By Kerry Justich, Yahoo! Life
Abigail Heringer made history with her appearance on Season 25 of The Bachelor as the franchise’s first deaf contestant. Now, the 26-year-old is reflecting on her experience and sharing gratitude for how Bachelor Nation welcomed her.
“As 2021 starts to wrap up, I just wanted to say thank you to all of you for this past year. The amount of support and love I’ve experienced through DM’s, comments and more continues to blow me away,” Heringer wrote alongside a slideshow of photos of her wearing her cochlear implant — a small electronic device that helps to provide her with a sense of sound, although she was born completely deaf.
“When I first got the call saying that they wanted to cast me for The Bachelor, I called my mom in a panic,” she wrote. “I was excited but also so scared and unsure if I wanted to talk about my hearing loss on tv, especially on a show that hasn’t had much disability representation.”
While Heringer was ultimately celebrated for being on the show and bravely sharing her story during her first meeting with bachelor Matt James, she explained that she had reservations about being so open about her disability on television.
“After countless awkward interactions growing up, I had become so used to trying to ‘act normal’ which meant to me, undermining my hearing loss. Acting like I had nothing different about me,” Heringer shared. “I wouldn’t tell new friends, first dates, teachers and I felt guilty about it. I had something beautifully different about me and so when my mom said ‘if sharing your story can help just one person, one family, you should do it’, that’s all it took for me to say yes.”
Heringer went on to explain how going on the show changed her life “overnight.” More importantly, however, it was just the beginning of a longer journey to finding confidence to fully embrace her cochlear implant, which has long made her feel different.
“It took me 26 years,” she said of showing off her device. “But I got here and I’m not ready to stop sharing. I’d like to think a lot of you are here because either you have a similar situation, know someone that is deaf or hard of hearing, or simply just curious and want to learn more. And I’m happy you’re here.”
Heringer received an outpour of love and support in the comment section from fellow Bachelor contestants turned friends.
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