Corinne Olympios made it farther than anyone thought she would on Nick Viall's season of The Bachelor. Painted early on as the bratty, privileged "villain" who still had a nanny at age 25, she rubbed many women in the house the wrong way. Although, interestingly, as time went on and the pool of contestants shrank exclusively to women who were much older than she was, tensions seemed to ease. But being viewed as a spoiled, obnoxious child is part of why Corinne's elimination on The Bachelor was an empowering moment if you think about it.
Corinne wound up subverting so many authoritative Bachelor tropes that she actually became kind of iconic. She had no qualms about interrupting other women for more time with Nick, confronting women who treated her passive aggressively, or skipping out on very important rose ceremonies to brazenly take naps because she felt exhausted by the grueling shooting schedule which is specifically designed to breed drama out of sleep deprivation. Most of the time, these behaviors signal a pot-stirrer, planted by producers to make trouble.
But in Corinne's case, she was actually just a woman who felt comfortable explicitly stating her desires and unpacking her feelings — even the negative ones — with the people she was in conflict with. Typically, women are socialized to do the exact opposite: believe that asking for what you want is automatically selfish, suppress your negative emotions to make other people feel more comfortable, and neglect your own self-care for fear of being labeled ungrateful or inconsiderate. Corinne didn't accept any of that.
And it's no wonder women are socialized this way, considering the vitriolic backlash this season's Bachelor villain faced just for taking up space. Women saw her breaking all the rules they had been taught (by the patriarchy) to obey in order to get ahead, and here Corinne was getting rewarded for breaking them!
Each week, she sailed through rose ceremonies by being forthcoming with Nick about all her emotions. She could have checked in for consent a touch more during their early physical interactions before flinging herself at him wildly, but it was still a completely open-hearted gesture. When she was giddily crushing on him, she told him so and acted on it. When she felt bullied by other women in the house, she told him so and made herself deeply vulnerable. The former got her labeled as being "too much," while the latter got her labeled a complainer. But in both cases, she was just being completely honest about how she felt, and not turning down the volume on her emotions for the sake of appearances.
Each time she came to him sad, or annoyed, or frustrated, no matter what he said in response, she'd greet it with a total affect 180. Whether his words were perfectly comforting or not, she always responded to his effort with cheer and gratitude, reassuring him that she felt better after talking. Think about how empowering that must have felt for Nick, who came into the show with deep insecurities having previously been dumped while on the verge of proposing multiple times on national television. To see that he had the ability to help someone feel good must have made him feel super powerful. Of course he felt connected enough to Corinne to take her as far as he did. It was an incredibly cunning move on her part.
And their breakup was just as empowering for her. When Nick eliminated Corinne during the rose ceremony after hometowns, she began to cry, but she didn't say anything until they were away from the group. As he walked her to her limo, she asked Nick to stop and wait so they could have the goodbye she wanted. Crumpling into his arms, the only thing she said to him through tears was, "I'm sorry if I ever did anything to make you upset." It's a painfully familiar breakup for anyone who considers themselves to be a "pleaser" for the people they love. (Not coincidentally, the energy it takes to be that pleaser often leaves folks with the same brusque, no-nonsense attitude that Corinne adopts towards people she hasn't invested in.)
For his part, Nick did everything right as a boyfriend 11 years her senior and reassured Corinne that she didn't do anything wrong and that she had nothing to regret or second guess. Despite all the withholding he's been doing all season about saying I love you to the women, he easily admitted to Corinne, "I have so much love for you," as they were saying goodbye. The benefits of her commitment to open-hearted honesty were immediately apparent during her limo ride home. Corinne said:
Because she didn't leave the relationship with a bunch of unprocessed feelings about Nick, she was able to clearly see right away the ways in which he didn't meet her needs. She recognized the lesson in the relationship instantly. Yes, Corinne's obvious privileges are what helped her feel entitled to authenticity and confident enough to be vulnerable. But that doesn't mean that those of us who are less privileged are less worthy of it. We've just been led to believe that we are by the all ways in which we've been oppressed. We may have to fight harder than Corinne to be seen. We may feel like we're doing something "wrong" by taking care of ourselves. And yes, some of our relationships will fail if we begin to do this fiercely and unapologetically. But we will also find ourselves free of the relationships in which we weren't really valued or supported.
With practice, the rejections become more manageable and the pleasant surprises increase exponentially. We may even stand a chance of being surrounded by people who are actually the right fit for us. And most importantly, we can all feel heard as clearly as Corinne.