The Bachelorette‘s face-off between Kaitlyn Bristowe and Britt Nilsson may have incited online criticism, but Bristowe – who was revealed to be the last standing woman on Tuesday night’s episode – says she doesn’t feel the premise went too far.
“I definitely had my concerns and questions,” the 29-year-old former dance instructor tells PEOPLE. “But I don’t think I would have gone through with it if I thought it was just sexist. At the end of the day, it is still a TV show.”
Bristowe, who works with RAW Beauty Talks to help empower women, says it took some practical thinking to get past any worries about sending the wrong message.
“I just kept reminding myself, ‘You’re on The Bachelorette. In what world is that real and what message is that promoting too?’ [The competition] was just another way of doing it. I just kept trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel. That’s what mattered to me.”
And throughout the process, Bristowe tried to stay honest with herself: “I did a couple of gut checks,” she says. “I didn’t have this goal of, ‘I need to be engaged.’ It was more, ‘I hope that’s going to happen because that’s what I came here for.”
For exclusive photos and more from Kaitlyn, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday
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The Bachelorette airs Mondays (9 p.m. ET) on ABC.