Love Island’s Shannon Singh On Finally Taking Ownership Of Her Body

The reality star writes for Grazia about being exploited in her early modelling career - and explains why she started an OnlyFans to take back control.

shannon singh

by Shannon Singh |

I own my body. Let me say that again, I, Shannon Singh, own my body. As a 23-year- old Asian woman I am constantly told that celebrating my body is wrong. I am threatened, I am called a slut and I am told that I deserve to be sent unsolicited dick pics of all shapes and sizes without my consent.

When I was announced as part of the Love Island line-up, a lot of people decided to focus on the fact that I had an OnlyFans account. But what you might not know is that starting my OnlyFans was about choosing to take back ownership of my body. Because sadly, decisions I naively made when I entered the world of modelling are still affecting me to this day.

Like many young models, I allowed myself to pursue my desire of success without a full understanding and knowledge of how the ‘modelling’ industry can manipulate you into handing over the rights to images of your body. Release forms are standard practice, but once you sign those rights over to another person, images of your body can be distributed to whoever pays the highest amount of money. I have made some poor choices during my early career, but these were decisions made without the knowledge and understanding of what it means to sign over your rights to these images.

So, the decision to join OnlyFans was because I wanted to celebrate my body on my terms, two fingers up to the men trying to monetise off the back of the images they own of ME that I have asked time and time again to stop being distributed. I’ve lost the rights to those images of my body simply because, at the time, I didn’t have knowledge of how the industry can take advantage of you.

Coming out of Love Island {:rel=nofollow}reminded me that those decisions I made as my younger self will follow me for the rest of my life. If I could give my younger self - or any fledgling models - advice, it would be to never sign anything without legal representation and to always (where possible) know your rights. Remember that once those images exist, they will always exist and that you won’t always know how they will be used or who will get to see them.

On OnlyFans, I was responsible for my own content and that felt great. I took away the ability and control from these men, and women, who were continuing to monetise images that I deeply regret doing. Let’s not forget that OnlyFans is not a glamour modelling app: it’s about enabling YouTubers, fitness trainers, models, content creators and public figures, to monetise their profession and to connect with their fan base. And women like Lottie Moss, Megan Barton Hanson and Bella Thorne should be able to use the site to take ownership of their bodies and to feel empowered without being labelled negatively, too.

Despite its increase in popularity, unfortunately, it still has such a stigma around it. I haven’t always felt comfortable in my own skin so now that I am, it’s something I want to celebrate on my terms. But that does not mean I ‘deserve’ or ‘welcome’ the slut shaming that comes with it.

Nor does it give men the right to send me unsolicited dick pics. Cyberflashing is something I have had to deal with a lot. Most days I will wake up, inevitably I will check Instagram and BOOM! There they are in all their unglory – the unwelcomed dick pic.

At what point did it become ‘normal’ for people to be sent these ‘images’? It makes me angry. Often, I am told I deserve to be sent these unsolicited images, for going on Love Island and having an OnlyFans. Well, I don’t expect nor deserve to be sent images that make me feel uncomfortable. Online safety needs to be better, and legislation needs to be in place to protect young girls and boys from cyberflashing. In my eyes, it’s indecent exposure and those doing it should be held accountable. I was shocked to find out 41% of all millennial women have been sent an unsolicited photo of a man's genitals. However, most worryingly to me, was to be told that nine in ten girls at school have been sent unwanted explicit pictures. There needs to be repercussions, so maybe men will think twice about sending these pictures.

Since my very short stint on Love Island, I have been asked what’s next for me. It’s important for me to use my (potential) five minutes of fame to use this opportunity as a platform to advocate for things that I feel passionately about, such as slut-shaming, cyberflashing and the way young models can be exploited.

Yes, most viewers of the show will question why I didn’t play the game and play tonsil tennis with any of the lads, but the truth is that 48 hours just wasn’t long enough for me to connect with somebody. I was beyond disappointed to leave the show, but I remain proud of myself for sticking to my values. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity since leaving the show to showcase who I am beyond a light-hearted challenge, and I have nothing but positive things to say about my experience, the show, and the producers behind it.

I also want to remind everybody to remain kind. Whilst I have been overwhelmed by the support and love I have received since Love Island, I was sickened to find out about the online death threats made against Chloe Burrows. It is just a game show. And there should be consequences for those who send hate or disgusting messages and threats to anybody.

Yes, I could use these interviews to plug something or to set my own agenda, but I want to use these opportunities to remind people that actions and words can have consequences and can be damaging. Think before you type, think before you post and look at your reflection in the mirror and consider why you want to say these hurtful things to an innocent human being. Because it’s not OK.

As I move into my next chapter since leaving the show, I am keen to continue gaming - I’m a massive geek but that’s me! - on Twitch. I’m not naïve to think that my short time on the show will open all the doors for me, but I hope that I can use this opportunity to promote kindness and compassion. Who knows what will come next... but loving myself will always come before loving anybody else.

READ MORE: Megan Barton-Hanson Talks OnlyFans, Single Life And Lockdown With Her Parents

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