Sarah Herron, the "girl with one arm", one of the competitors, candidates or bachelorettes in the The Bachelor series where a guy - here, he is called Sean - gets to meet a few dozen women and pick one "to spend the rest of his life with", is a below elbow amputee. So I found it rather interesting to review the series from point of view of disability dating and what else there is in terms of social aspects.
Sean: "I would love to find my wife in this group of ladies. So, here is to this amazing adventure, that we are about to embark upon, lets go into it open % minded!" (The Bachelor Season 17 Episode 1, about 0:51).
At the time of %, the camera fully shows Sarah Herron for a full 2-3 seconds toasting to this statement, while beforehand the camera was panning around elsewhere.
There is a spark of insincerity here.
The opening here is really awkward.
To say "let us be, um, eh, open, eh, minded" is white American coded English that could as well mean "let us find a sneaky way to wiggle out of this because we, um, eh, sure as hell cannot address, eh, um, the, oops, real issues that pose themselves here".
I sense a coordinated aspect of the makers of the show.
I sense that the makers (not Sean) have put here there.
I sense she is getting exploited for voyeurism. Understandable at a time when TV series makers also put on stuff such as The Undatables or the AMC Freakshow.
But then, surprisingly early in this show, Sean gives Sarah a rose. For her, it makes a world of difference.
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Sarah Herron says: "I am insecure when it comes to, .. , sometimes I feel I do not deserve what everyone else gets. I think having one arm intimidates a lot of young guys that assume that dating me would be more emotional work. They feel like it is easier just to date a girl with two arms. I am a pretty strong person and I can rationalize things pretty well until I get to thinking about why I am single. And the only thing that comes to mind why I am still single is because I only have one arm. (...) A rose is really important to me tonight because it means that Sean did not just automatically discredit me. He thinks I am interesting, he would not be making a judgement call just based on my physical appearance so I need one of these roses like the other girls. I don't want to be the last girls standing without a rose tonight. (...) This rose means a lot to me. It is validation that I am good enough and it is interesting enough for someone to want to keep me around long enough to get to know me better. It is a huge symbol of empowerment and confidence and love. I can not believe I am here, I cannot believe I am holding one of these roses. This is a total dream come true. " (The Bachelor Season 17 Episode 1, about 1:07).
Of course she is right.
Dating is really hard.
One gets to know people, acquantances, friends, dates, also people with a handicap - but maybe it can be really hard to find a good match.
It may be the worst place on earth to do that on a Bachelor show - but then, what does not kill me makes me stranger, right?
Kelly who was booted off on the first night said this one thing: "I want to be in love. But is it really worth it? I think some times it is easier to focus on things to make yourself happy than to open yourself up to, you know, to love, because it hurts".
This is an extremely relevant statement. I subscribe to that.
It is the daily, weekly, monthly and annual norm for many people with a disability.
Based on chance alone, you are so likely to have strange or unpleasant encounters in the whole dating arena that it is better business in terms of placing your bet, technically, on spending time doing other things, and in my experience, just about anything is usually better than screening possible acquaintances for their cheap excuses or horrid imagination, bad behavior or whatever else it is that my disability triggers in them. With a disfigurement and disability such as an arm amputation, I find that I get put into the position of projection surface of other folks' weird ideas. They act these out on that surface (not on me, obviously). Walking out of such situations is not a personal thing. It is like walking away from a punch and judy, from a puppet theater, of sorts.
On the other hand, focusing energies and putting attention to date in a way that makes the process fast and easy weighs greatly.
Whereas technical focus on reducing negative date pain seems to be a comfort thing for non-disabled people, it might prove definitely helpful to avoid bad dates at all cost if you have a handicap.
In episode 4, Sarah has to skate and she falls, more than once.
When I get to the track I suddenly realize this is not just an emotional hurdle. This is truly a physical hurdle. It's hard (she cries). My body works in different ways. I don't have right balance and I don't have two arms to prop myself back up quickly. It's really hard when in moment like this I just want to be normal. This is really hard. Trying to impress an amazing guy and show everyone that I can be strong.
I never have seen such an emotionally strong arm amputee.
We are all really handicapped when it comes to balance, when it comes to exposing ourselves to getting stared at, and even more when it comes to exposing ourselves to rejections such as on dates.
Obviously, having a balance with one arm is really hard, and to overcome that, loads of sports is necessary. I swim substantial amounts of butterfly, have great core strength and still sprained my wrist and probably popped some ligaments about two weeks ago when I slipped on a slippery parking lot with ice.
So I truly feel with Sarah on this one. It hurts physically, but it hurts the ego multiple times to fall with a handicap because so much more is at stake.
She is to be congratulated not just to expose her emotional strength to explain to everyone what is going on with her, but also, that she still hangs in there. It must mean more to her to be there than anything in the whole wild world. This really exposes a rare degree of loyalty here. That is what I find most intriguing about her. What a personality!
She keeps a really good sense about what is good for her, she tries out all these things no one should ask an arm amputee to do, and with everything, has superb common sense about herself and the world around her. I am impressed.
As I suspected, episode 6 has Sean tell Sarah that she will not be in his heart.
I'm just embarrassed. I'm embarrassed about the whole thing. I just want to fall in love, and that 100% I could fall in love with this guy.
I don't know what happened, I don't know if it's me. (...)
I don't know why it always happens to me. I wanted to stop him before he started because I knew what he was gonna say. (...) But I wanted to hear his explanation, because (cries) it is always the same.
"You're an amazing girl", "I know how special you are", and "I want to connect with you so bad, but I don't". (cries) and "Someone (cries) is going to be so lucky to have you" and "I don't want to put you through this".
I just don't want to be told forever. How great I am. What I deserve. I don't want to be told that forever.
It's just sad to think about, like, how did Sean see it and feel it in the beginning.
In my view, Sean comes across as a person that weighs symmetry, conformance and normalcy of external appearances massively.
He goes way beyond the call of duty in maintaining such an appearance that I think it raises rather serious questions about what type of person he is.
If a man builds his body just for appearances and does not mainly build actual male stamina - such as by doing competitive sports, climbing, cycling, and so on - there is an element of vanity there that is not to be neglected. That guy is so vain he must have quintuple checked when and how to best get rid of the disabled girl on the show.
Because I see nothing in his portrait, or behavior, that he'd ever agree to imperfections, to glitches. There seems to be nothing forgiving in his value system that one can visually perceive, see, take in, acknowledge.
After all, more people watch him than the US president. And he volunteered for that. There are two things the Bachelor show does - it surely will allow him to put himself over 25 of the 26 (initial) contestant, and it maybe will lead to a relationship. What type of guy will go public with the guaranteed prospect of surely being able to humiliate 25 out of 26 extremely attractive girls, and to maybe make out with one? Any person deserves to be treated with respect, and here, we have a unique scenario that allows for so much else for the sake of television entertainment. So, normal? Yeah, maybe that guy is normal. Who knows. If Sarah would have asked me, I would have recommended her to stay away from him. No good.
But she had to go there. To no surprise, Sarah is in pain now.
Myself? No. Never. I am not interested in getting all that pain. I won't bend over backward for it, not like that. Skating, ice skating - no, I would not sign up for that. Falling - even less interested. Dating in such a public situation - no. Having my heart getting served the cold heart card so smoothly, with these standard reject slip statements, no. What Sarah Herron did there seems to be heroic in my view. But I see nowhere that Sean deserved it. My guess is he will be back in 4-5 years looking for the next "love of his life".