Who Are The Youngest Contestants To Ever Go On The Bachelor?

"The Bachelor" has lasted roughly 20 years now as America's favorite guilty pleasure reality TV show (per The Cut). If you're a member of Bachelor Nation, though, you may know that the viewership has had a list of complaints of the show's format over the years that includes some casting decisions. From picking out contestants with racially insensitive pasts to those who were facing sexual assault allegations, "The Bachelor" has landed itself in quite a few controversies over the years (via Vox and Cosmopolitan). However, a less problematic complaint viewers have expressed over the span of the show's existence is the decision to cast women in their early 20s on a show where a proposal is often expected at the end of the season (via Insider).

This ongoing season of "Bachelor in Paradise" has seen these complaints resurface as many viewers feel uncomfortable with some of the relationships that have formed between contestants with double-digit age gaps, in which the women are younger (per Reddit). According to Insider, 79% of the women and 48% of the men on the show are 28 years old or younger. In a show where the men are often considerably older than the women, some say this is one of the reasons that the probability of these relationships lasting is so low. So, who is the youngest contestant in Bachelor history?

One of the youngest contestants comes from the most recent "Bachelor" season

Kit Keenan is one of the youngest contestants in the franchise's history, competing on the show when she was just 21 years old (via Life & Style). Keenan was featured in Season 25 of "The Bachelor," which had the show's first Black man as the lead — Matt James. At 21, Keenan was at the show's minimum age requirement, as alcohol is often served to the contestants (via Paste Magazine). While producers faced criticism in casting Keenan, she has proven to be an accomplished woman at a relatively young age. 

Keenan decided to follow in the footsteps of her mother, famous fashion designer Cynthia Rowley, and become an entrepreneur in the fashion industry. Keenan studied at NYU and has taken classes in marketing and financing, which have helped her start her own fashion line. Some viewers were wondering about the age gap between Keenan and James, who was 29 at the time of filming. Keenan ended up self-eliminating during the season before hometown dates and told James, "Getting married ... will probably be pushed a little longer than the other women," adding, "I wouldn't want to have kids until I'm 25, 26. I'm a longterm investment." 

There are two other contestants who were also 21 years old at the time of filming — professional dancer Cassandra Ferguson (from Juan Pablo's season) and Mackenzie Deonigi (from Chris Soules' season).

The youngest "Bachelorette" lead

Hannah Brown holds the title of the youngest lead of "The Bachelorette," being 24 years old at the time of filming (via Refinery29). At the time, former "Bachelorette" lead, Rachel Lindsay voiced her concerns regarding the casting decision, telling Page Six, "If you're wanting somebody who's committed to marriage and a proposal ... then you're going to have to choose older." The following season of "The Bachelorette" then saw the oldest lead of "The Bachelorette," Clare Crawley, after the viewership voiced complaints of the contestants from Peter Weber's season being too young (via Monsters and Critics and CNN). 

Crawley was 39 years old at the time of filming. In contrast, the average contestant on Weber's season was 25 years old (per Insider). Since then, the subsequent leads of "The Bachelorette” have also been older than Brown — Tayshia Adams (30 at time of filming), Katie Thurston (30), and Michelle Young (28) (per Parade, Cheatsheet, and ET Online). Additionally, the lead and contestants of the upcoming season of "The Bachelor" have already been announced, with nine women being 30 or older (via StyleCaster). Whether you think "age is but a number" or "the older you are, the wiser you are," many of the women from "The Bachelor" franchise, younger or older, come from impressive backgrounds and are dynamic personalities to watch on TV.