Despite What This Producer Thinks, It Is Time For Body Diversity On The Bachelor

Photo: ABC/Craig Sjodin.
We root for the contestants on The Bachelor because we enjoy seeing their personalities shine through in their interactions with the man they are falling for, and we genuinely want to see true love blossom on television — or at least get lost in the fantasy of it. But, as much as we enjoy The Bachelor's contestants, it's no secret that they all share one distinct feature: they are all thin and able-bodied, conforming to a very rigid standard of beauty.
We're not the only ones who've noticed this trend. Even the Bachelor production team is well aware that they only cast thin women — Robert Mills, Senior Vice President of Alternative Series, Specials and Late-Night Programming at ABC, spoke directly to the lack of body diversity to Entertainment Tonight; when asked if the network would consider casting more diverse women, he replied "Absolutely. We’d [cast for more body-type diversity.]" Great! Yes. That is awesome and exactly what we want to hear!
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Unfortunately, he then followed up that declaration by saying that "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." If this seems like Mills is shirking off the network and production's responsibility onto the Nick Vialls and Arie Luyendyks, well, that's because he is.
It's clear that Mills isn't giving the Bachelor enough credit. Do they really cast men so shallow that they'll send a curvier woman home right after the limo drops her off? Or a woman who arrives to the mansion in a wheelchair? Cynically, the answer could be yes, but these single men are ostensibly going on the show to find love, and they understand that they'll be meeting lots of different potential partners. Who's to say they won't be attracted to a stunning, successful woman who is bigger than a size 4? Give both The Bachelor contestants and the Bachelor a chance to prove the world wrong.
Let's also note that men who compete on The Bachelorette often are much more diverse in their body types. In Rachel Lindsay's season, we saw Kenny King, who is a pro wrestler and has, well, a wrestler's figure. Iggy, by comparison, does not, and that's not slight against him, just a statement of fact. His less-chiseled body type was not even a point of discussion on the show, and it shouldn't be. Iggy's figure didn't make Rachel any more likely to send him home.
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Lots of television shows are making an effort to cast more body-diverse actors, but we know it isn't enough. The Bachelor isn't just a popular show — it's a cultural force that dominates its time slot. It has a duty to reflect the reality of its viewers. Audiences, mainly women, would be delighted to see some Bachelor contestants who look like them, who shares their values and struggles.
Representation is everything. A diverse cast of women would do away with the myth that plus-size women don't enjoy active, fun love lives, and reinforce the idea that plus-size women are deserving of love and desire. The Bachelor can demonstrate that men aren't shallow creatures who only find one type of woman attractive — and reinforce that no matter what their bodies look like, women are beautiful.
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