When I first found out that I had made the cut for Elle.com’s 2015 “41 Most Eligible Bachelors” roundup, I was excited.
That may sound cocky, but it was true. I felt flattered by the idea of being seen as eligible and handsome after growing up as a nerd in high school and never really having a girlfriend.
Thanks in part to social media and my website, much of my life is already public. Being featured in an article didn’t make me worry about putting myself out there.
But after the article ran nothing exciting or new really happened in my life because of it. Mostly I got teased. I did have one or two dates from it which eventually fizzled out.
Before being on one of these Most Eligible Bachelor lists, I hadn’t thought of them much. At best, I thought they were silly popularity contests. At worst, I thought they risked objectifying human beings into sound bites and glamour shots. And today, after the cascade of sexual harassment complaints around Harvey Weinstein, Louis CK and others, I view them now with even more curiosity and confusion.
A female friend of mine told me recently that if she was on a female version of the list, she would have an even harder time being taken seriously professionally. I hadn’t considered the embarrassment factor until someone used it in my bio when introducing me to a room of over 200 Australian tourism professionals. I enjoyed the fun it added to my persona as a public speaker, but it’s also rare that I’m objectified in work settings — a privilege that many white men are now rightfully confronting.
Yet I wondered; what happened to the other bachelors? Did being on a list like this change their lives at all?
I spoke with more than a dozen of them and what I found surprised me.