What Being On 'The Bachelor' Is Really Like

by Nicole Pomarico

Just from watching The Bachelor at home, it looks like being a contestant is a blast. Aside from the obvious ultimate reward of potentially meeting the man you'll spend the rest of your life with, there seem to be numerous other perks: living in a sweet mansion, free international travel, and unlimited alcohol, just to name a few. But is being on The Bachelor really that much fun, or is there more to it than that? Sure, the show doesn't have the best track record, but many people leave having found love or even a new squad of best friends. But even though the hot tub and all those roses look pretty glamorous, after a little research, it seems like a day in the life of a Bachelor contestant isn't always all it's cracked up to be.

Although I'm sure there is plenty about the show that past contestants are contractually obligated to keep their lips zipped about, there has also been plenty of information they've spilled, whether it's in interviews or in tell-all books written about their experiences. It's true — The Bachelor provides you with a family of people who know what you've been through, but it's not all getting dressed up in pretty dresses for cocktail parties and drinking the night away.

If you've ever wanted to know what it's like to be a Bachelor contestant without ever setting foot in that gorgeous mansion, read on. It's like actually being there! But, like, with less Chris Harrison.

You're Basically Shut Off From The Entire World

It probably doesn't come as too much of a surprise to you that contestants aren't allowed to bring their phones or laptops to filming with them, but they're also stripped of a lot of other personal belongings to ensure they're totally cut off from the outside world and are 100 percent focused on the idea that they want to marry whoever the Bachelor happens to be. In an interview with The Daily Beast, former contestant Leslie Hughes said she was only able to have her bible and her journal with her, and that contestants "have to talk to each other — we have nothing else to do."

And as former Bachelorette Jillian Harris told Allure, it's all part of the plan to get those emotions flowing:

When the cameras aren't rolling, they don't want you to talk to anyone. And there are no phones, computers, newspapers, nothing. Only producers. Your body becomes starved for a connection with anyone, which makes it easier to fall in love. You're starving for that intimacy. It was like Stockholm syndrome, but it's a TV show.

What You Do During The Day

Even though you aren't posting to Instagram, talking to your friends and family, or going to work, life in the Bachelor mansion is surprisingly normal. According to Hughes, you're still responsible for your own cooking and laundry, but you can't leave and you get exactly zero alone time, which contributes to the fact that everyone seems to be one rose ceremony away from a total breakdown. And as Bachelor winner Catherine Giudici told Allure, their time is very structured and it's totally at the whim of what producers allow the women to do. She said,

Well, you can't leave the mansion or hotel you're staying at. We'd sometimes get 30 minutes of gym time. Actually, there was one time they allowed us to get our nails done, and it was a big deal. There are these things called "dark days" on the day after the rose-ceremony taping. Rose ceremonies last until 4 a.m. or 6 a.m. so the next day is dark. One time, they allowed us to watch movie. Another time, we went to a spa and could get two things done ... We did each other's hair because there was nothing else to do. Selma [Alameri] brought her waxing machine, and she'd set up a little shop for the girls. "I'm only doing faces," she said.

The Food

Katie Levans, from Sean Lowe's season, said in an interview with College Candy that there is more than enough food to go around, and that the producers responsible for keeping the fridge stocked are definitely willing to make sure all of the women have the food they want and that their dietary restrictions allow. She said:

It’s weird, but the mansion becomes your home so it’s kind of like a really jacked up, well-stocked sorority house. The pantry, fridge, freezer, etc. were all overflowing with food to accommodate everyone’s dietary restrictions — I’m vegetarian, Catherine’s vegan, Kacie B’s gluten-free. You cook for yourself, but at rose ceremonies they lay out a whole catered spread. There was also a lot of candy. I recall eating so so so many M&Ms.

But as for the food you see the contestants consuming during one-on-one dates? According to what Courtney Robertson wrote in her book, I Didn't Come Here To Make Friends, that food isn't actually eaten while you're on camera, because that would be awkward — and you don't order your own food, but producers will order what you like.

The Drinking

From the amount of women who get drunk on that first limo arrival night every season, it seems obvious that the booze is free flowing — especially since Hughes added that it's the producers' way of becoming "more talkative, more sensitive" for the cameras. It might sound like the contestants are encouraged to drink, but Levans says that "it's a self-serve situation" and everyone chooses whether they drink or not. Some people obviously indulge a lot, though.

You Do All Your Own Hair/Makeup

Although the women get hair and makeup professionally done on the first night, the fun ends there, and everyone's required to bring their own wardrobe for the show. Levans said that she bought what she could on the cheap and borrowed her rose ceremony dresses from a local boutique. One major perk? In Guidici's interview, she added that when she moved into the mansion, everybody got gifts: "A piece of luggage with a ton of clothing, jewelry, and beauty [products]. There were bikinis, jewelry, and jeans. You could trade if they didn't give you the right sizes. It was nice stuff!"

While there are definitely perks to Bachelor life, it sounds like it can also be pretty stressful, especially when it comes to preparing to be on camera without any professional help. But at least the food sounds amazing? And those gifts don't hurt, either. Ready to try out yet? If you make it on, please get back to me on that food supply. It sounds amazing.

Images: Rick Rowell/ABC, Giphy, bachelorabc/Tumblr (3)