As a plus-size person, I’m not used to seeing bodies like mine represented on television, let alone on reality shows watched by the masses. And as for bigger people shown in a positive light and treated like everybody else? I honestly never thought it would happen. Growing up, the only reality shows that featured bigger people were focused on them losing weight or changing how they looked in some way. In 2022, reality shows tend to focus on the beauty ideal: 'perfect' figures in swimsuits, girls with plumped lips, boys with ripped abs, slender people having fun, falling in love and getting their happily ever afters. So when I flicked through the new releases on Netflix over the weekend and stumbled upon Snowflake Mountain, it was a breath of fresh air.
Filled with bubbly personalities, varied sexualities and an array of body types, it’s the first reality show that feels truly inclusive – especially watching it as a plus-size person. I connected instantly with the likes of Deandra, Rae and Liam. Seeing people with fuller bodies represented in mainstream media was what I needed amid the 'that girl' trend, hot girl summer and the inevitable resurgence of diet culture that happens whenever the weather gets warmer.
Snowflake Mountain follows a group of millennials and Gen Zers who are packed off to the wilderness with no smartphones or luxuries in a bid to experience life away from how we all know it today. Faced with challenges and sacrifices, the participants wade through mud with no makeup on, shower with water from a river, battle with the life they knew before and get along with a bunch of complete strangers. But what struck me while watching the programme was the stark difference between it and the ever-popular Love Island, which is currently midway through its eighth season on ITV2. One show features glum-looking people with so-called 'perfect' bodies on a mission to find love and fame; the other is filled with a variety of body types all having a laugh, being themselves and not worrying about what they look like. With the likes of Deandra representing Black plus-size women, and Rae and Liam representing curvier figures, it's so great to see the cast embracing the experience without size coming into it.
When Deandra wins a task she proudly shows off her fuller chest with her "titty jiggle", and each person in the camp is seemingly happy to make a fool out of themselves without focusing on their looks. Unlike so many other shows today, the participants’ bodies have nothing to do with anything. Nobody’s weight, size or unique figure is mentioned unless someone brings it up themselves in a jovial way, and the body types of all participants are completely overlooked by fellow cast members (and the viewers at home). The lack of discussion about weight, size, beauty or looks is refreshing and yet somehow strange: as I watched, I half-expected it to come up, although it never did. Everyone is treated the same, everyone does the same challenges and tasks, and nobody belittles anyone else because they are different.
Deandra goes on to win the show because of her progression and growth as a person, and seeing the joy beam out of her is wholesome and pure. It's something that doesn’t usually happen to plus-size people on TV in this day and age. The programme's approach to different body types proves to me that reality shows can be size-blind if they’re willing to be. Sadly, it’s clear from the likes of Love Island that producers still believe that bigger people would lessen the tone or change the direction of a show.
Like so many viewers, I was drawn in by the personalities of the participants in Snowflake Mountain, not by their looks, the clothes they wear or their backgrounds. Young viewers relate instantly to the cast, who are in their late teens to mid 20s, because of their very relatable reactions to things like having their suitcases 'burned' or having to climb a mountain, as well as their pop culture references. Their bodies don’t have anything to do with how much they’re liked or accepted; each participant is loved for who they are as a person, for their humour, their kindness and the common ground we all share. More reality TV shows need to follow in the footsteps of Snowflake Mountain and put size in the back seat. This upbeat reality show proves that inclusivity pays off and allows more people, like me, to feel seen and not ostracised.