Survivor contestant Parvati Shallow has recently put the show under spotlight for forcing contestants to compete in their underwear, a change that has proven controversial both among its fanbase, and alumni.
Shallow Slams Survivor Production For Dress Code: “Give Them Some Dignity”
On her most recent appearance on Rob Cesternino’s Rob Has a Podcast, Shallow came on to discuss the newest season of the show, Survivor 41, though ended up sharing much more than her thoughts on the most recent episode.
While discussing the most recent changes to the show’s new season, Shallow strayed off to contrast how the show was now showing the cameramen, but contestants were still being shown in their underwear. She explained:
People are still in their underwear. So I’m sorry, but one of these things has to go. People need to get bathing suits, or they need to keep the cameramen behind the scenes.
Shallow, who competed in season 40: Winners at War, claimed that production forced her, too, to wear underwear during the filming of that season, despite the fact that she did not have to do so in any of the other seasons she competed in. “I put up a huge fight,” she said. “I was like, ‘I just had a baby. I can’t be out here in my underwear. I’m like a mom now. I need a bathing suit’.”
Fans of the show seem to be in support of Shallow. One user on Reddit said, “Feel like if there’s any former cast member who production might listen to about this issue Parvati is the one. Good on her for speaking about it because it’s a rule that has to change.”
Another popular comment read, “Go Parv, go!! I really hope next season they get some freakin’ swimwear.”
Shallow was not the only contestant to express outrage at the new rule. Elaine Stott, a contestant in season 39: Island of the Idols, explained to Insider in a June 2021 interview that when picking out her wardrobe, production insisted that she wear “shorter panties than I would ever wear.” She pushed back, but eventually accepted when production allowed her to bring her favorite hat to the island as a compromise: “I said, ‘Listen, I’ll do whatever you want me to do, I don’t care. Just, I have to take my hat,'” she said.
Stott was one of the few who was actually allowed a change of underwear by the end of the season, however, since the pair she started out wearing no longer fit her by the end of her stint on the island. She explained, “My a** was hanging out and I see the family-visit challenge coming up, and I was like, ‘I have got to get new britches, you know?'”
Karishma Patel, another contestant in Island of the Idols, expressed similar concerns to Insider:
Whatever you’re wearing is all we had. It was miserable. We were talking about it amongst each other, and we think that there was a push towards making us look more like we were shipwrecked.
She went on to explain how physically taxing the outfits production forced her to wear were, and how she would get “eaten alive” by bugs when waiting for her only pair of pants to dry.
New Rule Change Comes Amidst Other Changes to the Show
It has always been the case that all items of clothing worn by contestants have to be approved by production; however, according to Insider, contestants are no longer allowed to wear swimsuits as of season 37: David vs. Goliath, which aired in late 2018. The reason for this rule change is unclear, though it comes in the backdrop of other changes to the show, meant to increase safety and diversity among the cast.
After the first ever player was ejected from the game due to sexual harassment allegations in season 39, new protocols meant to prevent such an event from happening again were put in place for season 41 onward. In addition, around the same time, CBS pledged to make their Survivor and Big Brother casts consist of 50 percent people of color.
The new wardrobe rule, which was less publicized, has not had such a positive reaction among fans. Cesternino himself mentioned that the decision has led to “a lot of not-so-great press.”
One user on Reddit, referring to Shallow’s comment on giving contestants dignity, said, “It’s not even just that, it can cause health issues.”
Dr. Premal Patel, a urologist, told Insider that such “less-than-hygienic kind of clothing” could lead indeed lead to health risks, including potential urinary tract infections. In fact, multiple contestants, including Karishma Patel, have publicly acknowledged they received UTIs during or after their time on the show. As of now, it is unknown whether CBS will reverse the rule for future seasons.