With continuous 24/7 footage and only just over an hour of screen time per episode, plenty of Love Island content this season never made it to air.
“Me and Cynthia actually had a conversation about black women’s hair in the villa but they obviously didn’t air that,” Phoebe told HuffPost Australia.
The 28-year-old, whose father is Jamaican and mother is English and German, said she spoke about her hair journey with Cynthia, who was born in Liberia, west Africa.
“My hair is naturally really curly. When I was younger I relaxed my hair and I even said when I was in there [the villa], I’d love to shave my head and grow my natural hair out,” she said.
“But I think it’s also really important to not judge a woman or specifically black women on how they want to style their hair. If you want it to be natural, then absolutely.
“A girl should never be ashamed of her natural hair but then also you shouldn’t shun black women or say that they don’t like who they are because they want to have straight hair or wear a weave. It’s really just up to the person and what they want to do.”
Cynthia’s the first black contestant to appear on the Australian version of Love Island.
The 23-year-old model from Brisbane has been vocal about the challenges she’s faced with her Afro-textured hair, admitting showing her natural hair leaves her feeling “vulnerable” as “it’s letting the world know who I really am, and stripping off the layers is confronting.”
Cynthia arrived at the Fiji filming location sporting shiny brown locks with a bold front fringe – a very different look to her naturally curly black hair which she’s presented in a previous blog post.
“Growing up in Australia, I always envied my Caucasian friends’ hair – the texture, the length, and the ease of maintaining their hair,” she wrote for Ascension magazine in 2017.
Cynthia initially came to Australia at age seven with her biological father before moving in with her aunt, and it was during her schooling when she experimented more with her hair. She wore her hair braided with extensions or clip-ins up until high school, before wearing a “full set of weave” or “relaxing” her natural hair, which involves chemical straightening.
“Extensions were always the easier option, and from a young age I associated long hair with beauty. I couldn’t see the beauty of my natural hair; it was like a rebellious child I could never quite tame,” she wrote.
This Thursday marks the Love Island Australia finale, and the remaining couples in the villa are Cynthia Taylu and Aaron Shaw, Anna McEvoy and Josh Packham, and Cartier Surjan and Matt Zukowski.
Love Island Australia’s finale week continues on Wednesday and Thursday on Channel Nine.