Earlier this week, ABC unveiled the 33 women competing for Peter Weber’s heart on The Bachelor next season. (You can see them pictured above.) And while there seem to be more contestants of color than seasons past, there’s only one body type as far as I can tell: thin.
It’s disappointing to not see more body diversity, but also not so surprising. After all, this is a franchise where a woman over 27 is considered a “cougar” and we’ve only seen one Bachelorette of color. When it comes to body diversity, there was progress in 2015 when plus-size model Bo Stanley appeared as a contestant on Chris Soules’ season. But she was cut the first week.
And then, when host Chris Harrison was asked in 2014 if there will ever be a “chubby” Bachelor, his answer was…less than encouraging. “That’s not attractive,” he told The New York Times Magazine. “And television is a very visual medium, and I know that sounds horrible to say, but I know that at 42, in the eyes of television, I’m old and unattractive. Sure, I can put a suit and tie on, but I have hair on my chest and I don’t have a 12-pack. I live a healthy life, but I don’t do eight hours in the gym, nor do I want to. And I don’t eat 50,000 egg whites.”
In an interview with Entertainment Tonight last year, Robert Mills, ABC’s senior vice president of alternative series, specials, and late-night programming, said the series would “absolutely” cast for more body-type diversity. However, he added this caveat: “A lot of it does revolve around who the lead is and who the lead wants to date. What you don’t want to do is say, ‘We’re going to put on somebody who’s more curvy,’ and then they’re gone the first night. It’s hard, but we’re all for as much diversity as possible.”
While I understand what Mills is getting at here and consider myself forever member of Bachelor Nation, there’s no excuse for foregoing body diversity altogether. This should go without saying, but there are many types of beautiful bodies in the world. And what’s more: These bodies are sexy—and people find them sexy. I think it’s time the franchise reflected that.
Whitney Way Thore from My Big Fat Fabulous Life echoed this in a recent interview with Glamour about plus-size women on reality TV. “If you look at America, the average woman is plus-size,” she said, noting the often-quoted statistic that 68% of American women wear a size 14 or above. “So what are we doing on however many seasons of The Bachelor and there’s never been a fat woman? I would love to see it, especially in terms of desirability and love and sex appeal. You don’t see a fat person because they’re not ready to present that a fat woman can be that way. That’s a big problem.”