From the moment she stepped out of the limo outside the infamous Bachelor Mansion, Edith Aguirre made jaws drop. The flowing pearlescent gray hair, the sexy gold lamé gown, the warm smile — Aguirre was immediately the star of my and countless other group chats. Mine resoundingly agreed that she is who we all want to be someday. “Edith is a mega babe!” the group chat message chimed. “I ASPIRE.”
The 61-year-old was the first contestant to meet Gerry Turner, who has taken the lead role in ABC’s “The Golden Bachelor,” with an extra helping of golden in the form of a tan only surfers and spray tan salon employees achieve.
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The series is the network’s foray into aging up their juggernaut “Bachelor/Bachelorette” franchise, bringing on a 72-year-old Bachelor and 22 women ages 60 to 75 to compete for his affection. And it’s been a huge hit with fans across age brackets, who have been warmed and inspired by Turner’s tearful earnestness as he talks about his late wife, Toni, and his hope to find love again in both the most Hollywood and un-Hollywood of ways: on a massive reality TV show with an age-appropriate woman. Leo DiCaprio could never.
Upon seeing Edith, it was clear not just to Turner but to viewers at home that these ladies would defy every expectation of what an “old woman” is, can be and deserves. The season created conversations around how society devalues women after a certain age, desirability, and how much more life — and love — every contestant and, more broadly, senior women in general can aspire to have.
“At this age, people think that you don’t need love because you’re older, you have grandkids and all that, but I guess the heart still is the same, from being a young teenager to this age. I think the heart doesn’t know the difference,” said Aguirre, a mom of three and grandmother of two. “I really want to tell the whole world we still want love at this age.”
Out of 30,000 applicants, Aguirre along with a cabal of fabulous, hilarious, tough women were chosen. From the jump, they were the real stars — showing up for each other, looking gorgeous, demanding chairs during rose ceremonies (I mean, who at any age can stand in heels for hours!), speaking openly about their sex lives, struggling with gassiness and Facetime, and reminding everyone watching that life isn’t over at any age.
“All the women are just beautiful,” Aguirre told me. “I can’t say anything bad about them. We all supported each other.”
Originally from a ”teeny, teeny” town in Guerrero that’s so small I can’t even find it on a map, she immigrated to Los Angeles with her mom, Catalina, from Acapulco at 5 years old, but spent summers back in Guerrero at her grandparents’ homes as a teen since her mom’s intense work schedule would leave her alone at home.
The show’s cultural impact is apparent, from our preoccupation with astrology to clips of the show making the rounds on social media.
A proud L.A. girl and Latina, she graduated from South Gate High School in 1981 and started supporting her mom at age 17 by working full-time after school at a hotel.
After years of odd jobs, she went on to work as a clerk at the L.A. Superior Court for 15 years, a job she said she dreamed of having since age 6 after spending hours in court proceedings as her parents fought for custody over her. More reinvention followed, with Aguirre moving into real estate, high-end tailoring for celebrities like Khloé Kardashian, Katy Perry and Janelle Monáe, and now, designing and selling jewelry and clothing on her website, Tozistar.
Aguirre, who lives in Downey, has watched “The Bachelor” with her daughter for years. When they saw a casting call for “seniors looking for love” on the screen after an episode of the show, Aguirre’s daughter decided she was going to submit Aguirre’s photo.
“I’m like, ‘Yeah, sure,’ but I never thought that actually she did, and then a year and a half later they called me,” she recalled. “I was just overwhelmed. I don’t think I even believed it after the second call. I was in shock, and I’m thinking, ‘I wonder if it’s really real.’”
When I asked Aguirre why she thinks she might have stood out, she said being Latina, being herself and her hair.
Let’s talk about the hair because her hair is incredible. It’s big, bouncy, and a beautiful, soft silver that looks as if Storm from “X-Men” had a lucrative brand deal with Garnier Fructis. However, getting to that took years, especially with the pressures of her culture and society’s pressures on women to retain youth over everything.
“We’ve been brought up that you know, we should dye our hair,” said Aguirre, who started going gray at age 17. ”My mom to this day still dyes her hair. [This idea that] gray is not good. It’s that you’re letting yourself go. That’s how we got programmed.”
Latino history in the U.S. is chronically under-covered in schools, according to a report from the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy and UnidosUS, an advocacy organization.
“You know what changed my life?” she added. “Five years ago, I was tired of dyeing my hair for over 30 years. I was tired of all the chemicals. I learned how to love myself. I was so happy with loving myself that I embraced my gray. And it was the biggest thing that changed everything. Everything went well for me when I turned gray.”
A photo of Aguirre posted on her daughter’s Instagram led to a modeling gig with WOW Skin Science, and more modeling followed.
It wasn’t only her natural hair she embraced. She stopped getting Botox years ago (though she admits she got a bit of a brow lift before heading to the Bachelor mansion) and doesn’t wear much makeup.
“I finally learned how to love myself and accept myself at my age,” she said. “I’m accepting who I am, with my wrinkles. And these wrinkles, it’s history. I want it to show because this is who I am. You have to love yourself and say, ‘You know what, I don’t care. This is a part of who I am.’”
While it didn’t work out for Aguirre and Turner, who is set to choose between fitness instructor Leslie Fhima and wide-eyed chatty Cathy Theresa Nist (Aguirre is Team Theresa), she knows love is still out there for her. She’s looking for a romantic who loves to travel, enjoys going out for dinner, dancing, hiking and generally wants to enjoy life together. “I don’t have a picture of what kind of person it is,” Aguirre said. “I just know that I’m going to find him. I just haven’t found him yet.”
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Any interested señores better get a move on, though, because Aguirre’s already getting letters and DMs.
“The Golden Bachelor” has brought so much more to Aguirre’s life, and she’s “embracing the love that all the people have given me.” And there’s plenty of it.
Alex Zaragoza is a television writer and journalist covering culture and identity. Her work has appeared in Vice, NPR, O Magazine and Rolling Stone. She’s written on the series “Primo” and “Lopez v. Lopez.” She writes weekly for De Los.