"I was wrong," says Kirkconnell, after photos of her at a plantation-themed party surfaced online.

By Kristen Baldwin
February 11, 2021 at 07:42 PM EST

UPDATE: The 25 BIPOC contestants featured on this season of The Bachelor have released a statement via Instagram. "We're deeply disappointed and want to make it clear we denounce any defense of racism," it says. Read the full statement below.

EARLIER: Season 25 Bachelor contestant Rachael Kirkconnell has issued an apology for what she calls her past "racist and offensive" actions. The 24-year-old graphic designer has been facing a wave of criticism recently after past photos resurfaced, including one where she's dressed in costume as a Native American, and one of her from 2018 the "Kappa Alpha Order 'Old South' formal, an antebellum plantation themed ball," according to the Reddit user who posted the photo.

Credit: Craig Sjodin/ABC

In an instagram post on Thursday night, Kirkconnell admits her actions were "wrong" and "racist." She goes on to write, "I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist... I am ashamed about my lack of education, but it's no one's responsibility to educate me... I deserve to be held accountable for my actions."

Kirkconnell is considered a frontrunner to "win" Matt James's heart on this season of The Bachelor. Host Chris Harrison has also been drawn into the controversy surrounding Kirkconnell's past behavior: After a relatively cringeworthy interview with EXTRA correspondent (and former Bachelorette) Rachel Lindsay, Harrison issued his own apology for "wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism."

The Bachelor airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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