On a season of The Bachelor that will make strides for racial equality with the show’s first ever Black lead in Matt James, another contestant will be knocking down a different barrier for equality. Abigail Heringer will be the first deaf person to ever compete on the show.
Heringer, 25, lives in Portland, Oregon and works for an advertising agency. According to her mother, who spoke to the Salem Statesman Journal, both Abigail and her sister, Rachel, were born with congenital hearing loss. They each underwent surgery to receive cochlear implants at age 2.
“I was surprised she was willing to share her story about her hearing loss,” Abigail’s mother, Suzie Heringer, said. “It’s something she usually doesn’t talk much about… With her disability, if that can impact one other person, it’s worth sharing the story.”
Representation has long been an issue for The Bachelor franchise, although the majority of that criticism has been about the lack of racial minorities among the casts of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. The franchise has also only shown one same-sex couple in its history, when Demi Burnett and Kristian Haggerty dated and eventually got engaged on Bachelor in Paradise.
On New Zealand’s version of The Bachelor, contestant Lily McManus — who later competed on The Bachelor Winter Games — wore hearing aids due to hearing loss. Heringer will be the first person with hearing loss on the United States’ version of the show.
WARNING: IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO KNOW ANY SPOILERS FROM SEASON 25 OF ‘THE BACHELOR,’ DO NOT KEEP READING.
The First Promo for Matt James’ Season Has Been Released
James, 28, is a bit of a unicorn as The Bachelor for more reasons than just his race. He’s also the first lead of the show in over a decade who didn’t previously appear on a season of The Bachelorette. While he was initially announced as one of Clare Crawley’s suitors, he was elevated to his more prestigious role on The Bachelor during the lengthy filming delay caused by COVID-19.
With the premiere of his season less than two months away, ABC released a 30-second promo for James’ season that shows him with a few of the contestants.
The commercial makes it tough to identify any of the women he’s kissing or any of the women crying, but it certainly looks like Abigail Heringer is one getting a kiss from James about 18 seconds into the video.
That’s not surprising considering the one significant spoiler that has been revealed about the season so far.
Abigail Heringer Receives Matt James’ First Impression Rose
Spoilers expert Reality Steve says that Heringer is the one who catches James’ eye on the first night and receives his First Impression Rose.
While the First Impression Rose didn’t exist until season 10 of The Bachelor, it is usually an indicator that the recipient will have a lengthy run on the show (for obvious reasons). Only one woman has ever received that rose and not been one of the final 10 contestants, and that was Ashley Spivey who finished 11th on season 15. Six women who received the First Impression Rose were in the final two.
History tells us that Heringer will be around for a while when The Bachelor begins in January.