I am a junkie for The Bachelor – I watch The Bachelor, Bachelorette, Bachelor in Paradise, and the Canadian versions. I know it’s a trash show, but something about it is oddly addicting. There are dozens of issues with The Bachelor, but one of the main issues is the lack of representation. Soon, the show will be featuring its first black Bachelor after 18 years – yes there have been 18 years of only white male leads. The contestant side of things has been pretty homogenous too – most years there are 90% white contestants. There is also a total lack of body diversity – there has only ever been one plus sized contestant ever. Given all of this, I was over the moon to be able to read a realistic take on what a season of The Bachelorette lead by a plus sized woman would be like.
Real love…as seen on TV
Bea Schumacher is a devastatingly stylish plus-size fashion blogger who has amazing friends, a devoted family, legions of Insta followers–and a massively broken heart. Like the rest of America, Bea indulges in her weekly obsession: the hit reality show Main Squeeze. The fantasy dates! The kiss-off rejections! The surprising amount of guys named Chad! But Bea is sick and tired of the lack of body diversity on the show. Since when is being a size zero a prerequisite for getting engaged on television?
Just when Bea has sworn off dating altogether, she gets an intriguing call: Main Squeeze wants her to be its next star, surrounded by men vying for her affections. Bea agrees, on one condition–under no circumstances will she actually fall in love. She’s in this to supercharge her career, subvert harmful anti-fat beauty standards, inspire women across America, and get a free hot air balloon ride. That’s it.
But when the cameras start rolling, Bea realizes things are more complicated than she anticipated. She’s in a whirlwind of sumptuous couture, Internet culture wars, sexy suitors, and an opportunity (or two, or five) to find messy, real-life love in the midst of a made-for-TV fairy tale. In this joyful, razor-sharp debut, Bea has to decide whether it might just be worth trusting these men–and herself–for a chance to live happily ever after.
Bea was far from a wallflower – she knew how to roll with the punches and didn’t take jabs laying down. When she found out a contestant was only there to promote his weight loss company, she dismissed him then and there. Same for when she found men being blatant assholes on a date. Even better, she was wry and skeptical – she didn’t allow herself to be manipulated by the TV producers. Even though she was tough as nails, she wasn’t without insecurities – she contemplated ending the entire process due to how being showcased on national TV made her feel. Ultimately, she was a character with a lot of room to grow, and that growth was a delight to read.
Since we definitely won’t get a plus sized Bachelorette any time soon (given the shows current anti-diversity streak) – One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London was solid wish fulfillment. The author didn’t pull any punches when it came to what it was like to be a plus sized woman on social media and in the spotlight – there were nasty trolls, plenty of naysayers, and men who wanted to leave as soon as they saw who was leading their season. The reception of Bea wasn’t entirely negative, however – the show runner was passionate about her success (we love women supporting women) and the author also showcased the support Bea received from women who were finally being represented on screen.
One to Watch is a perfect book for fans of The Bachelor who are tired of the lack of body positivity and diversity on the show. Bea was a bad ass lady who knew how to put herself first and continued to develop her sense of self-worth throughout the book. She was a perfect leading lady for this book, and I loved reading about her self-love and self-value. I hope Kate Stayman-London writes more reimagines of popular shows in the future – I’ll definitely be reading whatever she writes next. 5/5