“The Bachelor” contestant Victoria Fuller is speaking out after a scandal involving a resurfaced photo of her modeling for a brand inspired by the White Lives Matter movement.
After she began appearing on the reality dating show – Fuller, 26, is still competing for star Peter Weber’s heart as one of his final four contestants – photos resurfaced of her modeling for a brand in a hat that read “WLM.” In photos from the brand’s since-deleted Instagram account (@wlmapparel_clothing), it also sold shirts that read “WHITE LIVES MATTER” and ‘MARLINLIVESMATTER.COM,” the latter of which used a Confederate battle flag design with marlins in place of stars.
Fuller broke her silence Saturday in an Instagram story apologizing for her involvement with an organization she referred to as “We Love Marlins.”
“My intention was only to support an endangered species,” she wrote. “I want to say that I unequivocally reject the beliefs of the white lives matter movement or any propaganda that supports racism of any kind. I would like to specifically apologize to people of color that are affected by racism daily. It was never my intention to add fuel to the racial fire in this country.”
She added: “This has truly been an educational moment for me and I hope to be a voice against racism moving forward. I hope I can be shown grace as I navigate through this process.”
USA TODAY has reached out to representatives for “The Bachelor” for comment.
In a 2016 interview with The (Salisbury, Md.) Daily Times, part of the USA TODAY Network, shirt designer George Lamplug said he had no intention of sparking controversy with the brand, which sold “White Lives Matter” in promotion of white marlin and “Blue Lives Matter” in promotion of blue marlin.
“The response has been mostly positive,” Lamplugh said. “Any person who sees the shirt and sees that flag will know what it’s for. … At what point do we start getting offended? Where is the line? At the end of the day, people are way too sensitive today.”
On a group date during the show’s Feb. 4 episode, Fuller won a competition that was supposed to land her a Cosmopolitan magazine digital cover photo with Weber in March. But as the photos of her wearing the WLM hat continued to make rounds on social media, the Cosmo editor-in-chief announced plans to pull the photo.
Photos of Fuller and Weber – plus more photos of other contestants on the date – were still printed inside the March issue because of print deadline constraints, though editor-in-chief Jessica Pels wrote in a letter from the editor following the episode’s airing that they would not publish the digital cover, teased in the print issue, on the Cosmo website or social media accounts.
“Unequivocally, the White Lives Matter movement does not reflect the values of the Cosmo brand. We stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, and any cause that fights to end injustices for people of color,” Pels wrote.
Contributing: Gino Fanelli, The Daily Times