Shaughna Phillips felt like “the token fat girl” when she appeared on 'Love Island' in 2020.
The reality TV star says it felt like “hell” comparing herself to the other babes on the ITV2 dating show as due to her lipoedema diagnosis – a condition where fat cells develop on legs and arms – the South African heat made her symptoms worse and her legs swelled up in the sun.
Speaking to Closer Online about her experience, she said: “After watching the show back, I looked amazing, but I didn’t feel confident. I felt I was the token ‘fat girl’ or a tick-box exercise for the show to be more body inclusive.
“To make things worse, one of the symptoms of lipoedema is water retention, and my legs swelled up in the South African heat. During the trials, none of the outfits would fit me and I used to think, ‘This is hell.’ I felt like I had to be the ‘funny girl’ as all the other girls were so pretty and skinny. I’d cry to the show’s therapist and say, ‘I feel so fat’, but she helped me think more clearly.”
Shaugna admitted she had “been conscious of my legs since secondary school”, labelling them “my number one hang-up” to which she would compare herself negatively to the other girls and unde-eat to try and slim down to become a size 6.
The 27-year-old influencer explained how boredom caused by the COVID-19 lockdown she turned to food for something “to look forward to” and she piled on the pounds.
She – who was coupled up with Callum Jones for most of her time on the show – said: “Lockdown was completely to blame – I had no structure and food was all I had to look forward to, whether it was baking banana bread or cookies.
“My portion sizes were far too big and I didn’t eat regularly. I’d make enough spag bol to feed a village and, because I didn’t want to be wasteful, I’d finish the lot. I’d have biscuits for breakfast and eat mostly beige foods, like pasta and bread.”
A turning point for her came about when she found it difficult to fit into her clothes and realised when seeing herself in a photo that her weight had got out of hand.
The ‘Celebs Go Dating’ star said: “I’d look in the mirror and didn’t recognise the person staring back. I felt so uncomfortable and gained weight all over, especially on my arms. And when I saw of photo of me with my mum, it was a turning point.”
This motivated her to follow a diet plan – Muscle Food’s Goal Getter Super Slimmer plan – and shifted down from a size 14 to 10.
She opted for this method as it's a simple method that teaches her about the right amount of food to eat.
Shaughna explained: “I didn’t have the willpower to fix my diet so this has put me on the right path, and it’s shown me what portion sizes are right. It didn’t feel like a plan as I had tasty pre-prepared meals.”
Now, the reality TV star feels “confident” in her skin and has “more energy” as the result of her transformation.
She said: “I’ve worked hard to feel confident about my body again. I’ve lost 10 inches all over and I’ve got more energy than I’ve ever had as result of eating well. A few weeks ago, I ordered a pair of size 10 jeans, and they’re loose, which felt great!”Internet Explorer Channel Network