ABC Abigail Heringer.
Last week, Bachelor Nation introduced its first deaf contestant. Abigail Heringer made a splash with Matt James, taking home the first impression rose, and with fans, becoming a trending topic on Google.
During an interview with the Statesman Journal, her mother Suzie provided insight into her history-making turn on the dating competition.
After Heringer was furloughed from her job as a Client Financial Manager at the Opus Agency, she decided to apply for the dating competition. “I was surprised she was willing to share her story about her hearing loss,” Suzie said. “It’s something she usually doesn’t talk much about.”
The publication says Suzie wonders if the emphasis on diversity this season, with James serving as the franchise’s first Black Bachelor, helped in her daughter’s casting. “With her disability, if that can impact one other person, it’s worth sharing the story,” she said.
Heringer and her sister Rachel both have congenital hearing loss. When she was 2 years old, Hering went through the procedure to implant a cochlear implant at the Oregon Health & Science University.
While Suzie has her doubts about the show’s ability to find lasting love, saying, “I don’t think this is a great way to meet your forever person,” she did admit “Actually, in the age of COVID, it’s a safe way to date.”
A hallmark of appearing on The Bachelor is the prerequisite wardrobe, which includes a number of cocktail dresses and gowns for the contestant to wear to various dates, cocktail parties and rose ceremonies. While some women shell out a lot of money to dress the part, Suzie told the Statesman Journal that Heringer is frugal.
“My guess is her wardrobe will be the least expensive there,” Heringer’s mother said.
Despite the surprise at her daughter’s willingness to go on the show, she is not worried about her portrayal. “She’s always made us proud, and she’s got a really good head on her shoulders, so I’m not worried about anything,” her mom said. “Hopefully, she’ll have fun.”
Though, she did give her one piece of advice: “I jokingly told her to remember her grandparents will be watching. I know that will stick with her.”
Heringer Was Upfront About Being Deaf
During her night one introduction, Heringer was upfront about being deaf.
“So there’s something a little bit different about me,” she told the real estate broker. “And that is I’m deaf. So I’m going to be reading your lips a lot tonight, but thankfully you have really beautiful lips. So I’m not complaining!”
“I love that,” James responded. “I’m going to enunciate for you.”
During their later conversation, Heringer got the first kiss of the night and took home the first impression rose. While it has yet to be seen how far she makes it in the competition, first impression rose recipients often make it far.
This Season Has Seen Increased Diversity
While Heringer is the first deaf contestant, her casting is not the only historic moment for diversity in the franchise.
James was announced as the first Black Bachelor amid the Black Lives Matter protests during an outcry from franchise fans and alum.
A Change.org petition released before James’ casting said, “ABC and Warner Bros. have been producing Bachelor content for 18 years. During that time they’ve cast 40 season leads, yet only one Black lead. This is unacceptable.”
The petition called Bachelor Nation, “one of the most popular and influential franchises on television” and called on it to “reflect and honor the racial diversity of our country–both in front of and behind the camera.”
The network’s president, Karey Burke, has since pledge for increased diversity. “This is just the beginning, and we will continue to take action with regard to diversity issues in the franchise,” she said. “We feel so privileged to have Matt as our first Black Bachelor and we cannot wait to embark on this journey with him.”
Heringer’s journey for love continues tonight on ABC at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
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