Chatting with Abbie Chatfield

Tell us a bit about yourself!

Hi! I’m Abbie and I’m from the Gold Coast. A year and a half ago I was on The Bachelor, where I was slut-shamed mercilessly, bullied on camera and trolled relentlessly. 

After the show ended, I started a podcast to discuss feminist issues, sex and relationships and really whatever I really felt like talking about. Now I do influencing and podcasting full-time! 

Fill in the blanks. Right now I’m…

In Tweed Heads, trying to get across the border.

Hearing the QLD election happening downstairs! Other than that, I’m near the beach but it is pretty quiet. So no sound besides the fear of the US.  

Eating vegemite on toast with garlic butter.

Drinking soy caps! There is a coffee machine in this Airbnb and I have been having actual coffee – it’s very exciting. 

Loving summer arriving and the fact that it is getting hotter again. I was in Sydney, and it was freezing cold for two weeks, pouring rain, and I was so upset. Now I’m back at the border where it’s warmer! 

You went on reality TV to find love, and sadly as we know, many of these shows villainise contestants through scripting and editing. What advice would you have for young women wanting to find love who may be considering going down the same path? 

If you’re looking to find love don’t go on The Bachelor. If you want an experience and to do something fun, then go for it. I’m not saying don’t do it at all, I’m just saying that if you want love, there are much easier and more genuine ways to find a partner where there is less pressure and mental strain. 

Beyond the show, you are required to sign contracts which state that you can’t date until the show airs. Then if you go on Bachelor in Paradise (a version of The Bachelor), you sign another contract. I’ve been contracted for over a year where I can’t go on dating apps. I can now, but there was a whole year where I could not date in public. 

Did you know that you were going to be edited as a villain on The Bachelor? 

No! I thought I was going to get the sook edit because I cried almost every day! 

Since the show, you’ve amassed a huge following on social media, and you’ve used your platform to speak about many important issues. Had you not had that following, how else would you be championing these issues? 

Before the show, my friends and I would talk about these issues all the time. I think that the best way to go around it is through real and raw conversations on issues like abortion rights, microaggressions when it comes to racism, sexism and xenophobia. 

Before The Bachelor, I was a commercial real estate analyst. I would spend a lot of my time educating those I worked with, who were oblivious and uninformed on these social justice issues. I was having one-on-one conversations with the goal of creating action.

In July, you posted a caption about why we shouldn’t use weight loss as a compliment. Given your own journey with body confidence, what would you advise young women and girls who are struggling to separate themselves from society’s expectations about what a woman’s body ‘should’ look like?

There are a lot of different reasons as to why you shouldn’t say that [comments about weight loss] to someone. For me, a couple of years ago (and then after the Bachelor), when I was severely depressed and had issues with suicidal ideation, I lost weight.

I lose weight because when my depression is bad and I’m anxious because I simply don’t eat. In essence, when I’m losing weight, it means that I’m very mentally unhealthy but if I’m at the same size then I’m mentally happy and healthy.

When I was anxious, everyone was praising my body. This would, in a weird twisted way, make me grateful for the anxiety. There are obviously more severe versions of eating disorders, but ultimately comments about weight are very triggering. 

With regards to my body confidence journey, I still have days where I can’t look in the mirror. Yesterday, for example, I was drying myself while looking away from the mirror because sometimes I just feel a bit yuck. 

When you say to someone “you look so good, you have lost some weight”, it implies that gaining weight is a bad thing and that therefore being a bigger size is a bad thing. This all contributes to fat-phobia in society. That is the overriding issue that really irritates me. 

A huge factor that can affect our perception of ourselves and how we look is social media. It really does depend on who you follow, but there are many influencers who are still unrealistically editing their bodies and images. It’s not like it was five years ago where you could tell if someone had used the Facetune app — these edits are much more subtle and refined. 

What I recommend is to unfollow any accounts that you “envy follow”. I think many of us follow people out of envy because they are better looking, or lead a glamorous lifestyle. A couple of years ago, I unfollowed anyone that I “envy followed” and this changed my whole perspective. It’s all about having control over what media you consume. 

In reality, no matter how much weight you lose, and no matter how many times you say “I love you” in the mirror to yourself, your relationship with your body is not going to change if you have that constant stream of unrealistic beauty standards. 

Any finally — the fun part — what are your plans and goals for the next year? 

To start and finish my book that I’m writing! And to have a month of holidays. So, the goal is to write my book and then take a month off… I’m just so tired! 

I hope to leave my phone, go off to the Bunya Mountains and just do yoga for a month. 

You can find Abbie over on her Instagram or on her podcast, It’s A Lot. 

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