Not only does this model look great posing as a Marine, but she also happens to be a Marine in real life.
Dubbed the “World’s Hottest Marine,” Shannon Ihrke seems to possess the trifecta: brains, beauty, and brawn.
The 30-year-old, who is a native of Minnesota, told InsideEdition.com, “I love modeling just like I love the Marine Corps.”
Earlier this month, Ihrke, along with several other Armed Forces bombshells, went viral after partaking in a patriotic photo shoot for an upcoming calendar.
“Everyone that did the calendar was in the military, which is cool because I’ve done calendars where all the girls are dressed like they’re in the military but not all of them are,” Ihrke explained. “We all knew how to hold a gun, we all knew how to walk strategically and tactfully move, so that was cool.”
Ihrke went on to describe how she was stationed for four years in South Carolina and Illinois, before moving to Chicago to pursue a career in modeling.
“For the first 10 years of my life, I thought I was a boy,” the Marine-turned-model stated. “Then I remember getting my pictures back from my first photo shoot and being like, ‘Look at this, I actually look like a girl.’”
She said it was toward the end of her four years with the Marines when she was introduced into the world of modeling following some visits to Chicago to see friends.
Ihrk had been asked to participate in a runway show by a friend who was in charge of putting it together. Afterwards, other photographers began to reach out to her regarding different shoots, and from there her modeling career was launched.
“I went from feeling like a guy every single day … to having my hair done and my makeup done and my nails done,” Ihrke said. “I loved it. I was like, ‘Oh, I do still have this girly side to me.’”
Ihrke said things were drastically different in the modeling world, and it took her a while to transition back into civilian life.
“In the Marine Corps, if someone tells you ‘no,’ you can prove them wrong,’” she said. “In the modeling world, if someone tells you ‘no,’ there’s nothing you can do. You’re not it.’”
Ihrke has also said she’s had a difficult time adjusting her temper, noting that while in the Marines it would be perfectly fine to scream at someone for cutting in line, but while living as a civilian, “I can’t do that, I have to just chill.”
Ihrke has also let on that her entry to Marines was a startling change to her early life as well.
Ihrke had never pictured herself joining the Armed Forces growing up in a “one-horse town,” but following her high school graduation at 17, she began to rethink her life while attending college.
“I was going to college full time and I had two jobs. I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, by the time I graduate college, I’m going to be in so much debt,’” she said. “I felt like I was doing everything I’m supposed to be doing and I’m still not making ends meet.”
Her academic adviser told her about looking into The Armed Forces for help with tuition, and after she fell in love with the Marine Corps, Ihrke was shipped out a month later.
Nearly instantly, Ihrke said she felt out of place as a woman.
“On the way to boot camp on the plane, I’m like, ‘What have I done?’ I’ve always been athletic and stuff but like literally they say it’s a man’s world, but the Marine Corps is a man’s man’s world,” she recalled.
But Ihrke rose to the challenge and took the criticism as a means of improvement.
“You walk in with a target on your back. People are looking at you, like, ‘Can she keep up?’” Ihrke said. “As a female, you have to work twice as hard to be as good as them and you have to work three times as hard to be better.”
She thrived under the help of her female mentors and said her greatest accomplishment was proving herself capable of accomplishing anything she set her mind to.
“When you push yourself to the limit, you’re amazed at what your body can really go through,” she said.
These days, Ihrke is returning to her roots, working as a horse trainer at a ranch, as well as teaching children to ride. She is also pregnant and preparing herself for motherhood.
“It’s just been a real mix of the two sides,” she said. “Now with horses, it’s like I’m out there getting dirty, I smell like barn but I still like to get my makeup done and do photo shoots.”