Let’s be honest. A housewife in Orange County, California, with food issues is not that unusual. What makes Shannon Beador special is that she’s currently dealing with a major weight gain due to heavy drinking and emotional overeating on a national stage on Bravo’s Real Housewives of Orange County.
Shannon is about 40 pounds heavier than she was when she joined the RHOC cast for season nine in 2014. Back then she was a fun addition to the cast, who were mostly jaded, veteran housewives. She was everything a Bravo viewer could want. She had a 13,000 square foot mansion overlooking the ocean, beautiful children and of course, a taste for booze and the requisite “OC housewife” look. You know: blonde, polished, very thin and of indeterminate age that could be anywhere between 35 and 55, thanks to the miracles of cosmetic surgery.
But in spite of her appearance, Shannon came with a boatload of quirks—and drama. It turned out she had a serious obsession with healthy living and was so into new age beliefs that she had crystals built into the walls of her home when it was under construction. Her children weren’t allowed to carry cell phones because of her concerns about radiation. She always kept exactly nine lemons in a bowl in her kitchen—for Feng Shui, not for eating. She also did things like pass out vitamin packets designed to alleviate hangovers to the other women during a night of heavy drinking and visit her beloved holistic doctor three times a week on camera. It was a little obsessive, to say the least.
Shannon also happened to be at a low point in her marriage during the filming. As the season unfolded, it was revealed that Shannon’s husband of 14 years, David, was having an affair. The cheating and marriage drama dominated the show and became Shannon’s main storyline—it still is years later. Over the course of Shannon’s three seasons on RHOC, the Beadors have gone from the brink of divorce to a surprise vow renewal and apparent total relationship resurrection. And through it all, Shannon has continued to drink like a fish.
Drinking is a huge part of all the Real Housewives shows. Many of the women have even leveraged their reality TV fame and love of alcohol into wine and liquor brands, with varying levels of success. Shannon’s drinking has always seemed a little extreme, especially because of her intense personality and otherwise fanatically healthy lifestyle. Despite her commitment to green living and clean eating, Shannon has always been open about the fact that she dislikes exercise. In the last year, Shannon’s love of drinking, obsessive personality, distain for physical activity and emotional instability have caught up with her and resulted in a very obvious weight gain.
In true drama queen fashion, Shannon is blaming her weight gain on stress. More specifically, she’s seems to hold cast-mate and long-time OC housewife Vicki Gunvalson somehow responsible. The two have been feuding since Shannon made it her personal mission in life to prove Vicki’s boyfriend was faking his cancer diagnosis. Vicki shot back at Shannon on the season 11 Reunion show, accusing David Beador of domestic violence. It’s all very messy (making for great reality TV). Unfortunately, Vicki’s allegations against David do have some basis in fact since he was arrested for battery during a fight with Shannon back in 2003. Nobody is buying the fact that stress over the fight with Vicki made Shannon fat. But it could be feasible that the combination of an already stressful marriage, a tendency to drink too much and overeat, along with a sedentary lifestyle, caused Shannon to pack on the pounds.
In the new season of RHOC, which premiered July 10, Shannon has been candid about her compulsive eating habits and the emotional toll the weight gain has taken on her. She says she hardly recognizes herself in the mirror and refuses to buy new clothes because she doesn’t want to accept the current shape of her body. She does seem to be making an effort to eat better and hit the gym, but that’s only what we see on camera; who knows what she eats when the film crew leaves. Also significantly absent is a mental health component to her holistic wellness routine. With the relationship issues and her lack of healthy coping strategies, it looks (to this viewer) like her struggles are more than skin deep.
Shannon may not be sharing with a therapist, but she has been sharing her struggles with the whole world using social media. In a recent Instagram post, she put up two pictures side by side. The first was taken five years ago and featured Shannon and a friend looking super skinny, clad in bikinis. Next to it was a current pic of her and the same friend, standing in the same cabana, with Shannon wearing a loose caftan and looking much heavier. Her caption read, “Same cabana. Same amazing friend. Not the same body.”
Shannon also posted a recent RHOC promotional photo on Instagram. With it, she wrote, “Gaining weight and trying to take it off is a struggle that most women will face at some point in their lives. I am hopeful that my fans and viewers of the show will be supportive of my journey.” It’s true that Shannon’s struggle makes her relatable and watching her get back on track could be a great inspiration for her fans. Let’s just hope she addresses her emotional health and not just the physical aspects. Without getting help with the core issues that have contributed to her compulsive overeating and problem drinking, she may get skinny, but she’ll be right back where she started.
Photo courtesy of Instagram