Eight weeks ago, this clutch of Kiwi women would never have dreamt of stripping down to their bikinis for the pages of our magazine.
Opening up their love lives to the nation on The Bachelor New Zealand was daunting enough without also exposing their bodies for our camera. But on their journey to finding happiness with heart-throb Jordan Mauger, these girls have discovered a confidence they never knew they had.
For while there’s no denying Nazanin Khanjan, Kate Cameron, Gab Devonport, Erin Higgins and Fleur Verhoeven have seriously hot, honed physiques, even more impressive is the self-assurance the final five have found to flaunt them at our exclusive shoot.
“Going into the house, it would have been easy to compare my body to the other girls, but at the end of the day, you get what you’re given,” says blonde babe Kate, 29. “As women, we should be proud and confident enough to own it. It’s become a bit of a default to be hard on ourselves – it’s so important to be kind to yourself and your body.”
Health-conscious and happy with the skin she’s in, our very own advertising guru once identified as “the chubby, funny girl in school”. But after years of ridiculing herself, Kate’s put the body shaming behind her. “It hasn’t happened overnight,” she confesses. “I could strive to be 5kg lighter, but I know I’d have to sacrifice all the good things that feed my soul. I’m good 80% of the time and blow out the other 20. I’m the kind of girl who will go for a run just so I can have that extra glass of wine at night.”
Superyacht masseuse Erin, 26, takes a similar approach to her body. “I certainly have my days when I don’t feel my best, but I’ve learnt to enjoy life regardless of the number I see on the scales,” she tells. “I eat healthily most of the time, but I don’t feel guilty about treating myself either – and when I exercise, I do it for the physical and mental buzz I get.
“Total health and wellbeing are always my priority. It’s great that the girls in the house all have a similar attitude towards body confidence. We are each other’s biggest supporters.”
Indeed, as the beautiful Bachelorettes emerge one by one from our changing room, sporting an array of bright swimwear, they are met with a barrage of confidence-boosting compliments from the others – “You look incredible!”, “That colour is so great on you!”, “Your boobs look amazing!”
It’s the very camaraderie intrepid adventurer Fleur feared she wouldn’t find on the series. “Before I came on the show, I was so nervous about meeting the other girls,” she admits. “The prospect of living with so many other women was honestly quite daunting.”
Growing up in a small village in the Netherlands, Fleur admits she had trouble fitting in as a teen. “I always felt very different from other people my age. I didn’t get into the partying scene, drinking or boyfriends. I was a bit of a late-bloomer – that was quite a dark and lonely time for me.”
It wasn’t until she reached her 20s that the aspiring youth worker found her calling – to help enrich the lives of others.
“I want to go into schools to help stop bullying, and to teach children to love and accept each other as they are. Encouraging a healthy body image is a big part of that.”
Marketing manager Gab, 29, agrees. “Being a role model is hugely important,” she says. “It’s a responsibility I guess I’ve kind of been thrust into, but it’s an important one to have. It’s all about remaining genuine, confident, respectful and well-rounded. I’ve learned to love my body inside and out, and I think people will look up to and respect that.”
Priding herself on a healthy and active lifestyle, the foxy gym bunny has made a special effort to keep up her exercise schedule in the Bachelorette pad, running regular boot camps for her co-stars. “I just needed a reason to get up every morning,” explains Gab, who works out up to five times a week. “I would find a hill to run up and organise some sort of circuit training for the girls – it was always lots of burpees, lunges and squats. When they wanted to sleep in after a late cocktail party the night before, I’d be the one dragging them out of bed.”
As for pint-sized pocket rocket Naz, the Iranian-born landscaper – who moved to Hamilton when she was four – wants to set the record straight about the breast implants she got when she was 21.
“I didn’t go under the knife because I was lacking confidence,” the 25-year-old insists. “I was confident before and I’m confident now. I’ve just always loved big boobs. While I wasn’t sure about it at first, all my friends were getting it done and I just thought, ‘Life’s too short!’”
A former bodybuilder, Naz endured a strict diet and intense exercise regime – including cardio and weights sessions twice a day, seven times a week – in 2014 to bulk up for a top competition, but since then, she’s enjoyed a more relaxed approach to her fitness regime, with her labouring job and kickboxing classes keeping her fit and toned.
“I haven’t been to the gym in two years,” she confesses. “I’ve been blessed with great genes so I can eat almost anything I like, but I prefer to eat healthily and stay fit. And what does she make of Jordan’s buff physique? “He’s got a fit body and it’s definitely very attractive. I think we’d look good together!”
See all new photos from our shoot with Gabs, Erin, Fleur, Naz and Kate here
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