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“What could be worse than what I already went through?” Abbie Chatfield on filming Bachelor in Paradise.

She may be self-isolating alone in this strange new COVID-19 world, but Abbie Chatfield’s days are filled with sifting through the mountains of messages, secrets and confessions women from around Australia send her on a weekly basis.

The host of the It’s A Lot with Abbie Chatfield podcast, and star of the upcoming season of Bachelor in Paradise, has built up a legion of followers via her Instagram and Facebook accounts, by encouraging women to share their deepest and darkest thoughts with her via her Tea Tuesdays Q&A sessions, which is now its own YouTube channel.

“I am starting to struggle a little bit this week with self-isolation,” she told Mamamia’s The Spill podcast. “It’s weird, I miss just going and having a coffee in a cafe. But I’ve been really lucky my life has not changed too much because I was already working from home.

“I do Tea Tuesdays and I’ve noticed that since quarantine started, people’s craziest stories have started to come out and there is always one big trend when it comes to what women want to share with me. Whether I ask about bad dating stories, strangest interactions with a guy or something like ‘what are you most ashamed of’? There will be so many stories from women about the fact they hate their bodies.

“It’s heartbreaking and a recurring theme. It’s also upsetting because obviously these women are posting these thoughts to me because they don’t always feel comfortable talking to their friends about it.

“During The Bachelor, and look even now, with all the Daily Mail articles I have been body-shamed quite a bit. I’ve always been very uncomfortable in my body, as I know a lot of people are. I do get told that I’m ugly, or that I’m fat. That one comes up a lot. But you have to fake it until you make it.

Listen to Abbie Chatfield talk about life in quarantine, building a community of women and filming Bachelor in Paradise on The Spill. 

“I’ve actually been doing a lot of Instagram lives so I can talk to my followers during quarantine. I’m doing one this Wednesday night for Shopback. I’m wearing a beret and we’re doing a Pictionary game. I’m actually really scared that people will not know what I’m trying to draw, I’m going to do a practice run with friends first I think. But it will be fun, I’ll have some wine, ” she laughed. “These Instagram lives are my socialising for the week.”

During and after her appearance on the 2019 season of The Bachelor, in which she was named runner up after Bachelor Matt Agnew chose Chelsie McLeod, Abbie experienced a torrent of abuse from viewers of the show to the extent that she had to think twice about appearing on Bachelor in Paradise.

“I spoke to producers and the team at Warner Brothers about it and they have been very supportive of me,” Abbie told The Spill podcast. “This might be the wrong way to think about it but I just thought to myself, ‘what could be worse than what I already went through?’

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“I’ve grown since that time, I have a following now of people who like me and I have my podcast. I now have a platform to talk about these things, even if things from the show were to go awry.

“I also wanted to have a more positive experience than the one I had on The Bachelor,” she continued. “Because I think I kind of ruined my own experience with that by being so worried all the time about what was going on.

“It’s a sad thing to get used to, but now if I get a DM saying ‘kill yourself’ which I used to get all the time, I just go ‘…ok’ . I’ve gotten so many and there is only so much mud you can fling at a wall. Even though that’s a horrible thing to get used to, there’s nothing anyone can say to me now I haven’t heard before.”

Only a handful of names have been released for the upcoming season of Bachelor in Paradise, including Jamie Doran, Ciarran Stott, Timm Hanly and Brittany Hockley, but Abbie confirmed that it’s a whole different world from what she experienced filming The Bachelor.

“I was very excited to see Timm there and I was very excited to see Ciarran,” she said .”I actually only went there to meet Ciarran because he was the guy who really interested me from Angie’s season. But you’ll have to see if that changes or not…

“I also got to meet Brit Hockley who was so lovely and girls from other seasons who I had never spoken to before. There are girls on the show who haven’t been publicly confirmed yet but who are really amazing and I was surprised to like so much.”

Her positive attitude towards the cast doesn’t mean that her path to filming Bachelor in Paradise was at all smooth, with paparazzi stalking her through the Brisbane Airport during both her traveling days.

“When The Bachelor was airing I had a paparazzi who would follow me from my home to my workplace every day,” she said. “On weekends he would follow me around to places like my hairdresser. I called the cops on him twice, I would cry and it was just awful. But this time around, unfortunately, having papparize follow me to the airport was very much expected.

“Unfortunately, it’s not a big deal anymore, another horrible thing you have to get used to, people following you from your home.”

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Abbie’s name has also been in the headlines recently thanks to commenting on the behaviour of fellow reality show contestants, such as former Married at First Sight groom Dean Wells, who have called her out on Instagram.

While it’s not a topic she wants to dwell on, it does leave her concerned for the people who are approving of this behavior from the sidelines.

“To be quite frank and quite blunt, I’m more embarrassed for them,” she said. “It’s quite frustrating when adult men, whether or not they are 15 years older than me or not, think it’s ok to spread messages such as Dean Wells did, saying that Clementine Ford’s writing was likened to the KKK.

“Statements like that are uneducated and it makes me worried about what kind of following they have, who would think that was ok, to support those statements? It more makes me concerned for society as a whole.

“It’s just strange to think that these schools of thought still exist because I have such a strong female following, I don’t really see that stuff, thankfully.”

Looking towards the future, once the COVID-19 restrictions have lifted, Abbie has big plans to continue growing her female-focused empire.

“In the next year I would love to be able to have live podcast recordings,” she said. “I want to make it into a women’s empowerment event of sorts. I think it would be really fun to meet the people I talk to on Facebook all the time, to meet them face to face.”  


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