Michelle Young Is Just What ‘The Bachelorette’ Needed

There’s something disarming about Michelle Young. An elementary school teacher from Minnesota and a fan favorite of Matt James’ Bachelor education season, Michelle led the first few episodes of her season with an impressive mix of vulnerability and confidence. From her first episode, she’s dedicated herself to clearing up her men’s red flags — and on Tuesday, she made quick work of seasonal villain Jamie Skaar.

Jamie’s manipulation comes straight from the bachelor party villain playbook: He previously caused drama by warning Michelle that her character had been questioned, without revealing that he happened to be the only one who did. An unlucky candid camera shows Jamie telling a producer that “Michelle is in spring break mode and it’s really a letdown.” (New, that is a turnoff.)

Michelle wasted no time letting Jamie go once she figured out his game. While she was at it, she gave her men a directive: “I have worked very hard to build a strong character and will not bear to be manipulated in conversations, lied to, [or have my character called] in doubt,” she said. “I’m looking for my soulmate, and I’ve built myself up for my soulmate. And that’s not someone who breaks it down so quickly.”

This week’s episode was a testament to Michelle’s strength — her ability to not only withstand shocking experiences, but use them as inspiration for what she wants for herself. Like everyone else in Bachelor Nation, Michelle has expressed her commitment to finding love. Not everyone who says those words is ready – on the show or in real life. Michelle is.

During a one-on-one date with Rodney Mathews, Michelle mentioned one of her most important needs in a relationship. As she explained, her mother is white and her father is black – and the nature of their partnership has inspired her to do what she wants for herself.

“There are so many times when my dad didn’t have to say anything because my mom would be the one in the front,” said Michelle. “She protected him so much—as much as he protected her. That’s not necessarily a comfort I’ve felt in previous relationships.”

Michelle went on to explain that a recent relationship ended after someone called her the N-word at a grocery store. “When I got home and was visibly upset, the reaction was more like I gave the woman more power because I was angry about it,” said Michelle. “I tried to explain where I came from, and looking back, that was my sign.”

“I should never have justified my feelings,” the bachelorette continued. “Whatever emotion I felt at that moment, I was allowed to feel. And I was allowed to feel it as long as I wanted to feel it. If I have to explain that, I also explain that the relationship isn’t going to work.”

It’s these kinds of conversations that Bachelor education and bachelor party fans pushing for more diversity within the franchise hope to see. The franchise has a spotty history when it comes to telling authentic stories that go outside the usual homogeneous box, so Michelle’s season can never be a one-step cure. But so far it feels like a start.

Michelle – who I’ve never met, but whose charisma is powerful enough to make me feel like we’ve definitely had brunch before in a past life – seems to be someone who knows what she wants, and ultimately that will be what sets her off each other as a bachelor. Half the search for love can be an internal expedition – to figure out how to untangle the way we treat others now from how we’ve been treated in the past so we can see the person in front of us clearly. (At least I think so? As a single woman living with two dogs and dreaming of drawing a Carrie Bradshaw—that is, in this case marrying myself just for the registry—I may not be the best authority.)

Michelle – who I’ve never met, but whose charisma is powerful enough to make me feel like we’ve definitely had brunch before in a past life – seems to be someone who knows what she wants, and ultimately that will be what sets her off each other as a bachelor.

One indicator of Michelle’s emotional intelligence is how well she understands trust – not just in general terms, but how it should exist in all communication in a relationship. “The funny thing about trust,” she said at one point, “is that trust is something I really believe makes or breaks a relationship. It takes all those little or big vulnerable moments to build it up and it can be done.” collapse in one fell swoop.”

And nevertheless Bachelor education and bachelor party Poetry dates are usually a highlight, Michelle’s felt like the ultimate proof of her power as a bachelorette – a heartfelt poem composed of direct couplets. “Growing up, I looked around, knowing there wouldn’t be others like me,” said Michelle. “You see, society conceived me early on as the symbolic black girl. I was their stamp on diversity, all thanks to my diaper curls. As the symbolic black girl, I could still make friends; I was invited to all the big parties, as long as I followed the basic trends for white.”

“I was never the girl who was invited to fun dates in the apple orchard in the fall,” Michelle later said. “I was the girl who was picked last for prom, but first for basketball. I made a promise to empower myself, to amplify all shades of black, white and brown – fighting for opportunities that would allow them to the ground to bloom, being the role model young brown girls see when they look around.”

“Hey soul mate,” Michelle concluded, “if you listen, you must understand… in my heart all I wanted was love, and I hope you can be that man.”

What can I say? Disarm.

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