How bullying impacted Colton Underwood's life

Bachelor alum Colton Underwood, who ABC heavily marketed as it's first virgin Bachelor, has struggled with insecurity his entire life. In his tell-all book, cheekily titled The First Time, the 28-year-old reality TV hunk tells all about his childhood and tough teenage years, including how he was constantly bullied for his weight, his decision to remain celibate and his lack of social skills.

"There are a lot of stories and experiences that will help people understand the choices I've made," Underwood writes in the book, per an excerpt obtained by People. "And I'm done hiding who I really am." 

The former football pro says the shaming began in grade school when he lived in the small town of Washington, Ill. "I was called fatso, four eyes and four lips, because I used to lick my lips, so I would constantly have a red ring around them," he writes. "I was a little heavy, and that, combined with being socially awkward, led to a really hard time. I didn't believe in myself. And I was super insecure."

Bullies made Colton Underwood doubt his sexuality

Because Colton Underwood chose to abstain from sex, bullies called him gay. "It was one of those things where you hear something so often, you start believing it," he writes in The First Time. "I thought, maybe I am gay. The captain of the football team should be having sex and drinking, right? But I wasn't."

The star was so confused about his sexuality that he would even search online for answers. "I didn't know who I was," he says in the book. "And I come from an athletic family, so it was always, 'Move on, you're good.' So that threw me off. In high school, when I was struggling with my sexuality, I'm not going to talk to my parents about it. So I internalized it."

According to People, his insecurity issues somewhat ceased when he met his first serious girlfriend, Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman. Their relationship was very, very public, and actually started when Underwood asked Raisman out in a Yahoo! Sports video in August 2016. Raisman responded via Twitter and weeks later they were official.

Colton Underwood begins his reality TV journey

Colton Underwood and Aly Raisman's romance made headlines, but lasted less than a year. After his relationship with Raisman ended, Underwood went on to appear on Becca Kufrin's season of The Bachelorette in 2018. 

Underwood refused to talk about Raisman while on the ABC reality show and even told Us Weekly"To be very candid about it, she's going through enough right now. She doesn't deserve to be in this at all. I have so much love and respect for Aly and the voice that she is and the role model that she is for every young woman out there." At the time, the Olympian was in the midst of a legal battle regarding the sexual assault she suffered at the hands of former USA gymnastics national team doctor, Larry Nassar.

On the show, Underwood became one of Kufrin's finalists, and fell deeply in love. Still, she ended up choosing Garrett Yrigoyen, her now fiancé (with whom she has "zero wedding plans"). From there, Underwood continued his Bachelor franchise journey. After a stint on Bachelor in Paradise, Underwood was pegged as the leading man for the 23rd season of The Bachelor.

Colton Underwood's bullying continued on 'The Bachelor'

While looking for love on The Bachelor, Colton Underwood continued to fight through his insecurities and stand up against bullies. His season's storyline centered around the fact he was a virgin, and because of that, he received quite a bit of  backlash and criticism from online haters, bringing him back to his grade school bullying days.

"Even while my season was airing, I battled the gay [rumors]," Underwood writes The First Time, per People. "They'd say, 'he's gay, he's hiding it.' No. But I've been there, done that now." Eventually, however, Underwood found true love with his finalist, Cassie Randolph. At the time of this writing, the two are still together and she is even taking care of him at her parents' house in California as he recovers from the novel coronavirus.

"I finally found somebody I really just want to be with," Underwood says of Randolph is his book. "I want my life to be with Cassie. I know who I am. And that's really all that matters."

Underwood's book, The First Time, will hit stands on March 31, 2020.