Why 'The Bachelor' Needs More Diverse Contestants

ABC’s hit show, The Bachelor, is one of the most watched reality TV shows in the U.S., and specifically one of the most well-known dating shows. For 17 years, The Bachelor has been providing its devoted fans with entertainment, romance and drama. For those who are unfamiliar with The Bachelor, the show encompasses approximately 30 eligible bachelorettes competing for the love and affection of one eligible bachelor. After each episode, a rose ceremony is hosted in which the Bachelor gives a rose to all of the bachelorettes he would like to keep pursuing a relationship with. As each episode goes on, and less contestants are left, the Bachelor and his bachelorettes travel the world and go on one of a kind dates with the Bachelor. The ultimate goal is for there to only be one bachelorette left to receive the final rose, usually ending in a proposal. Spinoffs of the Bachelor also exist, such as The Bachelorette, Bachelor Pad, and Bachelor in Paradise.

As each episode passes, dedicated fans become more and more eager to see which contestants will receive roses. Given the circumstances, fans often look up to the contestants and apply the scenarios that occur on the show to their own lives. Several years ago, it became evident that The Bachelor seemed to have a biased contestant pool which inaccurately represented the U.S. and Canada’s population. A prevalent and consistent complaint that became associated with each season’s contestant pool was the lack of diversity. Contestants seemed to be predominately white, making it seem as if the Bachelor was disinterested in dating a diverse range of women. For the first 15 seasons of the show, diversity count usually was around one or two women, often even zero. Moreover, when non-white contestants are included, it isn’t uncommon for them to be eliminated rather quickly. Up until 2016, an African American contestant had not made it past the fifth episode of the show.

Nonetheless, diversity problems associated with The Bachelor have begun to improve. After a long 18 seasons, The Bachelor finally announced its first non-white bachelor, Juan Pablo, a Venezuelan-American. Specifically during this past season of the show, season 23, there seemed to be an increasingly diverse contestant pool. Moreover, Bachelor Colton Underwood didn’t seem to be only keeping predominately white girls. In fact, an African American contestant, Tayshia Adams, had made it up until the last episode of the show.

Now that the problems associated with inaccurate representations of races and ethnicities on The Bachelor seem to be in the process of being fixed, a new observation regarding body diversity has been recently discussed among watchers. After observing more than 20 seasons of The Bachelor, it appears that almost all women appear exceedingly thin. During each season’s first episode, there is usually a slim to none chance of seeing a plus-sized women on screen. Throughout a time where everything is digital and social media regulates the world around us, seeing body types poorly represented amongst a widely popular dating show can be upsetting for the audience. As much as The Bachelor tries to promote the idea that the chemistry, vulnerability and personality play a large role in being successful on the show, the lack of body diversity gives in to the idea that looks and appearances may play an even larger role.

During this past season of The Bachelor, the average age of the bachelorettes was 25 years old. Nonetheless, according to Healthline.com, from ages 20-32, 34.8 percent of the population is considered to be obese. Almost none of the contestants on The Bachelor seem even relatively overweight, most of them appearing exceptionally thin. Over time, many observers have questioned why almost all contestants on The Bachelor have petite and perfected figures, when in reality many women that fall in this age range don’t appear to be perfectly skinny. It is understandable that the contestant pool isn’t filled with extremely overweight contestants.

However, The Bachelor should begin to include a multitude of different body types in order to encourage body confidence. Currently, The Bachelor is advertising the concept that only women who are exceptionally thin qualify as eligible bachelorettes, and that there is only one typically desired body type for women that appears to be datable. Although shows such as The Bachelor fall into the genre of a reality show because these type of shows appear to be real and not staged, it is evident that many components of these shows are fabricated. Regardless of the level of accuracy of The Bachelor, the show is still promoting the idea that the journey of true love and the basis of the plot is indeed real. Therefore, The Bachelor is discouraging young women of varying body types by only showcasing an often unrealistic body image to its viewers. While there is a noticeable difference in the racial and ethnic diversity of bachelorettes over the course of 20 seasons, there seems to be little to no difference in body diversity.

I happen to be an avid watcher of The Bachelor and am always inquisitive to see what direction each season will end up in. I’m already eagerly awaiting another intense and jaw-dropping season of the show next year, but I’m definitely hoping to see a more accurate and less-biased representation of women in the contestant pool. In modern day society, we live in a world in which the media we consume will dictate our thoughts, actions and overall outlook on life. A reality dating show as popular as The Bachelor should look to instill the idea of body positivity and increased self-esteem for individuals across the nation, rather than discourage them from embracing their bodies.

To any women who feel insecure about their body type when comparing themselves to women displayed on popular media forms, embrace the way you look rather than feeling ashamed. Remember that not everything you see on screen equates to reality.