'The Bachelor' star Clayton Echard "overwhelmed" by social-media criticism -- "It's affecting my mental health"
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 01/19/2022
The Bachelor star Clayton Echard has admitted he is "overwhelmed" by the negativity and backlash on social media and the rude comments are really starting to hurt him.
Clayton, a 28-year-old orthopedic sales representative and former college football player, is currently starring on The Bachelor's 26th season, and a lot of fans aren't happy about it after watching two episodes.
"I think at first it was kind of quiet so I was able to respond as much as I could and I'm, again, just very just appreciative for the whole opportunity. So I wanted to be able to let people know, 'Hey thank you for reaching out, it means a lot,'" Clayton said on Tuesday's episode of the "Bachelor Happy Hour" podcast hosted by Becca Kufrin.
"And then the first episode aired, and all of a sudden, it just opened the floodgates. And at that point, I started to get overwhelmed."
Many The Bachelor fans have criticized Clayton for being a poor Bachelor choice and having little to no personality or depth. People have even poked fun at Clayton for licking his lips and his "gross" kissing noises.
"I'd be lying if I said it was all sunshine and roses," Clayton noted.
"I have definitely fallen victim to reading everything -- which everybody's told me, 'Stop reading all the comments' -- but my thought was, 'If I know what's out there, there's no surprises.'"
Clayton said he understands a lot of thoughts people are throwing out there on the Internet such as, "We're not seeing this," or, "We're not seeing that."
"And I'm seeing a lot of this for the first time myself," Clayton said.
"In the last episode, what happened with all the drama, I didn't even know that was going on... Had I seen that and realized what was occurring, I think I would have responded to it. I mean, I know I would have responded to it."
Shanae Ankney, for example, kept calling attention to and challenging Elizabeth Corrigan's ADHD disorder. Shanae mocked Elizabeth behind her back and made comments such as, "ADHD my ass."
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"I didn't see that... and so it's news to me. That's what is challenging, because I see people coming after me and my character and saying 'This guy has terrible judgment, why wouldn't you respond to this?'" Clayton said.
"And the answer is simple: do you see me in that picture? When they are showing the drama, am I there and present? And the answer is 'no.' I was left in the dark. I only knew what the women brought to me... I only got bits and pieces through the conversations I had."
Serena Pitt, who co-hosted the podcast with Becca, pointed out how Clayton had to date upwards of 30 women and wouldn't have been privy to every conversation or argument.
Becca -- who starred on The Bachelorette's fourteenth season -- also asked viewers to have patience and a little bit of grace because it's difficult for a The Bachelor or The Bachelorette lead to constantly get bashed by the public.
Clayton said people have complained he doesn't have much to say to women who are shown opening up to him, but he insisted he's naturally a great talker and so he wanted to be an excellent listener.
"I'm still trying to figure out who that person is, and I don't want to say something that might be misinterpreted," Clayton noted.
Clayton said he's also seen TikToks recently regarding his past relationships.
"I never claimed to be some saint or celibate for the last six years of my single life," Clayton explained. "I was single, and I enjoyed that singleness. There was a period of my life when, yeah, I wasn't looking for anything serious and I was just having fun."
He added, "That's just something I think everybody goes through in some capacity... It came to a head on my 28th birthday when I realized I was doing the same things... I was stagnant and just going through the motions."
Clayton said he realized he must make changes in order to see change, and so he decided to stop "loosely dating" because he wanted to find a life partner whom he could wake up next to every day.
"I see the things online. It is what it is. Some of the stuff I've seen is ridiculous and it's not factual... I saw one [comment] from a guy who said, 'I walked in on him with my girlfriend.' I don't even know who this guy is!" Clayton told Becca and Serena.
"And another girl said, 'I've been dating him for five years.' I'm like, 'How can you say that?... Where is the evidence?' There's just so much."
Clayton admitted he needed to take a step back and "stop reading all the comments" because they can be "detrimental."
"You start to go down this rabbit hole of you read one comment and then the next one piles on and then the next one piles on. You just realize very quickly that you can't keep everyone happy," Clayton said.
"I read one recently about how 'Clayton is too reassuring to the women.'"
Clayton complained that he's either saying too much or not enough and he's hyper aware of things he says or does that get "heavily scrutinized."
"I need to stop trying to please everyone," Clayton noted.
Becca advised Clayton to focus on what makes him happy in life because he'll never be able to please everybody.
"While it has been such a phenomenal experience, while it was so exciting to get that call to be the next Bachelor, I'm now seeing that the hardest part is actually not so much the show, it's the aftermath. It's this part of it, now watching it with the public," Clayton explained.
Clayton revealed the hate has been particularly tough for his mother to see and deal with.
"My mom is so very supportive, so excited, she's always texting me. But the sad part about it is she's taking a lot of this criticism worse than I am," Clayton disclosed.
"For me, I haven't been too excited about that. I've taken it a certain way, but my mom is really, really struggling with it and I tell her to just get off social media and she can't do it either, she's so curious."
Clayton confessed the onslaught of negativity is "driving her absolutely wild."
"And I think that's just why, if anyone watches this and thinks about typing a negative comment, realize that it's not just me that you're affecting, it's my loved ones, you're affecting my mom," Clayton added.
Clayton said even his brother questioned who he is as a person based on the show's edit. Clayton's brother apparently told him to stop kissing and essentially ask the women more questions.
"That hit me really hard. People have to understand your words do affect me. I'll put a smile on and start brand new and start the day over... but you think it's just one comment. Understand that... [it's] 10,000 other comments and they all pile on. And it can be a lot," Clayton said.
"It can really affect someone's mental health -- not only mine but my mom's."
"There have been a lot of mixed reactions to you being announced as the Bachelor," Kaitlyn declared late last year. "I thought there's nothing like [facing] your haters face on. That's what I do."
Kaitlyn thought it would be fun to read some of the trolls' online comments aloud, including, "Clayton is the Bachelor and I just puked in my mouth," and "I hope Clayton uses protection in the fantasy suites, otherwise 9 months later there are gonna be a lot of baby Shreks running around."
The studio audience, however, cheered for Clayton and chanted his name, and Kaitlyn pointed out how Clayton is "self-deprecating" and America would probably fall in love with him once they get to know him.