The women don’t have to look like the roses

Millions of people’s favorite way to spend Monday night in January through March and May through September, is on ABC watching Bachelor, Bachelorette, and Bachelor in Paradise. This franchise has produced roughly 49 seasons across 18 years, five different shows, and 37 countries. For those who are not familiar with it, The Bachelor takes roughly 30 single women, around the ages of 22 to 32, and brings them to California where they all date the same guy, the bachelor. Each week, the bachelor will go on group and one-on-one dates with different girls, and they will all travel around the world. At the end of every week, the bachelor will have a rose ceremony where he distributes roses to girls he would like to have stay. Typically, one to three girls are sent home each week. The Bachelorette is the same concept, however it starts with 30 guys, and one woman. The show is filled with lots of drama, tears, fights, and romance.

   Over the past few years I have become a regular viewer of the show, and as I was watching this current season, I came to a realization. The Bachelor franchise has virtually no diversity in their casting of different body-types. While going through cast photos from each season, it is obvious the show has casted primarily petite women for The Bachelor, and primarily buff men for The Bachelorette.

   This link will take you to TV Insiders gallery of the cast photos from the current season of The Bachelor:

   This link will take you to TV Insiders gallery of the cast photos from the most recent season of The Bachelorette:

   When I brought this up to someone, and asked why they thought this might be happening, they responded, “I’m sure they asked the bachelor and bachelorette what their ‘type’ is, and most people say athletic or in-shape people.”

   While this could be true that the leads on each season say that an athletic or petite physique is their type, most people also have a type when it comes to hair color, eye color, and personality, but the producers still seem to cast a wide range of those traits. This season’s cast has blondes, brunettes, a red head, women from Arizona to New York, with jobs ranging from a fashion blogger to a cattle rancher, to a foster parent recruiter. Clearly the producers understand that a diverse cast is needed, however, they haven’t been able to diversify their body types. Over the years it has improved, but the show also lacks some diversity in the racial and ethnic backgrounds of the contestants.

   I’m quite surprised the ABC hit has not made any move to change their ways, especially with the current push for body positivity both in the entertainment industry and in society as a whole. For instance, in 2015, during the the fourteenth season of Lifetime’s fashion design competition, Project Runway, the designer who won that season, Ashley Tipton, sent a full plus-size collection down the runway during the finale for the first time in the show’s history. To continue this trend, in its sixteenth season the show decided to have a wide range of sizes of models for the entire season. The models ranged from size two to 22, and all the designers had to design for different models and sizes throughout the season. 

   If a show involving modeling and fashion will, an industry that was predominantly populated by petite women can open the door for all sizes, why can’t a reality competition show for love do the same?

   Although many people view this show as a joke, which can be seen in the memes and tweets that fill Twitter after each episode, it still has a massive audience. According to a Variety article, this season’s The Bachelor premiere brought in over six million views. 

   Regardless of age, girls, boys, men, and women who watch the shows could see only petite women or buff men and think they do not look skinny or strong enough. Even if it is not conscious thought, the repetition of this image in the show, other shows, magazines, and social media can have a lasting impact on one’s self-esteem and body image.

   ABC and The Bachelor franchise need to catch up with the times. The show will continue to be just as entertaining and addicting, regardless of if the women are a size two or if the men can bench 200lbs. If anything, their viewer pool could grow if people begin to see a diverse cast of body sizes step out of the limo at the Bachelor Mansion. 

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