Shannon Singh: Love Island star from Fife opens up about time in the villa ahead of final
Shannon Singh has had a wild few months.
The fiery lass from Fife was only in Love Island for 48 hours, but in that short time managed to make waves. The 23-year-old has attracted an incredibly loyal fanbase and is now wielding her considerable influence to create change.
"I don’t want to do what everyone else does coming off the show,” she says. “I have started speaking a different narrative.
"I want to speak about Asian visibility, women’s rights. I’d rather use my five minutes to try and bring some good rather than get deals.”
Since being abruptly dumped from the villa on episode two, Singh has spoken out on serious issues – from female sexuality in the South Asian community, to women taking ownership of their bodies – and she’s recently launched a body positivity campaign, #ilovemine.
It’s not your typical former Love Islander behaviour.
“I hate the term influencer,” she says. “I’m not an influencer by any means. I’m just a girl from Glenrothes.”
Singh is speaking from her parents’ home in the Fife town, where she has been having some down time after “eight weeks of absolute madness”. She lives in London now, but says “my heart will always be with Scotland”.
She was one of the original 11 contestants on the seventh series of the enormously popular dating show. Originally coupled up with Aaron Francis, Singh was kicked off the show when Chloe Burrows chose to “steal” him.
Despite her whirlwind appearance on Love Island, Singh has inspired a cult following.
“I have managed to win over the hearts of people,” she says. Days from the final, people are still calling for #justiceforshannon and want the model to be abseiled back into the villa.
Singh says: "I was keeping everyone guessing, but if they asked me to go back in I would never. Even when I was on the show doing the challenges, I turned to Liberty and said ‘I don’t think this show’s for me’.
"Some people thrive in those situations and some don’t. Too forced environments, I felt trapped.
"We had just exchanged ‘hi’s’ then it was like ‘do sex positions’ and ‘snog’ and ‘lick their toes’ and I was like ‘wow, what is this?’. I can look back and say I tried it. It wasn’t for me.”
Somewhat controversially, the couple she wants to win is Teddy Soares and Faye Winter. The show received 25,000 Ofcom complaints after Winter unleashed an expletive-filled rant at Soares, reducing him to tears.
The pair have since made up and are now boyfriend and girlfriend.
“Everyone keeps holding that situation against her,” says Singh.
“They are the only couple I find real. The argument with Teddy I do not condone, she lost the plot a little bit. They have both moved on, they are now really strong.
"People don’t realise how intense that environment is. She has apologised. And the producers can’t force you to do anything on that show.
"Don’t get me wrong, they tell you to have some chats, but they don’t make anyone do anything they don’t want to do. It’s very much you are your own person, your actions are your actions. I’m really rooting for them.”
With #ilovemine, Singh is encouraging women – and men – to share photos on social media celebrating themselves, warts and all.
"It’s about posting stuff you wouldn’t normally post,” she says. “Or post something you love about yourself, an unfiltered photo.
"I posted about my scar. I told everyone I hate my teeth. Then I had lots of trolls telling me I have shark teeth, but I refuse to get them done.”
And to others, who told her she was too good looking to run this sort of campaign, Singh says: “Hold on, people can still have insecurities."
With filters and apps to hide any perceived flaws, the pressure for young women to create a perfect image of the self to show the world has never been more intense.
Meanwhile, influencer culture has exploded in the past few years, with beautiful people paid by advertisers to share their aspirational lives with their followers.
"Some influencers do post an unattainable lifestyle,” says Singh. “I find it really unhealthy. It’s not real life.
"They post fancy holidays that cost £17,000. When I was younger I was climbing trees and doing all these things, I wasn’t on my phone looking at Instagram.
“By promoting body positivity, I want people to see it’s real life and I want people to use Instagram for that.
"I used to work in McDonald’s. I’m an every day kind of girl.”
Does she think shows like Love Island, which is known for casting influencers, need to do more to show women with different body types?
"TV shows are always going to be TV shows,” says Singh.
“I’m always going to say people can strive for more diversity.”
But she says: "The thing that does annoy me about Love Island is you look at the line-ups and a lot of the girls have fake boobs and filler and everything. I think I was the only one that hadn’t had anything done.
"I think that’s a scary thing, sometimes the Instagram and social media frenzy is promoting all that.”
After leaving the show, she received messages from companies offering her lip fillers and nose augmentation.
Another dark side to social media she has experienced is the intensity of fans on Twitter.
Singh, who is half Indian, recently revealed she received racist abuse for sharing an opinion on one Love Island couple. Again, she wrote on her Instagram story: “Proud of my ethnicity. Anyone being racist can f*** off.”
"People need to realise everyone has different opinions,” she says. “Some people just really don’t accept that. These accounts they are almost searching for people that don’t agree to bombard them. Guys, relax, it’s a TV show.”
What does the future hold for our Fife girl? She’s busy with her body positivity campaign, carving out a space as a female gamer on Twitch, and is considering getting into radio.
“I want to keep speaking out about things,” she says.
And, if her 450,000 Instagram followers and #justiceforshannon die-hards are anything to go by, people want to listen.