‘I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!’ winner Abbie Chatfield has said people going on reality television should “be prepared” for the wave of backlash and online trolling they could receive when scenes go to air.
Whether it be ‘The Bachelor’, which she finished as runner-up in 2019, or other dating programs like ‘Married At First Sight’, Abbie said “unfortunately” getting trolled is “a reality of reality TV”, though it’s still unacceptable for keyboard warriors to be sending hate messages.
“The reality of going on these shows is unfortunately someone or a few people will get trolled,” she told HuffPost Australia on Monday.
“Be prepared for it and be ready to have to really compartmentalise that. Unfortunately it’s a reality of reality TV.”
Abbie said she received only “a total of five messages” on Instagram that were negative during her stint on ‘I’m A Celeb’ this year, compared to “hundreds a day” when she appeared on ‘The Bachelor’ two years ago.
“Sometimes you’d have a conservation with the psychologist for an hour, and feel better, get off the phone and check my phone and there’s a hundred messages,” she said.
“When you look back at it, you’re like, ‘It’s all a bit silly, isn’t it?’ Someone getting mad at me on ‘The Bachelor’ for ‘stealing Elly’s date card’. It’s just ridiculous.”
She said her approach to handling trolls often changes.
“I think day-to-day is a different strategy depending on how long it’s been since I’m at therapy,” said Abbie. “I’ve started to delete negative messages in the comments only in the past couple of days.”
Abbie praised Channel 10 and Warner Bros. who produces the show for providing mental health support to contestants.
“You can’t change the reality of what you’re going through but you do have the support there which is good,” she said.
“There isn’t much more the network and production company can do. We’ve got our publicists who are amazing and then we’ve got a show psychologist and crew and support. I’m sure I would have no hesitation if I needed more support,” she said.
While Abbie was crowned the winner of Channel 10′s ‘I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!’ on Sunday, rival network Channel 9 aired its ‘Married At First Sight’ reunion.
After the episode aired, ‘MAFS’ star Martha Kalifatidis urged viewers to “be kind” to her and her co-stars who she said had been “trolled, bullied and slandered publicly”.
In 2019, ‘MAFS’ star Dean Wells told HuffPost Australia that life became “stressful” after appearing on the reality TV show in 2018.
“We’re just these normal people who live normal lives, and then all of a sudden you’re on every TV screen, magazine and newspaper in Australia, and the whole world is having an opinion about you and they don’t even know you. It’s very stressful,” he said at the time.
At the time Megan Marx, who appeared on the 2016 season of ‘The Bachelor Australia’ also said she had not prepared for the social media backlash and anxiety she faced after appearing on the show.
“People think you come out and all of a sudden you’re Instagram famous, but the reality is it’s so far from that,” she said.
“Coming out of a show like that, you need calluses, not just thick skin to deal with the amount of negative energy.”
“It doesn’t matter how well you’re portrayed, people are going to hate you. I was edited pretty well, but I still copped so much hate about how I look. Coming out of a show and people knowing who you are and having an opinion about you, it’s not normal.”
If you or someone you know needs help:
Lifeline on 13 11 14
Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36
Headspace on 1800 650 890
Outside of Australia, please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.
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