Truehart’s Thorns on “The Bachelor”

Before a studio audience, “The Bachelor Pad” broadcast its season finale live last August. Camera crews swarmed as all the season’s contestants stared at Rachel Truehart, who sat next to Nick Peterson, eager to hear the pair’s final decision.

If Truehart and Peterson stuck with their previously agreed to decision, then they were to split $250,000 in prize money and be crowned the joint winners of “Bachelor Pad.” Truehart sat perfectly poised, with just a hint of fear tainting her bright blue eyes, and she revealed that she would honor her decision to share the money with Peterson, a “frat boy” type with his floppy hair, toned body and cool demeanor. However as Peterson began to respond, his unruffled persona hinted that something was about to go wrong.

Rachel Truehart, 28, first graced America’s television screen in 2012 when she appeared along with 24 other women on season 16 of “The Bachelor” and vied unsuccessfully for the heart of Sonoma wine maker Ben Flajnik. A few months later, after recovering from her public heartbreak, the Massachusetts native was approached by show producers and asked to appear on “Bachelor Pad,” a spinoff game show of “The Bachelor” in which 20 former Bachelor contestants, ten guys and ten girls, compete as couples to win a quarter of a million dollars, and  a second shot at love.

Truehart and Peterson survived eight weeks of challenges and other eliminations to get to the final round where each had to decide whether to spilt or keep the $250,000.  If they both chose to keep the money, it then went to the season’s other contestants; if they chose to split it, the money was shared; however, if one chose to share and the other chose to split, the contestant who chose to keep it walked away with the entire jackpot. And to Truehart’s shock and dismay, that’s exactly what Peterson did, backing out of their previous agreement, and leaving Truehart with no money and certainly no love. “I get it; it’s a game. But still, I’ll probably never forgive him, and I’ll never be friends with him again,” Truehart says of the incident. “I think he handled it poorly and just left me very shocked and hurt.”

Now just six months later, Truehart is back to normalcy, working as an executive assistant at Ralph Lauren in Manhattan. She recovered from the repercussions of her two stints on reality television and now lives her life like most twenty-something women trying to make it in New York, except for one small difference. Truehart, unlike most of us, still basks in a bit of fame.

“When I first got back [from Bachelor Pad], I was stopped all the time. Girls sometimes would chase me down the street,” Truehart says, as she sat in Green Café on 59th Street and Madison Avenue, clad, appropriately, in Ralph Lauren clothing during a recent interview. Her blonde locks, killer blue eyes and vivacious attitude create the perfect look for reality television and, as she sits in the café, she seems almost out of place with her Hollywood looks. 

Though Truehart says the attention from fans has cooled a bit since the show’s final episode, she still gets recognized as she goes about her daily routines. “People want to hear the inside secrets,” Truehart explains. “They want to hear about the filming, or what I did in down time. They want to know what they didn’t get to see.”

Her journey started on a whim two years ago when a family friend decided to nominate her to compete on “The Bachelor.” “I honestly thought it was a joke and that I would never get called,” she says. Yet, two weeks later, she sat for an in-person interview with producers in Los Angeles and was told she made it to “finals weekend,” in which 100 girls are put up in a hotel for two weeks to go through extensive background checks, psychology evaluations, blood tests and more meetings with producers.

She recalls the two weeks being tough and emotionally draining and says it was easy to go “a little stir crazy,” because all the prospective girls are kept under quarantine in their separate hotel rooms and are never told how many girls are still in the running. But she says she never felt deterred from wanting to appear on the show. “I loved the interviews. You met fun producers. A lot of them are young and so friendly, and you could tell they just loved what they did and that many of them truly believe in the show,” says Truehart.

Once she made the cut, Truehart says the decision to uproot her life was an easy one. After working as a sales representative in the textiles industry, she was ready for a change. “I had been in N.Y. for five years, hadn’t done anything new and interesting, and I was like, ‘All right, here’s an opportunity to do something totally new that I not in a million years thought I would ever do,’” Truehart says, smiling.

And while she does not regret her time spent on “The Bachelor,” it was not the vacation she anticipated.  “Everyone’s like, ‘Oh, you get to travel! That’s awesome!’ Truehart says. The reality: “You’re stuck in a hotel room.’” “The Bachelor” films its first few weeks in The Bachelor Mansion, about 30 miles from L.A. in Agoura Hills, Calif., before jetting the remaining contestants around the globe, whether the destinations be exotic islands or frigid continents.

But Truehart explains that unless you’re the lucky contestant getting whisked away on a lavish date, you spend a lot of time cut off from the world (no outside contact, electronics or books allowed), chained to the hotel room with only the other contestants and the camera crew to keep you company.

