Bachelorette finalist Justin Glaze reflects on his new life as a meme

Glaze stole Katie Thurston's season with his facial expressions, now seen on GIFs everywhere. "Can Justin PLEASE be the Bachelor??? I need a whole season with these faces," says one fan.

Meara Isenberg Writer
Meara covers streaming service news for CNET. She recently graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, where she wrote for her college newspaper, The Daily Texan, as well as for state and local magazines. When she's not writing, she likes to dote over her cat, sip black coffee and try out new horror movies.
Meara Isenberg
4 min read

In one GIF, Bachelorette finalist Justin Glaze looks stunned, his eyes wide and mouth gaping. In another, as he listens to something he doesn't seem to like, his eyes narrow and then roll as he takes a deep breath.

These are just two of the many faces of Glaze, a 27-year-old investment sales consultant from Baltimore whose colorful expressions captured the internet's attention during the 17th season of the ABC reality dating show.

Glaze, who's also a painter, was one of the final two men left standing during Katie Thurston's season, which ended last week. Though Thurston ultimately got engaged to Blake Moynes -- a latecomer to the show who also appeared on Claire Crawley's and Tayshia Adams' season of The Bachelorette -- Glaze walks away with a distinction no other guy in the house can claim: meme fame. 

"I've been called out on the facial expressions for quite some time now," Glaze told me over Zoom on Thursday. "But it wasn't until I saw myself on TV that I was like, 'OK, this is what people are talking about.'"

A search for "Justin" and "Bachelorette" on Twitter takes you through a gallery of over-the-top expressions. In one picture, grabbed from a confessional, Glaze's jaw hangs open. There's another of him looking up from an easel on a group date, with his hand under his chin and his eyes looking straight into the camera

And as the show unfolded, fans couldn't get enough. "I'm sorry, but Justin's face steals every scene, it's absolutely incredible," wrote one Twitter user. Wrote another, "At this point only watching to see Justin's reactions." 

Some even argued Justin's expressions were faces fit for the next star of The Bachelor. "Can Justin PLEASE be the Bachelor??? I need a whole season with these faces," one user wrote

Over Zoom, Glaze comes off as friendly and easygoing. His eyebrows fluctuate and he talks with his hands, and the combination leads to at least one meme-worthy moment. While describing how he reacted to drama in the house, he holds an imaginary cup of tea up to his mouth, "You'd see me in the corner just sipping my tea and not getting involved," he said.

Glaze says the colorful expressions come naturally. People will see him in public and comment that they liked his faces on the show, and he'll react to them without noticing. 

"They're like, 'There! That's the face! That's the face!' And I don't even know what I'm doing," Glaze said.

The meme that started it all (or at least the first meme Glaze saw of himself) came from the second episode. In it, contestant Karl Smith takes his turn on stage during a group date and grips a cardboard cutout of Katie. He strokes it with a banana, saying the Bachelorette needs someone to "rock her boat" after a long day. "You guys get what I'm saying?" he asks.

"No," Glaze states firmly on camera, his eyebrows furrowed in epic fashion. "That's the first one that kind of went crazy," Glaze said. 

Glaze said his friends have sent him GIFs from the show in their group chats, but he hasn't been too keen on sharing memes of himself. "I tried it with my closest group of friends just to like, test the waters, and they made fun of me so hard," said Glaze, who also makes fun of himself. 

"Not sure who works faster, Twitter or the camera man assigned to my face," he tweeted as the show aired. 

Before Glaze's face was plastered all over social media, he was just a single guy during the pandemic. With things shut down, he wasn't going into the office or to bars, and he wasn't meeting people. He said the show seemed "like a really cool way to try to date somebody different." 

Looking back now, he said, the experience showed him how much he could push himself. "If I can do that -- put myself out there for the whole world to see me and form opinions on me -- and you know, be OK with that, then I can do so much more than I once thought I could," he said.  

In July, as the season was still airing, old tweets Glaze had written between 2009 and 2011 resurfaced and caused a stir. Glaze first posted the tweets, which were called homophobic and racist, as a teenager.

When the tweets resurfaced, Glaze said he "immediately felt terrible... I had no idea that those were tweets that I put out when I was 14." 

Enlarge Image

Justin Glaze and Katie Thurston make a new friend on the latest season of The Bachelorette.  


Glaze apologized for the tweets on former bachelorette Becca Kufrin's Bachelor Happy Hour podcast on July 12. He said he isn't going to run from the things he said, which he now sees as "insensitive" and "hurtful." 

"I'm not going to defend myself and make excuses for anyone who gave me heat or came at me," Glaze said. "I'm gonna let my actions, you know, speak louder than my words. And I just hope people see the type of person that I am."

Now Glaze is back in Baltimore and juggling his job with his new life as a Bachelorette alum. (His most recent Instagram post shows him hanging out with fellow contestants Greg Grippo and Andrew Spencer in New York.) He's been traveling a bit, getting back into his artwork, and enjoying time with friends. "I'm kind of trying to get back into the groove of things," Glaze said.

And good news for those who can't get enough of Glaze's face. He's still single.