We Have a Conversation With Bachelorette Clare Crawley About Diversity, Her Identity, and Her Status As the First Latina Lead: ‘I Embrace It’
When Clare Crawley was announced in March as the newest “Bachelorette” for the popular reality TV series, the media wanted to focus on one thing and one thing only: her age. At 39-years-old, Crawley is the show’s oldest Bachelorette to date. And the network doesn’t want you to forget it.
Promo materials included Crawley posing as Mrs. Robinson from “The Graduate”. The tagline was “It’s about time” (Because she’s waited so long…get it? Yeah, neither do we). The resounding narrative was that, because of her age, this is her last chance at love. Which, for the record, is patently false.
But coincidentally Crawley has another, much more exciting “first” under her belt: born to an American father and a Mexican mother, Clare Crawley is the franchise’s first Latina Bachelorette.
In an exclusive interview with Mitú, Crawley told us that her status as the first Latina Bachelorette is a happy accident. “That’s not something that was ever really brought up to me or ever even made a point,” she said of her casting. But it is a coincidence that she fully embraces. “I would gladly take the Latina Bachelorette!” she said, laughing. “That’s way better than saying I’m the oldest Bachelorette!”
Crawley knows that her fair-haired, light-skinned appearance might confuse some viewers about her heritage. When asked if she ever struggled with her identity (as many children of mixed-race parents have reported), Crawley said she never had that problem. “No, no, no. I embraced it. This is something that I’ve always talked about, it’s part of my everyday life.”
Crawley went on to describe the customs and traditions she experiences as a woman of Mexican descent. “My mom speaks Spanish all the time and lots of foods we ate growing up [were Mexican]. It was definitely something in my life throughout.”
She then lovingly described her favorite (and familiar) Mexican tradition: making tamales with her (five!) older sisters during Christmastime. “And when I say we make tamales, I mean, we literally make like 12 dozen of them. So, we make them for all our friends, everyone wants them.”
Although Clare grew up in a mixed-race household, she explained that she was largely unaware of the challenges her mother faced as a Mexican woman trying to make a life for herself in conservative Georgia.
“Back in the day, just because [my mother’s] skin was darker, people [in Georgia] didn’t talk to her. People didn’t want to hang out with her. It was really hard for her,” Crawley told Mitú. “It was something I didn’t realize affected her…Because when you think of racism or that kind of stuff, it’s not just towards one race.” Crawley’s family ended up moving to Sacramento–a community that proved to be more accepting of her mother’s heritage.
Crawley, for her part, knows that when many people think of a “typical” Latina woman, the image of her isn’t the first one that comes to mind. But as we know, there is no such thing as a “typical” Latina.
“[People] look at my skin color, they look at my hair color, or eye color, and automatically just say: ‘Oh, this white girl’. And they’ll make jokes and they’ll make off-handed things like that, but they have no idea. And I speak up, and I say it, and I defend it because it’s definitely something I’m proud of.”
And to the critics that say she’s “not Latina enough” because of the way she looks, she pays them no mind. “I think that’s their problem, not mine,” she says. “Because there’s no denying what my genetics and my DNA are. So if people have a problem with it or challenge it or question it, I think it’s just ignorant.”
As for “The Bachelor” franchise and their push for more diversity (they finally casted their first Black “Bachelor”), Clare is hopeful. “I want people to be aware, more and more, that it’s 2020 and here moving forward…embrace diversity. Because everybody, every age, every shape, everything you can imagine, people in general are worthy of love.”
“At the end of the day, you need to do what’s best for yourself,” she explained to Mitú. “Because you’re the one you have to go to bed with at night. Your conscience, your heart is the one that you have to live with…You have to live your life in a way that honors yourself. So, stand by that and you won’t regret it.”
You can catch “The Bachelorette” every Tuesday on ABC at 8p.m.
*This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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