These days, it’s common for millennials to use their social media platforms, like Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat for fame and promotion. But with a large online following, comes great responsibility, Canadian TV personality Kaitlyn Bristowe told a packed Student Commons Theatre Nov. 22.
Bristowe opened up for a two-hour Q-and-A period, discussed everything from her day-to-day life since reality TV, behind the scenes details of The Bachelor and Bachelorette and her own experiences and struggles with cyber-bullying.
Bristowe is known internationally from NBC’s The Bachelorette. After coming in third as the runner up in Chris Soules’ season of The Bachelor, Bristowe returned for another season as the Bachelorette herself, eventually becoming engaged to fiancé Shawn Booth.
Since starring on the hit reality TV series, Bristowe says that she has gained a huge social media following, with 1.5 million followers on Instagram alone.
“I’ve turned down thousands of dollars on promotional things because I didn’t believe in it,” said Bristowe about using her social media fame for promotions. “I always want to share things that I am passionate about, like charities. Giving back has always been huge to me and now that I have a platform, I need to use it for good.”
In addition to running several campaigns about women’s rights issues, Bristowe is using her experience on reality TV and her social media following as a platform to discuss cyber-bullying.
“You totally forget that the people on the show are humans,” said Bristowe. Although she claims to have a “thick skin,” she confessed that a lot of the criticism she has received online since The Bachelorette has really affected her.
Instead of letting it bring her down, Bristowe has dedicated much of her social media platform to anti-cyberbulling messages.
“I can’t even imagine having an Instagram or Facebook in high school,” Bristowe said in an interview with the Times after the show. “Everyone in high school today needs to deal with not only all the usual bullying, but the pressure of being perfect on social media too.”
While Bristowe aims to tell her story about cyber bulling to educate others, she says that she was heartbroken to see that a lot of the backlash she’s received online has been from other women who judge her. This is something that she says she is looking to change.
“I’m all about empowering women. I just don’t get it. I don’t know why people feel the need to tear people down,” she said.
Bristowe said that she will continue to try and use her social media following for good, only sharing positive and empowering messages and only promoting products that she actually uses and believes in.
During the Q-and-A, Bristowe also revealed a few details about what her life looks like now with fiancé Shawn Booth in Nashville.
“We spend every waking minute together,” she said. “And it’s great; there are no cameras and he is totally my best friend.”
Although few details were revealed about their pending wedding plans, fans still enjoyed hearing her stories about her life since the show.
“It was great to see how real she is,” said Cara MacMillan, an attendee at the event. “I really felt like she was just a regular girl. I loved hearing about how her day to day life has been going since the show.”
Sara Edwards appreciated that too. “I love that she is very outspoken about being judged and bullied on social media,” said the first-year Algonquin nursing student. “I feel like this is a new phenomenon and hearing about her experience has totally helped me with my own.”
Audience members also took the question period as an opportunity to ask their unanswered questions about Bristowe’s seasons of The Bachelor and Bachelorette.
“Well, I guess my contract is up now,” joked Bristowe as she answered the questions.
Although the show is not scripted, Bristowe did confess that the producers do encourage certain behaviour “to make good TV,” and things are certainly edited to skew their meanings a little bit.
“They’d film me saying three good things I liked about one guy and one bad thing, and then they would only air the bad thing to make it seem like I didn’t like him or vice versa,” she explained.
Will Bristowe ever consider doing reality TV again? The answer left fans hopeful.
“Had you asked me that right after filming The Bachelorette, I would have said ‘no way,’” said Bristowe. “But now, looking ahead to our future plans, we definitely consider it. Not telling, but we might even already be doing it,” she said alluding to having a wedding show in the works already.
But, what we do know for sure after Bristowe’s session on Tuesday night is that her and fiancé Booth are happily living in Nashville, while Bristowe pursues a new career in country music.
“While I am going to continue to grow and explore my love of music and performing,” she said. “One thing I know for sure is that I am always going to use my platform to promote change and helping others.”