Another season of The Bachelor and another racism controversy. Is anyone here shocked?

This one involves contestant Victoria F., who had previously modeled for what appeared to be a White Lives Matter campaign.

It eventually became clear the campaign was meant to raise awareness around the overfishing of white and blue marlin. Regardless, Victoria’s decision to model anything using a racial slogan rooted in white supremacy is beyond problematic, insensitive, and ignorant. It’s blatant racism.

It’s an especially horrific decision given that racial tensions in the U.S. are at an all-time high and people of color are mobilizing to prevent the deaths of unarmed people of color at the hands of the police.

victoria f white lives matter
Victoria modeling ‘White Lives Matter’ merchandise

Victoria has since apologized for her involvement in the campaign, writing on Instagram stories,

“I would like to sincerely apologize for my involvement with We Love Marlins. My intention was only to support an endangered species. I want to say that I unequivocally reject the beliefs of the white lives matter movement.”

Unfortunately, Victoria F. is the only one who has apologized and The Bachelor franchise refuses to comment. The Bachelor historically ignores stories involving negative press and seemingly coaches leads on how to offer evasive answers in post-production interviews.

But that was no longer an option after Cosmopolitan decided to rescind Victoria’s prize of a digital cover of the magazine (which she won during a group date challenge). The editor-in-chief of Cosmo, Jessica Pels, released a statement on Monday following this week’s episode, clarifying that she had no idea of Victoria’s background at the time. She added,

“Unequivocally, the White Lives Matter movement does not reflect the values of the Cosmo brand. We stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and any cause that fights to end injustices for people of color.”

She said that the Cosmo team ultimately decided that they would not go through with publishing the digital cover.

Finally, a brand involved in the show stepped forward to open up the conversation! It was one of the first chances that The Bachelor lead, Peter Weber, had an opportunity to clarify the franchise’s stance on the problematic histories of racism among past contestants.

But instead of joining Cosmo, Weber deferred saying he didn’t know “too many facts” about the story before instructing viewers to make judgments of Victoria F. based on her portrayal on the show. While appearing on the Build Series, he said,

“I just hope that people can form their opinion on her based on what they see between the two of us and her time on the show. She’s not perfect, I’m not perfect, no one’s perfect, but, yeah that’s all I can really say on that.”

By failing to call out the racist marketing campaign and Victoria F.’s involvement, Peter further established the precedent that individuals on The Bachelor should only be judged by the version of themselves they choose to present to the public, rather than their real-life selves. It’s an exception that is too often provided only to white, privileged individuals. It’s time The Bachelor franchise realized the siloed false reality they continue to push is no longer being bought hook, line, and sinker by today’s audience.

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