By Molly Taylor
TWO young Limestone Coast women united in friendship are delivering messages of positivity and empowerment across the region through a raw and relatable podcast.
It was a late night conversation during the peak of Covid-19 isolation earlier this year that beauty therapist and mother Reanna Wetherall, 23, and blossoming real estate agent Imogene Ryan, 25, established their popular podcast Best Version of YOU.
What start as a hobby for the two young women has transformed into an inspiring self-love program with a large following on social media and hundreds of listens on Spotify.
In recent weeks the pair have transcended their usual platform through headphones or car stereos and have held school-based presentations at schools around the region.
Now in its third season, Ms Ryan said podcast aimed to inspire people to be their best version of themselves by listening to unfiltered interviews with Limestone Coast personalities, including sporting icons, business owners, entrepreneurs and colourful members of the public.
“We came together in isolation and Re and I felt like as there was no netball and we couldn’t catch up with anyone, so we just didn’t really know what to do,” she said.
“We both like listening to podcasts and we were just messaging each other one night and came up with this idea.
“We started Googling things and it evolved from there. I think because it is so honest and relatable, people have just got around it.”
The first episode involved Ms Wetherall and Ms Ryan introducing themselves and opening up their personal lives to the online world.
Growing up in Penola, Ms Wetherall moved away to Adelaide for three years, relocating back to the Limestone Coast and establishing her business Beauty by Re.
Ms Ryan works as a real estate agent at SAL Real Estate and was born and bred in Mount Gambier, living here her whole life.
At age 21, Ms Wetherall had her daughter Mila and said a sense of loneliness throughout her pregnancy had planted a seed for wanting to do something new and different.
Ms Wetherall first met Ms Ryan when she joined Kalangadoo Football Club and a friendship was formed.
“For me personally, I wish I had something like this to look up to,” she said.
“The main reason I wanted to do this was I want Mila to grow up and know her worth and that she’s important.”
Ms Ryan said although each interview had criteria which needed to be met, most of the time the episodes followed a natural flow and explored each individual’s personal journeys.
“I think it is just so inspiring and I love listening to everyone’s stories, what they have been through or what they have done to get to where they are,” Ms Ryan said.
“It is good to show people they didn’t just become a success story over night, they have gone through a lot as well.
“It is relatable and honest and people have really opened up to us and the community, which makes them very vulnerable.”
When first launched, Ms Wetherall said the podcast goal was to help at least one person, which has already been achieved.
“It has helped the both of us and at the end of the day, we have benefitted from it, as well as everyone else who has reached out to become part of it too,” she said.
“We just want people to know they are not alone, because there are people out there who may be going through the same stuff.
“That there is also hope, just say for example you had a rough upbringing and it doesn’t mean the rest of your life has to be like that.”
Just last week, the positive body-image campaign EveryBODY is Beautiful, coordinated by Ms Wetherall and photographer Louise Agnew, was released across a variety of platforms, featuring eight Limestone Coast women and culminating with a podcast.
Ms Wetherall said after witnessing first-hand the struggle many females had with their body image she approached Ms Agnew in an effort to motivate change.
Ms Agnew said when she was contacted, she could not say no for a number of reasons.
“I am passionate about changing the dialect around bodies and I want my children to grow up in a world that accepts people for who they are on the inside,” she said.
“Through my own experience of living in both a small and large body, I now know that happiness comes from within, it is not shaped by the way you look.
“I hope people speak more kindly about themselves and embrace others too. Our children are sponges and I want for us to all radiate confidence where possible.”
Reflecting on the campaign success, Ms Wetherall said at the end of the day self-worth was not determined by a number on the scales.
“It ties in with our podcast as well, as it’s all about having something people can relate to and to not feel as though you are alone.”
Recording for this year’s Best Version of YOU podcast is almost complete, with Ms Ryan and Ms Wetherall planning bigger and better things for 2021.