There's Been a Ton of Mental Health-Shaming on 'The Bachelor'—So Why is No One Talking About It?
Regardless of who you're rooting for, labels like "crazy" and "emotionally unstable" are just wrong.
Monday night’s episode of The Bachelor began with all you’d expect (and want) to see in a primetime dating show: a shirtless Peter Weber, multiple steamy date scenes, and enough snark and drama to last you a while (at least until next week)—and then it took a turn.
Let me just preface this by saying that I'm a huge Bachelor fan. Now, five episodes into season 24 of the show, I've become invested in Pilot Pete's journey to find a wife, and, okay, I'm definitely rooting for a few favorite contestants to make it to the final rose ceremony. But Monday night's episode made me feel as though I had traveled back in time—specifically to my freshman year of college, a particularly traumatic time in my life. But more on that later.
A quick recap, for those of you not glued to your TV screens Monday nights at 8 p.m.: One of the contestants, Tammy, snagged some precious one-on-one time with Peter—and used that time to talk about her fellow contestant, Kelsey (sorry, non-Bachelor watchers, we're only on a first-name basis). Tammy told Peter that Kelsey had a "mental breakdown," referencing a moment when Kelsey had dissolved into tears over having to see Peter date other women. (To be fair, Kelsey was definitely emotional, but labeling her feelings as a mental breakdown is a step too far.)
To make matters worse, Tammy further accused Kelsey of drinking excessively, aka insinuating she had substance abuse issues. This was all because homegirl had a few glasses of red wine while she was in her feelings. Then, later in the episode when the women gathered before the rose ceremony, it was revealed Tammy had also mentioned to Peter that Kelsey was “pill popping.” First: Another contestant’s prescription medication is of zero relevance to Tammy’s relationship with Peter? But also, those "pills" Kelsey was supposedly popping? She apparently only takes "Adderall and birth control."
Honestly, the emotion-shaming that took over on Monday night’s episode was just not OK. Even accuser Tammy was, at one point, referred to as "psycho," "crazy," and "insane." Pairing that with Kelsey's accusations of being “emotionally unstable,” and abusing prescription medications and alcohol, it was clear that even in the year 2020, mental health stigma is alive and well—much like it was when I was in college.
I took Monday night's episode to heart because I, too, am all too familiar with just how much these labels can hurt. The episode immediately gave me flashbacks to my freshman year of college when I was mocked and shamed by my roommates for taking prescription medication to treat my clinical anxiety and depression. Over the course of a semester, the girls spread rumors that I was a “pill popper” and had “mental issues”—all because I took medication for an ailment they couldn’t physically see. It opened my eyes to the sad fact that some people truly believe that only physical health issues are worthy of medical treatment.
While the show was airing, I asked my Instagram followers if anyone else was upset by the obvious mental health and emotion shaming and I was flooded with messages. While Tammy and the other women on the show may have not understood just how wrong their words and actions were, many of the women who follow me were shocked and upset by the blatant ignorance. That gave me comfort, knowing I wasn’t the only one who noticed the nonsense in the episode, but it also made me wonder just how many other Bachelor fans out there may have been hurt or even triggered by the obvious shaming.
So many people who have depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues opt to suffer in silence solely out of fear that they’ll be judged and shamed for their very real diagnoses. Monday night’s episode not only further perpetuated the hurtful stigmas surrounding mental health, but many people still think it’s okay to use perceived mental health struggles and unfounded accusations of substance abuse as insults. Not only is doing this terribly hurtful, but it’s also no way to get another person to fall in love with you, Bachelor girls.
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