Celebrity

I Stopped Watching ‘The Bachelor’ Because There’s No Body Diversity

Year after year, season after season, viewers have watched a very *particular* looking woman step out of a limousine, with the hopes of finding true love on The Bachelors.

She is conventionally pretty. She is thin. And she is completely unrelatable to me, a plus-sized woman who used to consider herself a fan of the show.

I’ve since turned off the screen because I’m sick of the narrative being shoved down my throat that only conventionally beautiful women who weigh less than, say, 130 pounds, are worthy of love.

If producers want to bring me (and countless women) back into the fandom, show me a contestant who whips a MegaBabe out of her purse on night one to deal with her chub rub! Show me a woman whose run and jump causes her man to stagger. Or at the very minimum, can we get a little jiggle on the screen?

Reality television was my first love.

(No shade to my high school boyfriend.)

From the Kardashians to the Real Housewives, If there are a bunch of chaotic humans brawling it out on television, you can bet I’ve tuned in fastidiously. And while these franchises are not beacons of progressive ideals and body positivity, we’ve seen people of more races, sizes, and sexual identities grace our screens through the years.

The Bachelor franchise seems stuck in 2005. That year, I was 12 years old, and it was probably the last time the number on my scale would not have precluded me from being cast on the show. (A note on the word “fat:” I am using it as a neutral descriptive term and not an insult. There is a difference.)

And yes, the franchise does ask for its interested parties to disclose their weight and height in their application.

The time has come to showcase the rest of the population who are equally deserving of love.

Before I move on, I want to emphasize something. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a thin or “straight-sized” person. What I am pointing out is that the franchise has highlighted exclusively people in smaller bodies for 20 years.

A new campaign is pushing for body diversity in the Bachelor franchise.

In June 2020, the Bachelors Diversity Campaign called for The Bachelor to cast a Black lead for the 2021 season and ensure that all future seasons have at least 35 percent of their contestants identify as people of color. just one week later, Matt James was announced as the first Black male lead for The Bachelor on Good Morning America.

Now, a new campaign is taking the Internet by storm. Roses For Everybody has been quietly planning their launch for months, after Jenna Vesperhost of The Date Card podcastreached a breaking point with the show she loves.

“They had this date with Clayton where they did this open therapy session. He spoke about how he used to be fat as a kid and how he worked to love himself,” Vesper told Women’s Health. Three other women opened up about eating disorders, and how they had previously been bullied for being fat.

“I got really mad at the show because this is the third season in a row where the show has highlighted this ‘Thank God I’m not fat’ storyline,” said Vesper. “I realized it’s not going to get any better unless we make it better.”

After 44 seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorettethere have only been two plus-size contestants.

In March, Vesper posted an Instagram story calling any fat fans in Bachelor Nation to DM her to work on a “secret project.” And she got responses in droves.

On July 11th, the day that season 19 of The Bachelorette premiered, Vesper and fellow fat fans Rachel Everley, Rachel Patenaude, Epiphany Espinosa, Olivia Zakes Greenand Jenny Wagner launched the Instagram account Roses For Everybody and their aiding petition calling for more body diversity on the show. The petition already garnered more than 5,000 signatures in less than a week.

The show’s implied message right now, says Patenaude, is “there is no possible way to connect with someone who is larger than a size 8.”

In fact, in its 20 years on the air and 44 seasons combined, only two contestants self-identified as plus-size. They are Bo Stanleya surfer and model from Chris Soules‘ season in 2015, and Bryan Witzmanna former pro football player, who appeared in Michelle Young‘s 2021 season.

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Both contestants went home on night one. And truly, if you blinked, you may have missed them. Their time on screen was comically short, per Roses for Every Body.

The leads are clamoring for change, too.

Bachelorette season 17 star Katie Thurston asked for a diverse group of body types on her show, only to be delivered more men with impeccable abs.

“Fun fact: I requested ‘teddy bear bodies’ as I actually had multiple serious relationships with men who weren’t your conventional gym type. I can’t say what did or didn’t happen during casting since I wasn’t there 🤷 🏻‍♀️,” she wrote on her Instagram Story.

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Matt James also noted in an interview with Good Morning America that he was open to dating people of all races and body types. But if you look at his season, you would think he’d only date up to a size 4.

May I remind you that the average American woman is a size 16 or 18, according to a 2016 study from The International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology, And Education.

Former Bachelors host Chris Harrison was asked about the possibility of a chubby lead in an interview in 2014 and had a response fitting for the disgraced host.

“No. You know why? Because that’s not attractive, and television is a very visual medium.”

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When I brought up Chris’ response, the women behind A Rose for Everybody and I had a good laugh. Is it true that fat people are universally unattractive? Nope.

“Literally look at any fat woman’s DMs,” said Patenaude, who self-identifies as fat. “Trust me, people are interested.”

I can confirm. I may live in a larger body, but that doesn’t mean I’m not hot, ABC!

What can I do to increase plus-size representation?

If ABC wants to fix this glaring inequity, they can cast more fat people and ensure that they are taken care of. This means having plus-sized off-screen representation, as well as more than one contestant on screen. (We’re not looking for tokenization, after all.)

The Bachelor cinematic universe discounts people with larger bodies in big and small ways. Take the often-used “Pretty Woman” date trope where the male lead buys a contestant all the gowns she wants, for example. Espinosa notes that those gowns are usually sent by a sponsor, and they normally only run up to a size XL.

'the bachelor' and 'the bachelorette' have a body diversity problem

The Bachelor season 25 lead Matt James takes Rachel Kirkconnell on a shopping date.

Craig SjodinGetty Images

And to be frank, most of the clothing shown during the shopping spree wouldn’t fit over my right thigh. If the show partnered with a plus-sized brand, or at least a company that offers sizes for the average American woman, that would be revolutionary.

The women behind a Rose for Everybody have a specific outline of demands. They are outlined in this IG post:

  • Cast a minimum of five fat, diverse contestants each season.
  • Give equitable screen time to fat contestants.
  • Choose leads who specify they are attracted to fat people.
  • Provide mental health support to contestants navigating harassment.
  • Hire fat staff and production and incorporate fat inclusion training.

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    To support this movement, sign the petitioncall ABC, and make some noise for this marginalized community.

    I know I will.

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