“Sometimes they’d let us go to the gym in 30-minute increments, but we’d have to be walked down [by a crew member],” Truehart says. “You can’t just lay by the pool; it’s not this relaxing vacation.”

After eventually facing elimination on “The Bachelor,” Truehart thought she would never appear on reality television again. Dating is awkward enough so to do it in front of America like that was a bit of a taxing experience. “I knew it was coming,” Truehart says, referring to her elimination on “The Bachelor.” She says she knew Flajnik “wasn’t really feeling” her and was wary herself, anticipating a “hometown date” between him and her family. “I didn’t want [my family] to think I was in love with him, because I kind of knew at that point that I still wasn’t and felt like I should have felt that way,” she says.

She thought “Bachelor Pad” would be a good opportunity “to a show a little bit more of my personality, that there was a little bit more to me.”

But “Bachelor Pad” quickly proved to be a much more challenging experience, with cameras filming 24/7 to capture every contestant’s every move. “If you walked into a room, you could hear the camera turn toward you. You couldn’t change your clothes without a camera on you,” Truehart says, which left her feeling vulnerable.

Contestants on “Bachelor Pad” were awaken at 7 a.m. and didn’t get a chance to sleep until 3 a.m. “I think that’s why you see people so drained and emotional,” she says, explaining that some of the crazy is definitely from sleep-deprivation

She was also critical of the editing process in which situations were edited out of context for more drama. “I’d be like, ‘I wasn’t saying that about that situation! That wasn’t even on the same day!’” Truehart recalls.

Despite the downside though, there are benefits to appearing on reality television. “I think it made me a little bit more outgoing and a little bit more secure in myself. You see it on TV, and you just have to know that that’s not all of you,” Truehart says. “You have to just trust that you know yourself, your friends and family know yourself, and that makes it a bit easier.”

She also made some lasting friendships in the process. “I became close with a lot of the girls, and, that’s the half of it,” she says. “You need that. You need to be able to hang out with the girls.”

Truehart’s sister, Crystal, a realtor in Texas, says nothing can prepare you for watching another family member go through such an emotional rollercoaster. She almost couldn’t bear to watch her sister on the “Bachelor Pad” finale because she knew the ending. “Even after knowing the outcome, nothing can prepare you to see someone you love get hurt,” Crystal wrote in a recent email. “To be honest, I hated every second of the finale and just wanted to give her a big hug,” “I cried just watching her.”

Truehart admits that, despite the unhappy endings, she’d gladly appear on reality television a third time around. “ When I first got off the show, I was like, ‘I will never do that again!’ but as hard as it is, it’s also super fun,” Truehart says. “It’s kind of fun to take yourself out of your comfort zone.”

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Why We Still Love Lucy

Lucille Ball walked with confidence down Massachusetts Avenue on a chilly February day in 1988, heading to Harvard to claim her title of Woman of the Year at the Hasty Pudding festival. Then in her seventies, Ball could not believe that so many twenty-something students stood shouting their praise from the streets and their dormitory windows. Tears welled in Ball’s crystal blue eyes as she surveyed the scene, at once humbled and gratified. Even in her old age, the world still loved Lucy, and they always would.

Earlier that morning, Ball, sporting a white fur coat, flew into Boston’s Logan Airport with her husband and fellow comedian Gary Morton. “I didn’t expect her to show up in a mink coat, but she was trying to be the diva, to show that she could still be glorious,” says Dr. Larry Barton, Ball’s faculty host when she won the award, as he recounted his day spent with Ball during a recent phone interview.

But though her voice was now dark and distorted from years of cigarette smoke and her face wore a few more wrinkles than before, her fame was eternal, which the Harvard students affirmed. “When she got up on stage, she said, ‘You know, the Harvard students have been bugging me for over 25 years to come here, and I could never work it in to my schedule to make this gig!’” Barton says, chuckling.

The day’s festivities continued, as Ball accepted her award, roared with laughter during a skit put on by Harvard’s comedy club that mocked classic scenes from “I Love Lucy,” and, of course, tasted Harvard’s prized hasty pudding. “It is the worst pudding in the world. I couldn’t even tell you what’s actually in it,” Barton says. “But she took one bite of it and made that horrible face, like it was poison!”

A bit later, Ball exited the theatre to begin her journey home, but she made sure to shake every fan’s hand on the way out the door, a quality that Barton says he’s only seen in one other performer, Bette Midler, and a quality that helped Ball earn eternal respect.

