I’ve definitely been on the receiving end of abuse for being a woman who celebrates my body and sexuality

What Shannon lost in Love Island screen time, she’s making up for tenfold in what she’s doing next. Here, she chats to GLAMOUR about taking back ownership of her body, the importance of Asian representation in media, and, of course, her time in the villa.

For those who were seriously disappointed with the first few episodes of Love Island series 7 (read: all of us) there were a couple of beacons of hope we could hold onto. One such beacon being Shannon Singh, the 23-year-old half-Indian influencer hailing from Fife, Scotland.

With a refreshing sense of her own self, bold confidence and absolute (unofficial) bombshell vibes, Shannon immediately stood out to viewers as one-to-watch. Unfortunately, the Majorca dream was cut short when Shannon was evicted from the villa at the first recoupling, just 48 hours after entering.

The past few weeks have been crazy, in the most amazing way.

The situation of me only being on Love Island for like 48 hours is kind of mortifying, but I’ve got everyone behind me and I’m so grateful for that. I never met anyone on the show, but this is the positive of it. I’ve got a voice now, where I can speak about stuff that is really important to me, which is hopefully what I’m going to be doing. I’ve not taken all the influencer deals.

I’m not taking every deal that comes to me and my team and I have been really protective about what we do. So, even if it’s five minutes of fame, if it’s a year, if it’s a whole career then great, but I at least want to use it for stuff that I think needs to be talked about. And I’m not exactly quiet am I?

After glamour modelling, OnlyFans allowed me to take back control from the people who exploited me in the early days of my career.

You know what’s funny, everyone still thinks I’ve got OnlyFans and I don’t! I stopped shooting glamour professionally when I was nineteen, just turning twenty, and looking back, I was a baby. I don’t regret it because it got me to where I am so I take it with a pinch of salt, but at the same time I was a baby, I was a teenage girl. When I hung up my boots, I still did OnlyFans and it’s great because you’ve got earning potential on your *own* terms.

And most importantly in my eyes, as shooting glamour is quite a daunting thing, OnlyFans does give you ownership back. You’ve not got photographers that get a cheeky photo that they shouldn’t have or something that they know they can use against you but because you signed a little piece of paper saying you agree to everything.

They basically own that content and they can do whatever they want with it, they can sell it, they can put it on Reddit, they can sell it on anything, they can distribute the content wherever they want. With OnlyFans, that still happens, but the only person you’ve got to blame is yourself because it’s your content and you’ve taken it and you’re in control of it… It’s a good thing for creatives because you’re in control and it’s not some sleazy photographer or somebody just out to try and make money off you and exploit your rights.

My advice to young women and girls in a similar position to myself or dealing with issues around image ownership would just be to own it.

I would never set myself up to the kind of potential exposure of Love Island knowing that I had skeletons in my closet. So everything that came out, I knew it was going to come out. Was I happy about it? I don’t think anyone would be, but you know, it’s worked to my advantage. I’ve got a voice now to sit and talk about it.

I would just say to young girls, always think about something before you do it. Like I’m an old soul, my mum and dad can’t really tell me to do anything! But they said if I wanted to go down the glamour route, I need to make sure that I know exactly what I’m doing. I think when you’re 18 or 19 and you’re young and you’re naive, you jump into stuff so excited. So you know, research everything that you want to do, remember that the internet is your friend, but also it really *isn’t* your friend.

Also, never be ashamed of anything you do, mistakes happen, but just know your rights. If you’re going to get into modelling, make sure you know about giving your images away and your rights away. When it comes to contracts, I’ve been a silly sausage and up until just before this kind of experience, I’ve never had a lawyer look over contracts. So just if you’re going to do something, just make sure you know exactly what you’re doing. And again, just be who you are, be yourself, that’s all that anyone can really ask of you.

I’ve definitely been on the receiving end of abuse for being a woman who celebrates my body and sexuality and owning that.

I get a lot of abuse and the majority is from men, it’s not a lot of women. This is what I love about female empowerment, a lot of women do stand by women and support them. When I went on the show I got told that some of the backlash was from some of the Asian community. Not all, I’ve experienced a lot of people supporting me, but like everything you get positives, you get negatives. I’m not speaking for every single Indian, I never want to do that, I just want to empower Asian women to be who they are. We’re in 2021 and stigmas and views of women generally have changed amazingly over the years but in terms of Asian categories, it’s really, really slow.

I get a lot of abuse from Asian men saying, “Take Singh out of your name. Why are you even named Singh?” Because in the Asian community you get Kaur and you get Singh, so if you’re a girl you’re supposed to be ‘Shannon Kaur’, or for males, you’re supposed to be ‘Singh’.

My mum and dad chose to call me Singh because that’s what they wanted to do, I can’t change that, but I get a lot of shit about it. I get, “Who do you think you are? You’re a disgrace.” Just because I’m strong and confident, I think it intimidates some men. So I get stick that way, but I think that’s probably the only hate that I get. And the other backlash that I get is just dick pics in my DMs, every five minutes. I woke up to like three this morning. I’ve had about another three. It’s really bad, really bad.

