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Matt James is both looking and feeling more like his old self after ditching his bushy beard last week.
Speaking with reporters during a press call on Wednesday after the Dancing with the Stars cast announcement was made, the former Bachelor star, 29, said it simply "felt like it was time" to make the change.
"There wasn't an emotional connection to the beard. It was time to go. It's a new chapter," explained James, who showed off his clean-shaven look on Instagram one week ago. "Growing the beard was to get away from looking like the Bachelor because that was something I did. It's not who I am."
Billy Kidd via Getty; Dia Dipasupil/Getty
"After the show's over, they're expecting you to act a certain way, look a certain way," he continued. "I'm Matt James. I'm not here to please anyone. I'm here to be the best version of myself. My appearance has nothing to do with how I treat people."
In early 2021, James served as the lead on season 25 of The Bachelor, where he met girlfriend Rachael Kirkconnell. The reality star tells PEOPLE that his 24-year-old partner has been supporting him "in every way imaginable," especially when it came to his facial hair choices.
"She was the only person who seemed to love my beard so that's love right there," he quipped.
Kirkconnell has also been incredibly supportive of James' decision to join season 30 of DWTS. James says his girlfriend has been giving him pointers ahead of the show's Sept. 20 live premiere on ABC.
"She was stoked about this opportunity for me," James told PEOPLE about Kirkconnell. "Her sister is an incredible dancer so they've all been consulting about how I've been with my steps when I come back from practice. She's been my dance partner outside of Dancing with the Stars. I come back and try to apply the same lessons that I learned during my rehearsals. She's been keeping me in shape!"
Craig Barritt/Getty Images Matt James
James will compete against a dynamic group of celebrity contestants: The Talk co-host Amanda Kloots, Beverly Hills, 90210's Brian Austin Green, Bling Empire's Christine Chiu, Peleton instructor Cody Rigsby, former NBA player Iman Shumpert, country star Jimmie Allen, YouTube superstar JoJo Siwa, Real Housewives of Atlanta's Kenya Moore, Cobra Kai's Martin Kove, Spice Girls member Melanie C., The Office's Melora Hardin, WWE's Mike "The Miz" Mizanin, Olivia Jade Giannulli, and Olympic gymnast Suni Lee.
Dancing with the Stars season 30 premieres Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.