“She said, ‘These are the people who made me, who understood my humor.’ Even on the plane, she shook everyone’s hand. She’s a lady,” Barton says.

Though Lucille Ball was born on August 6, 1911 in Jamestown, New York, she was always destined for Hollywood. As the first woman to own, and successfully run, her own television studio, Ball was more than just a comedian. On her famous sitcom, “I Love Lucy,” audiences quickly fell in love with her fierce looks and witty humor. Those features, accompanied with her impressive intellect, propelled Ball to stardom. And though she died on April 26, 1989, her fame still resonates with fans today.

“I think part of it is her goodness in a very fractured, complicated world. It was wholesome, clean comedy. She didn’t need foul language. I think her longevity is principally because of that ability to make somebody smile,” Barton says.

But what was it that initially propelled Ball to fame? Paul Levinson, a professor at Fordham University who teaches about Ball in his class on television and new media, says it was her ability to combine the different elements of good comedic delivery like “a clown juggling a lot of different balls.” He says though there was something maddeningly enjoyable about the craziness of her skits, Ball also had a highly intelligent sense of humor. “Usually comedians have one or two aspects to their comedy, but it’s rare to have so many, like she had,” Levinson says.

Levinson also credits Ball’s rise to fame to the truthful portrayals of marriage, at the time, that “I Love Lucy” thrived on. In many of the episodes, for instance, Ricky would try to forbid Lucy from butting in to his show business pursuits, but, by the end of the episode, Lucy always seemed to find a humorous way to trick Ricky into letting her do exactly what she wanted. “It was in many ways the classic man-woman relationship,” says Levinson, which is something that Ball confirmed herself in her autobiography, “Love, Lucy.” In her book, she writes, “There was a chemistry, a strong mutual attraction between us [Lucy and Desi], which always came through.”

Ball mentioned that the producers always tried to work the real-life drama of her marriage into the show. She wrote about an instance in which show characters Lucy and Ricky separate for a time and reconcile by the end of the show, which echoed their real-life, at-the-time tempestuous relationship.

Ball believed that the audience was genuinely concerned and hopeful to see Lucy and Ricky’s reconciliation on the show, because maybe that would give the audience hope for a real-life reconciliation between the two, as well: “When Ricky and Lucy were reconciled a few minutes later, in what was supposed to be a hilarious scene, nobody laughed. They were too happy and relieved to see us together again,” Ball wrote.

But Barton says it was not the show itself or her comedic abilities that propelled Ball to fame; it was her eyes. He says before Ball was successful, she studied comedy with Dr. Buster Keaton, an actor best known for his silent films that prominently featured his adept physical comedy, who told Ball that the greatest way for a comedian to express herself was through her eyes.

“If you look at the candy factory episode or the episode where she’s crushing grapes, what brought the audience down was the ability to capture what she learned from Professor Keaton,” Barton says. In the grapes episode, she squints her eyes and scrunches her face into almost unimaginable contortions to convey to the audience her disgust and discomfort as she crushes the grapes with her bare feet.

Though Ball died one year after accepting the Hasty Pudding award on April 26, 1989, the residents of Jamestown (Ball’s birthplace) just celebrated her 100th birthday on August 6th of last year. More than 13,000 fans from around the world traveled to Jamestown to dress and act like the iconic Lucy Ricardo for a day, participating in reenactments of some of Lucy Ricardo’s most famous adventures and paying $14 admission fees to tour the Lucy Desi museum and the Lucille Ball/Desi Arnaz Center.

And twenty-something young ladies continue to sit and watch “I Love Lucy” today, still mesmerized by her charm and comedic abilities. Sarah Beresh, a self-proclaimed 25-year-old Lucille Ball fanatic, says Ball’s ability to connect with her audiences by “just being goofy” allowed her to resonate with fans. “She wasn’t a polished woman on screen, like many other actresses at the time, and that made her more relatable,” Beresh says.

Levinson seems to agree with Beresh. “I think humor has an eternal quality. The “I Love Lucy” show is so transcendently funny that it would still be enormously successful,” Levinson says.

Regardless of the exact reason, we all still love you, Lucy. And we always will.

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How GenY Voted

In Asharoken, Long Island, the village still remains on the brink of disaster after megastorm Sandy and extensive flood damages in the village hall forced local officials combine its polling place with Eatons Neck residents at the local fire department.

Despite the upheaval, residents still made the trip down dilapidated Asharoken Avenue, the village’s main road and the only road into Eatons Neck, to vote and to donate. “I was here at 6 a.m. and more people than ever were here,” said Pam Vogt, a local resident.

