Clayton Echard Says He's 'Embarrassed and Disgusted' by His Season of 'The Bachelor'
Former Bachelor Clayton Echard says he is still "embarrassed and disgusted" with his onscreen behavior while getting candid about his mental health journey since his final episode in March.
Clayton's run on season 26 of The Bachelor is now widely considered one of the franchise's most turbulent yet, marked by Clayton's dramatic claim that he was in love with three women at once. Clayton's now-girlfriend, Susie Evans, self-eliminated after he told her he had slept with the other two finalists, Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia. The couple rekindled offscreen before the show's reunion episode. On Monday, Gabby and Rachel debuted as this season's dual Bachelorettes.
"Watching it back, I was embarrassed and disgusted by my actions and the way I was portrayed or seen on TV," Clayton now tells The Virginian Pilot. "Ultimately, I had to live with the fact that my narrative is what was shown. And that was hard because that's not really who I am. I don't feel that what I was on the show is who I truthfully am but I did those things, I became that person."
Night one of The Bachelorette was full of references to Clayton's missteps -- many men went out of their way to assure Gabby and Rachel they would never be Clayton, and one even brought a choir of children to harmonize a "Clayton Sucks" tune outside the arrival limo.
"It's not personal, it's business,” Clayton said of the insults on Tuesday's episode of Kaitlyn Bristowe'sOff the Vine podcast. Though Susie and other former Bachelors and Bachelorettes expressed their distaste for the bullying, Clayton came at it with more calm.
"So as I saw the show, the episode and all of the attacks and the song, the choir -- I'm gonna go chase down those parents -- I honestly didn't really get a reaction other than I just kind of laughed," he said.
This sense of peace is guiding Clayton's post-Bachelor life, according to The Virginian Pilot. After fighting an onslaught of hate mail and death threats following his season's conclusion, Clayton began seeing a therapist and turned his attention to mental health advocacy.
"The hatred by way of numbers was really hard for me to overcome," he says in the article. "Had it just been a few messages I would've passed it off. Had it been hundreds of messages, I might have questioned it. ... But for me, it was thousands of messages, and in a very short period of time, so it became very overwhelming."
In April, he opened up about reckoning with the way his choices on the show affected everyone around him. "I never forget to give myself grace, as we all should do for ourselves," he explained in an Instagram post. "But I am a work in progress and always will be. Because perfection is impossible to obtain, but we can all be better than we were the day before. So that’s what I’ll continue to strive to do."
Now on the other side of the darkness, Clayton has started a national speaking tour for mental health advocacy. He's hoping to target students in middle and high school, ages when children are easily influenced and often unable to find words for how they're struggling.
"I want to be able to be a light for them, to say 'Hey, listen, I was there as well,' he tells The Virginian Pilot. "'I was able to overcome this.'"
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