This year’s Love Island will feature the show’s first-ever deaf contestant
Tasha Ghouri, who wears a hearing aid and cochlear implant, is the fifth cast member to be revealed before next week’s premiere
words Hannah Bertolino
Ahead of its premiere next week, Love Island has announced that this season will feature the show’s first-ever deaf contestant: 23-year-old Tasha Ghouri from Thirsk. The model and dancer, who wears a hearing aid and cochlear implant, is the fifth cast-member to be confirmed for the show’s eighth series.
Besides confessing to her love life being in “shambles”, Ghouri stated that her friends – who also describe her as “wild” – find her “inspirational because of my hearing and my cochlear implant”. She continued: "I inspire quite a lot of people because I’m really open about it.” Last year, the model went viral online for showing off her cochlear implant in an ASOS earrings advert.
After last year’s cast line-up – which drew in criticism for perpetuating the show’s long-standing lack of diversity and representation – news of Ghouri’s casting has exploded online, with fans sharing their reactions to the historic reveal.
“I was super excited to see Tasha cast in the show,” Sarah Vilela Da Silva, who also deals with “ear difficulties” tells Woo. “I deal with ear issues that aren’t visible (as so many ear issues can be), and Tasha openly wearing her cochlear implant and talking about her journey takes away some of the weird shame that comes with an invisible ailment/disability.”
She adds: “Tasha being cast is such an important reminder that disables people are still being regularly excluded from mainstream media, and it’s up to us to question why that is, and what we can do to change it.”
While Ghouri’s feature marks a step in the right direction, some fans of the show expressed that there’s still progress to be made in terms of representation. “Tasha is doing an amazing job at breaking the mold of what a ‘typical’ Love Island girl is, but there’s still a long way to go,” explains Viela Da Silva. “I understand that reality TV isn’t an accurate portrayal of the real world, but it could be and should be.”
The show seems to be taking action on fans’ criticisms from over the years. This week, it was announced that cast-members will receive training on how to avoid micro-aggressions, using appropriate language surrounding race, creating safe spaces, and being a good ally following complaints from previous seasons.
Meanwhile, this season’s cast-members will be dressed in pre-loved clothing supplied by Ebay, rather than the show’s usual fast-fashion sponsor I Saw It First.
Love Island premieres on Monday 6 June at 9pm on ITV2.