With so many Long Island residents still scouring the streets in search of an open gas station, many residents feared there would be some tonight who go without voting. “A lot of people are trying to carpool,” said Lynn Hall, a 19-year-old working as a poll-watcher. “I think around dinner time we might see a surge of people,” she said.

Despite the difficult of getting to the polls, GenY was out there, and they were eager to vote and express their opinions. Lynn Hall, the 19-year-old poll worker in Asharoken, voted for Obama, simply stating, “I feel like he didn’t f… up.”

In Centerport, Francesca Ramos, 23, also remained faithful to Obama. She said she still felt as passionate about him as she did four years ago when he spoke at her college. “I think he did a lot of things he promised,” she said.

Ben Iorio, however, age 21 and first-time voter, stood waiting his turn to fill out his ballot and held firm in his convictions that he would be voting for Mitt Romney, simply because he “is a conservative.” –MACKENZIE GAVEL

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Relying On the Wisdom of the Crowd

As Emily Balkan, 21, looks at a pair of light blue ballet flats on her computer screen, she swiftly moves her mouse to click on the product reviews. The shoes received a four-star customer review and approximately 400 “Love Its” from previous shoppers. “Look at how many people love the shoes!” she exclaims. A senior at New York University, Balkan says that she often shops at Modcloth, a popular online shopping destination, because the site offers extensive product reviews from fellow shoppers.

Like many other GenYers, when Balkan wants advice and recommendations she relies on more than just friends and family. Her network spans the globe. While seeking advice from a large group of people rather than one source, or trusting in the wisdom of the crowd, is not unique GenY, this age group has expanded the “crowd” to include the virtual world, where everyone has an opinion. . GenY relies heavily on those opinions for helpful recommendations on everything from shopping to business start-up ideas, more so than older generations

GenY was raised with values of teamwork, creativity and positive affirmation, which are all key features of the wisdom of the crowd.  “GenY is a generation born with Intel inside,” says Sara Bamossy, a marketing expert and group-planning director of Saatchi & Saatchi public relations firm  “They’re just used to using social networks as a shortcut to find information.”

The wisdom of the crowd extends to personal music preferences. Chris Mooney, head of artist promotions at TuneCore, one of the highest revenue-generating music catalogues in the world, explains that GenY simply loves to share their own opinions. “While GenY tends to focus on individuality, they also love to share that individualism with their peers, making it nearly impossible to escape the music interest of others,” Mooney says. Which is why so many apps, like Pandora, rely on the wisdom of the crowd to function.

“[The apps] offer the unpredictability of the radio but also ask for listeners’ input, creating a listening experience that is random yet personalized, appealing to their penchant for customized and intelligent technologies,” he says. Mooney explains that Pandora becomes more “intelligent” based on listener feedback. Users can click a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” to indicate songs they like or dislike, and Pandora will take that into account, more frequently playing “popular” rated songs in the future.

The benefits of the wisdom of the crowd extend to academics, as well. StudyBlue is a new site that creates a network connecting students studying a particular subject at a particular time of day, so they study together online and benefit from bouncing ideas off one another.

Becky Splitt, CEO of StudyBlue, says that the wisdom of the crowd is effective, because it is inclusive. GenY wants its opinion to count. “When students know their presence matters, they will participate,” she says. “They will give feedback and create an opportunity to reply and discuss and argue and create.”

She also agrees that the accessibility of a wide range of responses draws student users into the site. “When we use a network, the most important asset we get is access to one another,” she says.

In fact, there’s even an app for the wisdom of the crowd. Dr. Scott Testa, a professor at Cabrini College and marketing expert, recently used “Thumb,” the wisdom of the crowd app, to ask the masses if they thought that his latest business project idea was worth pursuing.

“Within a day, I had great feedback and a pretty good idea I was on to something of significance,” he says. Dr. Testa says that the ability to tap into a “large and specialized audience” simply did not exist 10 or 15 years ago.

He says that while this idea of using the wisdom of the crowd to fuel important decisions is something considered “common” to GenY, it is a novelty to his older generation, but something he values and appreciates.

“I think we take for granted how powerful these networks are,” he says. “It’s quite frankly interesting that you can have these people around the world to tap in to voice an opinion.”

And as our networks continue to expand, one could wonder where this wisdom of the crowd will lead us in future years. Ms. Bamossy, marketing expert, says that while there will be a surplus of information; it will continue to prove beneficial.

“The most truly creative people are the ones who most freely give knowledge away. They are confident that they will have more ideas and are rewarded by the contribution of new ideas from the people they inspire,” she says.

