less desirable in the villa. But nothing is really just 'in the villa'. At the end of the day, it is a social experience and everything that happens in Love Island is an amplification of real-world behaviour.

The Love Island Australia contestants in 2021 (Tina, second from right). Image: 9Now. 


Everyone who steps into the Love Island villa has a degree of anticipation about how they will be perceived and fears of rejection. But I can almost guarantee, that every person of colour that walks through those villa doors is wondering if their race will be the reason they leave alone.

That doesn't make it true, or that it will happen but it is f**king sad that it is even a thought.

The Love Island environment is best described as a pressure cooker. Emotions are heightened and you're forced to quickly form social bonds, both a condition of human instinct and for some, a dash for more airtime. 


Love Island brought to light a talking track operating in the corners of my mind: I have more difficulty finding love because of my race. I don't think I'd previously faced this feeling.

Tina Provis is ready to speak up about her experience on reality TV. Image: Instagram/@tinaprovis.

Love Island brought clarity to these thoughts, but this isn't just a reality TV thing. I'll be bold in saying this is played out in the lives of POCs every day, in dating and social scenarios.


It shows up for me while dating in the real world. 

My cousin once set me up on a blind date and she'd told the guy that I had been on Love Island. I'm embarrassed to admit my first thought was that I would disappoint him, anticipating that the typical image of a Love Islander would be a blonde, all-Australian type girl — not true or the case of Love Island, but my insecurities personified.

Growing up in one of the whitest parts of Sydney, no statistical data here, purely based on the fact that my school was over 80 per cent white (kind of like reality TV), led me to harbour prejudices against myself and it's taken years to start deprogramming this way of thinking.


I'd like to think admitting how I feel brings me a bit closer to owning my identity, being freed from insecurity and more importantly, helping even just one more person feel like they aren't alone.

Growing up, I always looked for faces I could relate to, from my favourite TV shows and movies, to around my school. When you can't find representation, eventually you stop expecting to find it, and that's where people start to doubt their place and worth.

In the same way a lack of representation can affect you growing up, seeing more POCs in the media can make all the difference for young people looking for faces that help them feel seen.

And while I joke about the honour of being a Love Island winner, I am grateful that through my experience I got to be this for some people.

This article originally appeared on Tina's Instagram and has been republished here with full permission.

Feature image: Nine/Instagram/@tinaprovis. 

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