I was Love Island’s groundbreaking first deaf contestant – but I faced ableism in the villa, says Tasha Ghouri

Tasha Ghouri has said that she had to contend with in the Love Island villa

I was Love Island’s groundbreaking first deaf contestant – but I faced ableism in the villa, says Tasha Ghouri

LOVE ISLAND star Tasha Ghouri has opened up about the ability she faced in the villa after becoming the show’s first ever deaf contestant.

The model and dancer (23) was born deaf and has had a cochlear implant since she was five years old, a small electronic device that allows wearers to process sound and speech.


Tasha Ghouri has said that she had to contend with in the Love Island villaCredit: ITV
Tasha has had a cochlear implant since the age of five


Tasha has had a cochlear implant since the age of five
Andrew Le Page and Tasha Ghouri finished fourth


Andrew Le Page and Tasha Ghouri finished fourthCredit: Rex

While in the villa last summer, Tasha struggled at times with her emotions and clashed with co-stars Luca Bish and Dami Hope in awkward scenes.

What many watching at home, as well as the other islanders living in the villa, didn’t realize at the time was the difficulty Tasha was having trying to balance her disability with living 24/7 in view of the cameras.

In an exclusive interview during Deaf Awareness Week, Tasha recalled the moment she was announced for the show.

She said: “Going on the show was a seminal moment for the TV industry, especially for a show like Love Island. It was like an earth-shaking moment, that’s what it felt like. .”

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Although Tasha’s disability, which she refers to as her superpower, made positive headlines and raised the profile of the deaf community in the days leading up to the show, it was not discussed as much as Tasha would have liked when it came to the villa was not

As a result, her fellow islanders did not understand her individual needs, raising tensions between Tasha, boyfriend Andrew Le Page, 27, and his friends.

She said: “At the beginning I was painted as this girl who’s not a great person. Looking back it was annoying for me because I couldn’t say to the cameras ‘this is why I feel this and this’, and I feel it was manipulated in some ways. I wasn’t dramatic. I wasn’t over the top or making drama for no reason. I was exhausted and being in the sun all day is also a a lot. I wish it was more 100 percent highlighted.”

She continued: “On the show, going to bed at 3am or 4am, waking up just before lunch, we’re so sleep deprived and we always have to have conversations. That’s why a lot of the time I’m quite emotional was, because I was going through my own stuff at the time, listening to conversations, lip reading, it really takes it out of you, that’s why I was so out by the end of the night.

“We didn’t really have that place to escape to. There wasn’t a place where I could go and be emotional and cry my eyes out and just slack off to get my energy back. Maybe that’s something they can alter.”

To make matters worse, regularly finishing in the bottom three and facing public votes, Tasha believed she was not doing enough for her community.

“In there, I really doubted myself,” she said. “I was in the bottom three so many times and I was really worn down. The reason I was so emotional is because I felt like a failure. I felt like I was letting my mom and dad down and the deaf community down. late, especially.”

However, the entire time she was on the show, her father, Tarek, publicly defended her to the outside world and did his best to explain the issues Tasha was facing.

That support worked wonders and eventually helped Tasha on her way to fourth place.

She said of her exit: “Coming out of the show and seeing so much positivity and the impact I made on the show. I don’t think I realized that until I came out.”

Tasha continued: “There’s not enough awareness. That’s why I had a lot of power when I was on the show, just because people couldn’t understand some things.

“Me coming out, doing what I’m doing now, massively opened people’s eyes like ‘OK, that’s why she was like that at that moment on the show’, all the dots started to connect.”

Outside the villa, Tasha may have regained control, but her newfound fame and its demands presented its own challenges.

“The first few months [after the villa] I remember being absolutely exhausted,” she said. “I was just burned out. That’s why I went to Australia. It was perfect because I really had time to recharge.”

Over the past year, Tasha has learned when to rest to prevent further burnout.

She recently sacrificed going to the final night of the Coachella festival in California, with its loud performances and attendees shouting to be heard over the music, to protect her mental health.

“It’s something I struggle with every day, but because I’m so used to it, I don’t feel sorry for myself,” she said. “I’m here to educate people that we do have negatives that we deal with. The constant migraines, the headaches, going to events, always doing interviews at events, always being active, sometimes I want brain completely shuts down.”

Looking to the future, Tasha hopes to see Love Island continue to expand the type of contestants it sends out and was delighted to see Ron Hall, the first partially blind contestant in the show’s history, take part earlier this year .

She said: “I hope they keep the change going. It’s important for representation.”

Tasha is a proud supporter of charities Deaf Kids International, Royal National Institute of Deaf People and National Deaf Children’s Association.

Tasha is an avid advocate for the deaf community


Tasha is an avid advocate for the deaf communityCredit: Instagram
There was also much to smile about in the villa


There was also much to smile about in the villaCredit: Rex
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I was Love Island’s groundbreaking first deaf contestant – but I faced ableism in the villa, says Tasha Ghouri

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