“I very much love me.”
Alexa Alfia is the first curvy contestant on “Love Is Blind,” a Netflix reality show — and she is proud of who she is, on and off screen.
Speaking to TODAY, the contestant on the third season of "Love Is Blind," said that since the show premiered on Netflix, she's gotten nothing but love and support from women of all backgrounds and body types on social media.
"From the beginning of everything I just saw more of love for all my curvy ladies and all my Jewish loves from across the globe," Alfia told TODAY. "I have had support and it's been really, really amazing."
Alfia, 27, is Jewish and Israeli. She grew up in Dallas and has six siblings. Although her fiancé Brennon Lemieux isn't Jewish, he embraces her culture and values.
On the show, Alfia talks openly about her body. During her first confessional interview, Alfia speaks about the pressure to change — and deciding not to.
“When I look at myself, yeah, like, I could stand to probably lose a little weight, like I could, but I don’t necessarily think I want to,” Alfia says.
“I very much love me. I like to eat, and I love to eat. I never wanna be like, ‘Oh my God, sorry I can’t eat this.’ I’ve never been like that. I’m very confident in who I am, and I deserve someone who understands that,” she continues.
She and Lemieux connect in the pods over their shared love for shakshuka — a Middle Eastern dish consisting of eggs, tomatoes and spices. (Later on, when she introduces Lemieux to her family, they're equally impressed he name-dropped shakshuka.)
When Lemieux tells Alfia he loves her for the first time in the pods, he emphasizes that it's based on their emotional connection.
"I haven't even seen you or touched you. I don't know any of that stuff, but I know I love you," Lemieux says.
Later, she and Lemieux speak about all kinds of things — from pre-nups to her wardrobe requirements to their mutual attraction. But her size is never a topic of discussion, coming as a relief to some online commentators.
"As a plus size girl myself, I was very nervous for Brennon to meet Alexa. But when he saw her and gave her the reaction SHE DESERVED, my heart melted," one Twitter user said.
The show has previously been critiqued for their lack of body diversity in the past seasons. In Season Two, viewers spoke up about plus-size cast members given less screen time, and noted that none of the contestants ended up in a final couple in either season.
Meanwhile, other contestants from Season Three wrestle with confidence after pairing up with strangers. For example, Bartise Bowden tells fiancée Nancy Rodriguez that Raven Ross, another contestant, is more his "type." The same happens when Cole Barnett tells fiancée Zanab Jaffrey he would be more likely to go for Colleen Reed in the "real world."
Speaking to TODAY, Rodriguez said the turmoil was worth it for the response she's received online from viewers.
"For me, it's been such a positive experience to see people reacting to our stories," Nancy Rodriguez told TODAY. "Not just my story but Alexa's story, Colleen's story, Raven's story, Zanab's story. We're all very independent women.
"Knowing that the world gets to see that I'm just so grateful and blessed that I got to do it these girls and we're seeing strong supportive of each other," Rodriguez added.
Rodriguez also told TODAY that she didn't let her relationship with Bartise impact her self-confidence. She said that when you first hear that your fiancé is looking at someone else, it's hard, but that you can't let it get to you.
"Raven is hot. I'm hot. We're all hot," Rodriguez said. "So, we knew that that's not why we came on to this experiment. It didn't faze me in the sense that it knocked my confidence down. I came in as a whole woman and a confident person. I know who I am."