Well, we guess that’s the end of that little reality TV saga…
Earlier this year TLC‘s latest hit became the center of some serious controversy. If you haven’t seen I Am Shauna Rae, it’s the story of a woman named Shauna Rae Lesick, who — well, we’ll let TLC tell ya because folks keep getting annoyed at us:
Twenty-two-year-old Shauna Rae’s growth was stunted after a battle with brain cancer. From dating to driving, Shauna strives to have the independence of an adult while trapped in the body of an 8-year-old.
Grown woman “trapped in the body of an 8-year-old.” That’s literally how the network puts it in their promo, and where we got it! Shauna Rae herself has more recently taken issue with the show’s tagline, saying it’s “actually very inaccurate,” telling a fan on social media:
“I am not stuck in the body of an 8-year-old. I am a 23-year-old woman whose body is 23 years old. It’s matured. It’s gone through puberty. I’ve grown in areas that 8-year-olds don’t until they’ve hit puberty, which is later in life. I am just a shorter statured woman, and my body is at the average height of an 8-year-old.”
OK, with that all clear, her troubled dating life is indeed covered by the show — and went rather viral a couple months back.
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If you didn’t see, a man named Dan Swygart reached out to Shauna after seeing Season 1 and came to visit her for a few dates in Season 2. When we say he came to visit, it was a long trip. Dan is from Wales! So he traveled all that way to hang out with her after seeing her on TV? It was a big red flag for a lot of viewers. Comments ranged from being generally wary of his intentions to full-on accusing him of having a “Fetish” because “she looks and talks like an 8 year old.”
Swygart — something of a budding influencer with lots of sexy travel pics on his Instagram — took to social media at the time to defend dating Shauna Rae, blasting critics for not treating her like a grown woman and denying her happiness, etc, saying:
“I think it’s absolutely disgusting the attitude of some people. She’s been through so much in life. She survived cancer as a child, she’s always felt different and been treated different by society. But how dare you take away her right, her human right, to have a connection, a friendship, a relationship with someone else?”
Fair enough, right? HOWEVER… the thing that was always a bit off to us was the fact he’s talking about a real human connection and friendship — but he reached out after seeing her on TV. Our worry was about a guy maybe looking for his 15 minutes of fame! It’s hardly unusual in the reality TV world! He even launched a brand new YouTube channel on the back of the attention he was getting. It was all pretty sus to us!
Well, now that his time on the show is over, he’s still defending his relationship with Shauna Rae — but he’s making it abundantly, explicitly clear that at no time did he ever engage in any kind of sexual activity with the 23-year-old.
Dan appeared on Monday’s episode of The Sarah Fraser Show podcast and clarified:
“We got very, very close on an emotional level. I mean, it never really got physical, we kissed once. Of course, I wasn’t there for long periods of time … So it never really progressed into a relationship.”
Is it just us or is he being way candid all of a sudden about a really private matter. His whole thing was about respecting her, so he could have just said it’s not anyone’s business. But we suspect as an aspiring influencer he’d maybe rather everyone be super clear that he never hooked up with the girl. Maybe that’s just a sense we’re getting from that answer. But it kinda implies to us all the progressive, understanding defense he’s been putting out there is less about her and more about what the world thinks of him.
But hey, maybe that’s us…
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Dan also discussed on the podcast how he defended himself — and Shauna Rae — as they were judged in person as well as online:
“We went to a bar together with some of my friends, some of her friends and her sister, and there was a restaurant. We were eating in the restaurant, then we went to a dance floor, there was a bouncer at the dance floor. He lets us all in but he stops Shauna and she’s showing him her ID, and he’s like, ‘No, this can’t be true, no, no, no, wait, no way,’ and then the crazy thing was, in the corner a TV was playing and it was her show.”
“People were taking their phones out, taking videos of her, so I had to go up to them and tell them to leave. People came up to me and they were like, ‘Um, is it not past her bedtime?’ This is just one evening and it’s just constant.”
But of course the internet hate was worse. The 26-year-old reflected about being called, in so many words, a pervert for his interest in the reality star:
“With that just came this big, huge amount of hate, and I felt like the world was crushing me because obviously the media and people, YouTubers as well, they categorized me in the most hated group of people on the planet. Obviously, because of Shauna’s condition… they put me in that category. I just felt like that world was crushing me.”
But the videos he made gathered enough support to drown out the haters:
“I basically lost my faith in humanity, did these videos, and then a huge amount of love and support came and I’m so thankful to the world. Because that’s the lowest I’ve ever been in my life, with the world sort of crushing me like that, the world sort of saved [me], I had a huge amount of support… They started attacking all the negative comments, and people started deleting the negative comments and, yeah, the rainy clouds disappeared and the sun started shining and now it’s all fine.”
Yep, he was the good guy who did nothing wrong all this time, and he definitely didn’t message a reality star for views on his IG page. And now everyone knows he 100% never did anything physical with the grown woman he has all the utmost respect for.
Whattaya want, we’re a bit cynical! The man inserted himself into a reality show — and is still talking about it. But hey, decide for yourself! You can listen to Dan’s full interview HERE!
[Image via Shauna Rae Lesick/Dan Swygart/Instagram.]