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Online Help for Bullying

Last January, I founded BelittletheBullies, a blog for bully victims. I write about my own experiences with the hopes that bullied teens will take comfort that they are not alone, and others share their concerns and problems. Communication is always the first step.

This past summer, bullied teen Elisa reached out to me via Twitter. Her painful words detailed how other students constantly teased her. I advised her to talk to her parents, so she was not the only one carrying this burden, and to not allow others to diminish her integrity. She thanked me for the advice, and every now and again we tweet to one another, and she, I hope, continues to benefit from my support.

What Elisa did by reaching out to me, before turning to her parents for help, is not uncommon. She sought advice from a complete stranger on a social media site. Other bullied teens are also looking beyond family members and friends, seeking out support through blogs and other online sites in the virtual world. With anonymity, accessibility, and advocacy, these sites offer teens comfort.

Troubled teens scour social media sites for advice because they find comfort in the anonymity, says Annie Fox, M.Ed., founder of and author of award-winning anti-bullying books. They also want the immediate response that online sites can offer. “I answer every email, and they don’t have to wait longer than 24 hours,” Fox says.

Social media can be effective way to handle emotional trauma, because the process itself is cathartic. “There is some therapeutic value in just writing down and articulating an emotional issue,” Fox says. is an online site committed to doing just that—helping bullied teens articulate their issues. Joe Bruzzese, founder of the site, says that his site is being used by school systems. The upbeat, friendly site asks bully victims to complete incident reports to their school principals, so action can be taken. While it may seem daunting to submit an online report, Bruzzese says that teens find the process worthwhile, because it helps solve the real-world issues.

And this is why Bruzzese believes teens trust Internet sites as much as they trust their parents for advice. “[Adults are] more accustomed to sharing information with our family members and friends, whereas kids today trust online entities as much as you and I trust close friends,” Bruzzese says.

Courtney Knowles, director of Love is Louder, an online movement that encourages teens to share their stories through social media sites to help prevent bullying, seems to agree with Bruzzese. Knowles says that the program is successful because teens find solace in reading other teen’s stories and understanding that they are not the only ones going through tough times.

“People use these sites to share stories of their pain or statistics about how bad the problems are,” Knowles says. “This is an important start to the discussion, but we want to help them use social networks to move beyond the problem and take action.”

Knowles says that Love is Louder is currently working to create an app to help teens learn how to deal with tough situations and bullying issues long-term. “We hope [it] will help young people deal with tough feelings in the moment and make it easier for them to reach out for support if needed,” Knowles says.

Though the Internet can be a source of help, it’s also indisputably one of the biggest causes of bullying today, with 43 percent of teens reporting that they were victims of cyberbullying in the past year, according to the National Crime Prevention Council. Edie Raether, international speaker and bestselling author of several books, including “Stop Bullying Now,” argues though, that since the Internet contributes to cyberbullying, it is also one of the best tools to help correct the issue.

For example, Facebook now has the capability to detect and file a report in its safety center when teens write statuses that indicate feelings of depression or suicidal intentions. The safety center provides links to non-profit sites that can help teens deal with bullying and helps bullied teens remove hateful statuses or photos posted about them.

Which is comforting, since she says that 50 percent of bullied teens do not report the incidents to their parents or friends because they assume a “victim syndrome,” and feel too ashamed to share the bullying with friends and family. “They are looking for help, and since the Internet is a source of information to them, they will access sites and [I] am glad they do, as it is certainly a better option than seeing no alternative but to take one’s life,” Raether says.

But Thomas Jacobs, author of “What Are My Rights?” and “Teen Cyberbullying Investigated,” thinks teens seek out advice through online portals for a different reason. Teens fear that if they tell their parents about their bullying issues the parents will make them disengage from social media sites like Facebook. Jacobs says that by shutting down their children’s access, parents feel they are protecting their children from cyber bullies, but, in reality, their children view this move as punishment, since it cuts them off from friends.

And his advice to suffering teens is simple. “Don’t internalize the bullying or think you’ve been singled out and that you’re alone with this problem. Let us help end it and protect you,” Jacobs says.

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Belittle the Bullies!

Hey! Would love to encourage you all to check out! Help stop bullying. Belittle the bullies! And PLEASE PLEASE leave me comments in the feedback about your own experiences, what you’d like to see more of on the site and/or any questions you have for me. I will personally respond to each and every one of you with a heartfelt and genuine answer. I love you all! Thanks for the support and please keep reading! I am nothing without all of you!

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New Post on Belittle the Bullies!

New posts up on my blog.. any followers should check it out and help spread the word. Let’s stop the bullying that goes on in this world.

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