It’s like, what do you think you’re trying to gain out of sending me a photo of your genitals, you know? And this is what I’m getting to about the stigma is, I’ll get, “Well, you’re a glamour model, what do you expect?” Well, I’m sorry, I don’t expect dick pictures in my DMs every five minutes. If we did not have the internet, would someone take a photo of their genitals and post it through someone’s letterbox? Would they do that? No.

When it comes to inclusivity and diversity for Asian women in the media, I always think you can strive for more.

Even if a lineup is amazing with all different ethnic backgrounds and everything, you can never have enough diversity. Ever. So in terms of media representation, I don’t think there’s enough of Asian culture in the mainstream media. I don’t think they’ve got enough Asian visibility.

It’s obviously something that I would love to try and work on, but I tried and I lasted 48 hours, babe. So, we’re trying, and the good thing is, on Twitter and in my DMs, I’ve got some really good feedback like, “I love that you’re Asian and that you were representing Asia, come on, girl!” And it’s really nice to see because apart from Bollywood, and Bollywood’s not even a really realistic way for Asians to look up to, there’s really not that much.

When I was working in glamour modelling, my race was constantly questioned and undermined.

I’m Indian, but I had a different name when glamour modelling. Now people know that I’m Indian, but before it was like, “Oh what are you? Oh really?” I hate that question, I hate when someone in public comes up to me and they’re like, “What are you?” I’m like er, human. It’s rude. And then they change it. A lot of my friends, especially in Scotland, get riled up by it. I’m like you know what? It doesn’t mean that everyone is racist, it’s literally just ignorance. People don’t know how to speak about things without being really, really ignorant. Like what am I?! We’re all human. And they go, “You look Italian, you look Persian” and I’m like, well, that’s great, thank you, but I’m half Indian.

As a woman who’s striving for body autonomy in today’s society, I’ve learned that female empowerment is the most amazing thing, especially for Asian women.

I think girls who stand by girls are amazing and women never cease to amaze me. We are the stronger species in my eyes in every way, shape and form. I think we’re resilient, we’re strong, we’re creative, we’re independent. But I also think we’ve got a long, long way to go. Although I want to stand for Asian women, I want to stand for all women. I think for Asian women, there’s also still a lot of work to be done.

And I hope in a few years there are more television shows out and there are more Asian girls presenting and there are more Asian girls in music, more Asian girls in modelling. I think everyone can agree that there’s really not a lot of Asian visibility about. I think that’s why it was really quite a shock when people were like, “oh my God, there’s an Indian girl on the main line up” and I’m so proud of that. I didn’t know before if I was the only Asian girl to ever be on Love Island UK’s original cast. But I think I am, so I’m proud of that. And even if I lasted 48 hours, it was a good ride.

I’ve learned a lot on my journey towards loving the skin I’m in.

When I was younger, I got a lot of stick at primary school for having hairy arms and being hairy. I remember I was crying one day after primary school and my mum took me up to a little beauty therapy shop and I got my tash waxed and my eyebrows done. Then I started shaving my arms and that was at a really young age because people made me feel really weird because I was hairy when I was younger. I look back and I’m like that’s so sad.

Then I think as I got older, from my teenage years, my mum was so strong. I think everyone says that about their mum, but mine’s been through so much shit and she’s just really strong and I’ve just learned off her.

I think everyone needs to practise a bit of self-love even if it is really, really hard. Social media portrays this fakeness all over and we look at everyone Facetuning their photos and putting on this kind of facade to prove to everyone when really all they should be doing is living their lives… Everyone’s living this luxury, unattainable lifestyle and when you’ve got a large audience and the majority are kids, it’s really dangerous. It’s not attainable. I just want to tell young girls and even young guys, cause I know young guys can get insecure, that it’s not real and to just love yourself. I did struggle when I was younger with that, but I’m not struggling with it now.

If I had a second chance in the Love Island villa, I wouldn’t do anything differently.

All the boys in there now are not men. They are boys. I don’t know what they’ve done with the line up this year! When Liam had just come in, Liam’s beautiful and he looks like a man, but that is like trying to get blood out of a stone, unfortunately. The conversation is just so dead. So probably I would just be going in and making a wee friendship. I’d be with Hugo and I would just prance about and just have fun with it. But in terms of dating them all, oh my God no.

No danger. I’d eat them up and spit them out for breakfast. I think I went on the show, I was me and I think I was kind of a bit too strong headed. But for a show like Love Island, if I wasn’t feeling anyone I’m not going to milk it. I know some people do, for the sake of the show, but it’s a game. I think people actually lose sight of it and absorb Love Island and it’s like… guys it’s actually a game.

I’m rooting for the girls to win this year!

I want Libby to win. I’m not necessarily sure that I want her to win with Jake, but honestly she’s amazing. I can’t wait to see her, I’m really rooting for her. And I love Kaz, I think Kaz is a babe. So either of my two girls to win it. Kaz’s energy, did you see when Toby was begging her for like a reaction, she didn’t give it, and I was like, Kaz I love you. So any of my two girls. I’m hoping that some sexy hunk comes and whips Kaz off her feet because Kaz is a woman! She knows what she wants.

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