Season 25 of “The Bachelor” kicked off Monday night, and one of the contestants is already making “Bachelor” history!
Abigail Heringer, a client financial manager from Beaverton, Oregon, is the show's first contestant who is deaf. She's one of the 32 women vying for the heart of Matt James, 29, who is also making history this season as the first Black "Bachelor."
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Heringer, 25, said on Monday night's episode she "was born completely deaf." The Statesman Journal reported Heringer received a cochlear implant when she was 2 years old. Heringer has been open about her hearing loss during her time on “The Bachelor” so far.
"So there's something a little bit different about me," she told James during their introduction on the show. "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 replied. "I'm going to enunciate for you."
Heringer's official "Bachelor" bio reads: “Abigail is a beautiful soul from the Pacific Northwest who says that nothing makes her happier than enjoying a cold local microbrew on a beautiful Oregon day. Having a hearing impairment never stopped Abigail from living her life to the fullest.”
In an interview with the Statesman Journal, her mom, Suzie Heringer, said she was “surprised” her daughter was so candid about her hearing loss on the show.
"It's something she usually doesn't talk much about,” she said. "With her disability, if that can impact one other person, it's worth sharing the story.”
Heringer’s story definitely resonated with “Bachelor” fans after Monday's premiere. She retweeted one fan who pointed out that a search for the term “cochlear implant” was trending on Google that night.
“This is why representation is important,” the Twitter user wrote. “Look at how many people are educating themselves on the deaf community and cochlear implants just from abigail’s story.”
Elena LaQuatra, a reporter at WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh who is deaf and advocates for “oral deaf education and Cochlear Implants,” according to her Twitter bio, also praised Heringer for sharing her story.
"I’m obviously SUPER biased and big time cheering for @AbigailHeringer on @BachelorABC,” she wrote on Twitter. “Proudly opening up about her hearing loss & cochlear implants. Thanks for representing us girlfriend!”
Another viewer shared that seeing lip reading on “The Bachelor” reminded her of her own love story.
“Love that lip reading showed up on #TheBachelor tonight thanks to @AbigailHeringer,” the fan tweeted. “My love story is almost 16 years strong and it is very much in thanks to my lip reading and @CochlearUS proud husband!”
Another Twitter user, who says she is training to be a pediatric audiologist, added that this representation of hearing loss on “The Bachelor” will mean a lot to her patients.
"Cannot wait for my patients to see @AbigailHeringer on the #Bachelor tonight and for so many people to learn more about #cochlearimplants and #hearingloss!” she tweeted. “Hoping she goes all the way!”
So far, so good on that count — Heringer received the coveted "Bachelor" first-impression rose from James, so she is definitely off to a strong start!