During her time in the Love Island villa, Megan Barton-Hanson was judged for many things – her attitude to romance, her choice to have plastic surgery and her on-point style were just a few.
However, nothing drew more judgement than the revelation that she had once worked as a stripper and the fact that she had sex in the Love Island house on camera – two things which speak to the discrimination women who enjoy their sexuality still face.
Since exiting the villa, Megan has become a vocal spokesperson for gender equality and personal sexual empowerment – championing women to embrace their power and be unashamedly themselves.
'We are no different than men. Why should women get penalised for saying they like to have sex?' she told SHEmazing, who chatted to Megan about her new role as an ambassador for PrettyLittleThing – a role that is exceptionally fitting, with Megan and the brand's attitudes to self-empowerment and individualism harmonising perfectly.
'Why if you dress in a certain way you get penalised? Why if you're in a certain industry you get put down for that? I don't see why for men, it's applauded and they're praised for going out and getting a load of girls and have sex on TV, but if you're a girl, it's like everyone is in shock.'
'Especially the fact that I slept with not one but two guys on Love Island, people can't get over it, it was groundbreaking. But I don't see why its like that Adam (Collard) did exactly the same and he didn't get half the stick I did for it. '
When discussing her female role models in this space, the model cited vocal women like Amy Schumer and Amber Rose – who faced serious slut shaming at the hands of her ex-boyfriend Kanye West when he said ' I had to take 30 showers before I got with Kim,' following his relationship with Amber – literally implying that she was dirty.
'I think its time to move on and I think the more people like me who are in the public eye to say that there is nothing wrong with it, people like Amber Rose and Amy Schumer, the more girls will be open about it and honest, I think the more accepted it will be,' Megan said.
'I think it's really old fashioned to look at it as women need to be virginal.'
Megan revealed that she receives countless messages from women and girls who are facing bullying based on sexuality and slut shaming in their personal lives.
'Loads of girls DM me about similar things. Obviously it hurts when someone is negative towards you – it's taken me years to just own it and say 'do you know what, there's nothing I can do, this is just me and why should I feel bad that I have a high sex drive.'
'Im not ashamed of it, I'm not ashamed that I was a stripper. The first thing is, you have to accept yourself amd not care what anyone else says.'
Megan has always been open about her journey to self acceptance – despite being an exceptionally confident and empowering woman, she faced hardships like anyone else.
'It was difficult. My whole school life I was put down, bullied, for having different boyfriends and stuff like that, and then in my area I started dancing and everyone was like 'oh my God, I can't believe Megan's done that.'
'It was a journey and it wasn't easy but I think with age you just grow in confidence and learn to accept yourself.'
When it comes to personal style, Megan is known for her on-trend medley of high glam and street wear – with feminist slogan t-shirts being mixed and matched with curve-skimming dresses and edgy jumpsuits.
Her advice to anyone who wants to be more experimental with their personal style? 'I think you shouldn't take fashion so seriously, dress how YOU want to dress, don't worry about what other people are saying as long as you're happy.'
'I think people just take it too seriously, especially with social media, there are always pictures of what you have worn to this event and that (event), but it doesn't need to be so serious,'
'If one day you want to war a short body-con dress, do that if the next day you want to dress in street style like baggy combat trousers, do that,' she continued.
'Just embrace your body, everyone has got different shapes and sizes so just do you.'
The Love Island stars get a bit of slack for being fairly prolific with the sponsored Instagram posts – but Megan's social media is noticeably devoid of sponsorships.
Megan revealed that this was a choice of hers, as she didn't want to champion every brand which came her way as a gesture of authenticity to her audience.
'I felt like I had a responsibility, because a lot of people who watch Love Island are younger girls and they don't have loads of money, so I didn't want to put my name to everything just for the sake of me getting paid and advertising things I didn't believe in.'
'PrettyLittleThing really is a brand that I really do believe in, and I love the fact that they cater for all different shapes and sizes, it's affordable, it's on trend, and it's always been a brand I've loved.'