NZ Woman's Weekly

Real Kiwi bodies: Shannon Ryan

Real Kiwi bodies: Shannon Ryan

What’s your relationship with your body like?

Great! To me the relationship is beyond my body. I’m well over being bothered by things out of my control. I’ve had stretch marks on my thighs and butt since I hit my growth spurt in my teens. The only reason I ever questioned them was because of those ads selling me the idea that an oil can make them go away, so therefore they shouldn’t be there, right? Wrong.

What do you love about your body and is there anything you’d want to change?

I wouldn’t change a thing. Making an effort to lead healthy lives for our friends, children, families and ourselves is where it’s at for me. I went to Malawi recently with World Vision and visited places where body image beyond health isn’t even considered. It was an experience that further enforced my priorities.

Are you happy in the skin you’re in now?

And the other option is? I’m happy with who I am and how I live my life. I now feel more comfortable when I put on a bit of make-up and have fun picking an outfit, because I’m not doing it to hide anything. Those are just fun things we like to do.

Have you ever been bullied for your size?

Yes, but they’re unwarranted, petty, hurtful remarks. I’ve had, “Oh you’re so skinny”, “I hate your legs” – and this is a grown woman saying these words. A guy who opened a door for me said, “You got to eat more, put some meat on those bones.” He obviously hasn’t seen me eat! These kinds of comments have been said to me many, many times since I was a kid.

How do you react when people make these comments?

If I based my understanding of my body and self-worth on what other people bark at me – “Oh wow, you’re tall and skinny”, “I want to be skinny like you”, “Real women have curves, like, hour-glass curves” – I would be a head case. A very, very confused individual!

What do Kiwi women think about their bodies?

I think Kiwi women rule. It just really sucks that we can become so hung up on image. How do we remove this idea that we have to either work towards this idealised body image, or cover up and hold anger towards ourselves? I’m an active person and want to look after my body. It’s in my best interest and shouldn’t be a taboo topic. It’s okay to want for a healthy life and it’s okay to have a treat!

How would you describe the real Kiwi woman?

She is varied. She lives in a great place and has so much to offer. That’s why we want to look and be at our best right? I think women in New Zealand know deep down that we are all different, and what works for me might not work for you. That’s why we need to support each other in our differences, so we can be more accepting of our own body image.

About Kelly Bertrand

“I started at the Weekly after a two-week internship in 2011, which was part of my journalism studies. Basically, I hung around and annoyed people long enough to land a job as a staff writer, and I’ve been here ever since. I’m lucky enough to get to write stories ranging from the Kardashians through to the Queen, but my real passion is telling the stories of New Zealand’s sporting stars. Sometimes I can’t quite believe it’s my job to hang out with All Blacks and Silver Ferns! I absolutely love working at the Weekly, and feel really privileged to be part of this 83-year-old Kiwi institution. I’m also fond of Instagram, coffee and animals dressed as humans!”

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Oct-27-2014-issue

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