Love Island's First Deaf Contestant Is Already Getting All The Love

“Representation matters and, as Rose proved on Strictly, this can make a massive difference."
Meet Natasha Ghouri, Love Island's first deaf contestant.
Meet Natasha Ghouri, Love Island's first deaf contestant.

Love Island, in all its bikini-clad, “can I pull you for chat?, cheesy one-liner glory is back on our screens next month.

And details of the contestants are dropping in.

But one Islander has already got everyone’s attention – Natasha Ghouri, the villa’s first ever deaf contestant.

Series 8 will see Ghouri head to the Majorcan villa in a bid to find love and, in her words, “someone to go on holidays with”.

The 23-year-old dancer from Thirsk, Yorskhire, said in her Love Island bio: “My dating life has been a shambles. This is an opportunity for me to find ‘the one’ and have a great summer at the same time. I’m definitely ready for a relationship.”

Ghouri also said she is “very open” about wearing a cochlear implant, a surgically implanted neuroprosthesis that is designed to give someone with moderate to profound hearing loss extra sound perception.

She recently shared an image to her Instagram account, showing her wearing the implant during a dance performance.

She also said her friends and family would call her “inspirational” for her approach to her own deafness.

“I’m very loyal to my friends and family, I’ll always have their backs. They would definitely say I’m a nap queen – I love napping! I think they’d also say I’m inspirational because of my hearing and my cochlear implant. I inspire quite a lot of people because I’m really open about it,” she wrote in her Love Island bio.

Social media users have already been celebrating Ghouri and the deaf representation she will bring to the show.

Award-winning deaf and disabled journalist Liam O’Dell led the cheerleading, tweeting: “Huge congratulations to Natasha for being the show’s first deaf contestant! Another win for #DeafRepresentation.”

And he wasn’t the only one.

Others used the announcement as an opportunity to call for better access and subtitling for the show.

Recent deaf representation on TV has gone down well, with calls for more of it.

In 2021, Strictly Come Dancing champion Rose Ayling-Ellis was hailed as “a shining example to deaf and hearing people alike” by charities, while her win was celebrated as “a victory for the deaf community”.

The EastEnders star, who is deaf, used an interpreter during the series and her Bafta-winning Couple’s Choice dance, which she repeated during the final, later calling for BSL to become a legally recognised language.

With Ghouri now set to enter the Love Island villa, deaf charities are applauding the casting.

Annie Harris, Advocacy Officer at the national deaf charity RNID, tells HuffPost UK: “Our charity and supporters are really pleased that another major TV show is featuring a deaf contestant.

“Representation matters and, as Rose proved on Strictly, this can make a massive difference to the public’s understanding. And let’s hope the new season of Love Island is always shown with subtitles so that people who are deaf or have hearing loss get to enjoy the show like everyone else.”

Love Island will return to ITV on June 6.