Shaughna Phillips appeared on the 2020 series of the hit ITV2 dating show Love Island, and despite not finding love in the villa, she has since starred in other shows including Celebs Go Dating
The 27-year-old became the break out star of winter Love Island 2020, which was filmed in South Africa before last year’s Covid lockdown.
Despite winning a place in viewers hearts with her tumultuous journey in the villa, Shaughna has admitted that she lacked confidence as she compared herself to her co-stars.
“I felt I was the token ‘fat girl’ or a tick-box exercise for the show to be more body inclusive,” she told Closer magazine.
Shaughna said she felt like she had to be “the funny girl as all the other girls were so pretty and skinny”, and she heartbreakingly revealed she ended up crying to the show’s therapist about her body confidence issues, telling her she felt “so fat”.
But watching the show back, she admitted she “looked amazing” but didn’t feel one ounce of confidence due to a condition called lipoedema.
After leaving the villa in 2020, she was diagnosed with the condition, which causes an abnormal amount of fat cells to build up in the kegs, arms and thighs.
One of the symptoms of lipoedema is water retention, and Shaughna said the South African heat made her legs swell up, leaving her unable to fit into the outfits she needed to wear for the challenges.
“I used to think, ‘this is hell’,” she sadly shared.
She felt a “sigh of relief” when she was diagnosed with the condition, and said a “burden had been lifted” when she realised it was the way her body held onto fat, and not her eating habits.
The reality star is keen to dispel any myths around lipoedema, as many people still think “it’s a disease that affects only overweight people, but that’s not the case”.
Luckily, Shaughna has embraced her curves, and after speaking with the show’s therapist, she realises just how much she let her insecurities “taint my experience”.
“I think I look great now!” she exclaimed, as revealed she’s learned “being pretty or thin doesn’t equate to being happy”.
Shaughna has dropped two stone since August, after gaining weight during the lockdown at the beginning of the year, and she told the magazine she’s dropped more than 10 inches all over her body, leaving her “more confident and energised”.
She also underwent surgery in October, removing more than two litres of fat from her calves.