The other women of 2018’s The Bachelor laughed at her for insisting her name is Vanessa Sunshine – never just Vanessa – and wearing black stilettos on her first-ever camping trip. But the mermaid-haired Melburnian proved Australians like watching a hard-to-get feminist.
Immediately after she was rejected by titular star Nick ‘Honey Badger’ Cummins on Thursday night, mainstream and social media went mad for Vanessa Sunshine, who started off the series as the show’s resident villain.
She told The New Daily she “didn’t struggle” with anyone in The Bachelor house, but said the “disgusting” behaviour of fellow bachelorettes Romy, Cat and Aleisha was worse in reality than reality TV.
“Even if I didn’t like someone, I didn’t belittle or degrade them,” Vanessa said.
“They commented on my appearance all the time. I may not smile, but it doesn’t mean I’m a bad person.”
By the time she missed out on a rose, the 27-year-old had evolved into what website NowToLove called “the hero Australia truly deserves” and Mamamia raved over as “the feminist icon we didn’t know we deserved.”
Why? All in the authenticity. From her first entrance, Vanessa “Sunshine” Bennet reacted to fellow contestants screaming over a date invitation with Nick, 30, in the same way we rolled our eyes watching at home.
“I’m happy inside. I’m not one of those girls that’s like ‘ahhhh’ when I bloody get my name read out,” Vanessa told the reality show’s producers after discovering she’d been selected for a date.
Vanessa Sunshine didn’t feel obligated to feign enthusiasm at the Honey Badger’s dad jokes or fall in love with him in five minutes. She even admitted she didn’t find him instantly attractive, asking if he was open to a “little make over”.
“I’m like, ‘Who’s this dude?’” she explained to the stunned 30-year-old heartthrob. “Blonde, curly mullet with this like, curling moustache…”
Often caught on camera with her self described “resting bitch face”, Vanessa Sunshine told The New Daily audiences are used to seeing women fawn over the Bachelor.
“Everyone handles things differently, and everyone is entitled to that,” Vanessa Sunshine said in her signature straight manner during a Friday phone call.
“I was just being myself and they’re [viewers] so used to watching women naturally just fall for their Bachelor.”
The former legal secretary explained her “I give zero f—s” attitude in an “extremely blunt” video post on Instagram on Thursday night to explain her “approach as a wild card” and resistance to “put someone on a pedestal who hasn’t earned the right to be there”.
I’m going to be extremely blunt “I will never ever put someone on a pedestal who hasn’t earned the right to be there”. My approach was a wild card, you’re used to watching women automatically fall for The Bachelor and scramble to profess their feelings, vying to be the last one standing to claim their (man) prize. Obviously I was a different kind of woman thrown into the mix this season. I was 100% true to myself, did not compromise my morals and values, get caught up in “clickyness” or group dynamics that do not interest me. I own the resting bitch face look, my sense of humour is very dry, sarcastic and a little bit cheeky. My attitude is for lack of a better statement “I give zero fucks” I simply don’t feel the need to justify myself to everybody, am very aware I’m “different”, always have been and I’m totally comfortable and ok with this fact because I know who I am, can back myself, know my value and worth and no one is going to take that from me. When entering this experience I was looking for someone funny and genuine. A man who’s sincerity I don’t have to question and who doesn’t question mine. I want to be with someone who wants to build a life and future together, have children and create a loving family and this still applies. However, I never had a preconceived idea that “The Bachelor” was “the one” for me it’s simply not my style and I was just trying suss out if he was or wasn’t for me. I have the words “trust your intuition” tattooed on my inner forearm as a gentle reminder. My gut told me that this is what I needed to do, so I hit submit on that application form and was fortunate enough to be selected. Suppose my point at the end of the day is I’m a woman who was simply being myself and doing my own thing. If my experience has shown just one person that’s it’s ok to be completely yourself, to back yourself, not put up with bullshit and stay true to you when faced with adversity, then for me everything was worth it. I am so grateful for this experience Nick just simply wasn’t the person for me, nor I the person for him and that’s ok 🙃 #TheBachelorAU
A post shared by 🌹Vanessa Sunshine (@vanessa.sunshine) on
Contrary to reports that the scathing serve contravened Ten’s social media policy for exiting Bachelor contestants, “The post was approved by Network Ten,” a spokesperson for the show told The New Daily.
Added a network source, “She is a total queen.”
Her message also captured the attention of her former romantic competitors, who said they had misunderstood her while in The Bachelor mansion.
“Nobody knows what’s going on in the interviews so it’s been really nice to be acknowledged as a quiet person, a bit introverted,” Vanessa Sunshine said.
“I didn’t open up to anyone else but a few people. I’m very civil and cordial.
“I’m never having ‘deep and meaningful’ [conversations], but once they saw what I was like in my interviews they reached out from that.”
When asked if she identified as a feminist, Vanessa Sunshine told The New Daily the comments had “nothing but a positive connotation”.
To her, “Feminism is supporting your fellow women – I wouldn’t walk around saying that I’m a feminist – but if that’s all that feminism is, I definitely support that,” she said.
Vanessa Sunshine was coy in her plans for the future, but revealed she was taking a break from her work as a legal secretary.
She also wouldn’t rule out becoming a contestant on spin-off shows, The Bachelor in Paradise or 2019’s The Bachelorette: “I’m open to whatever opportunities come my way.”
Until then, she said she’s enjoying time at home in Melbourne with her Maine Coon cat, Pushkin, indulging in brunch “make-up free” with her friends, avoiding online dating applications and learning about a waste-free lifestyle.