The first five episodes of this season’s Bachelor have taken fans for quite the ride. Tia is falling in love, Bekah M. was accidentally reported missing, and Krystal has secured her role as the villain.
It’s difficult to pinpoint how Krystal Nielson, a California-based fitness coach, earned her antagonist title. Sure, she had the first one-on-one, very-intimate date with Arie, and her front-runner status was seen as a threat from the beginning.
But rather than what she says during her long-winded toasts and cringe-worthy confessionals, it’s how she says it that seems to have made so many people want to root against her.
Call it a Bachelor first: a contestant disliked not only because of her bad attitude, but also because of her voice. Jimmy Kimmel has deemed it “the single most annoying voice in television history.” So we decided to ask experts why people want to hit mute every time Nielson opens her mouth on screen.
Nielson’s raspy voice is a sign that she has “vocal fry, a low staccato vibration produced by the fluttering of vocal cords,” Jayne Latz, an executive communication coach, tells Health. “It is actually a symptom of voice disorders but being used by healthy individuals today in increasing numbers.”
Vocal fry caught on with regular women after celebs like Britney Spears and Kim Kardashian began using it, and indeed, Latz says that most people who pepper their sentences with vocal fry are female. From her experience, she says, it’s an affectation adopted by women who want to be trendy. “It’s not pleasant to hear and is definitely affecting women in professional roles,” she says.
Nielson alluded to this when she told one YouTube personality in an interview that “I was working with what I had,” when asked about her “baby voice.”
Brian Petty, a speech pathologist at the Emory Voice Center in Atlanta, has another idea of why Nielson’s voice annoys people. “In the clips that I saw, she had a very exaggerated prosody,” Petty says. “Prosody is defined loosely as the variation in pitch that happens within the context of a sentence. We can manipulate prosody to express emotion, or emphasize certain words within a sentence.”
It’s possible that this exaggerated speaking style, which Nielson uses when talking to her fellow competitors, has led to widespread backlash in the mansion and on social media.
Exaggerated prosody “can sometimes make a listener think that the speaker is mocking them or being sarcastic,” says Petty, which would explain her status as the villain of the show. “Put that together with a very breathy voice, and the listener could easily make assumptions about the speaker’s intentions that may or may not be accurate,” he adds.
And while the other contestants are certainly annoyed with her voice, her potential soulmate may not really mind it. Petty believes that Nielson’s breathier voice is not a primary issue when it comes to attracting a mate. “Marilyn Monroe had a very breathy voice and was considered quite attractive in her time,” Petty says.
Is Nielson on the show to make enemies, or is she aspiring to be the newest face of Fit Tea? We’ll have to wait and find out on tonight’s episode.