6 times model Iskra Lawrence has been our body positive hero

7th Jun 18 | Lifestyle

The activist from Wolverhampton is on a quest to help us love ourselves.

Elle Style Awards 2017 - London

Iskra Lawrence is at the forefront of the burgeoning body positive movement of models and influencers using their platform to preach self-love and acceptance.

Lawrence’s latest step in her journey for world body positive domination is her own documentary series called The Mirror Challenge With Iskra.

My first ever show the #MirrorChallenge that I created, produced with @clevver and hosted is now live‼️ Episode 1 is @angelsharibrown story. LINK TO WATCH IN MY BIO👆👆👆 Angel shares the insecurities she faced as a teenage mom when her new body had stretch marks, excess skin and more. She used wigs as a crutch and even a clip to pull her stomach skin tight. Angel did the #MirrorChallenge with me to face these insecurities and embrace her real self. ❤️ The reason I created this show was because redefining what I saw when I looked in the mirror helped me find peace and fall in love with my body. After years of battling with body dysmorphia and disordered eating, I came to the realisation if Instead Of focusing on the parts of my body that I hated, I would seek out things I could love and celebrate. After breaking the negative and damaging thought cycle or self loathing I was able to reprogram how I viewed myself and place value in WHO I was not just the outer packaging. Over the last few years I have shared this self-care with others and it’s has been life changing – so I decided it was time to share it with the world. So F your superficial make over shows, I don’t believe anyone’s appearance needs fixing especially for revenge or to fit into some perfected illusion that’s not even real. YOU and Angel were always good enough #timesup and now we will together decider to see that we are enough and celebrate the beauty in our differences and imperfections of who we are. So are you ready to watch episode 1? Let me know what you think in the comments and show @angelsharibrown for being so brave to be vulnerable and share her deepest insecurities with the us. ❤️ PS I can’t wait to see all of your videos and pics of you doing your own Mirror Challenges! 😘

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It’s a new kind of makeover show – instead of changing people’s appearance, Lawrence is trying to help them overhaul their issues with body image and self love. She told Teen Vogue: “We’re not giving people a personal trainer or a special diet, I’m just helping them think differently.”

This is by no means the first time the 27-year-old model has inspired us to love and accept our bodies a bit more – here are other times she’s been our hero.

1. She’s frank about her struggles

Both of these images are of me. The left is about 10years ago. And the right just under a month ago. I remember being proud of how skinny I looked during this shoot. And how now people call me fat when I’m just happy to be alive and grateful for this body I call my home. I used to seek approval from the fashion industry and tried to be “perfect”. I thought if I looked like “her” (an unrealistic beauty ideal), I’d be happy, successful and loved. All I found was failure (because you can’t change who you are) emptiness (because my time and energy was being used up trying to achieve something completely self absorbed and shallow sacrificing doing things I loved) and unhappiness (because no restrictive diet or abusive exercise feels good) I share my experiences with you all because if you are feeling like I did there is another way and those recovering from EDs you’re not alone. The best thing I ever did was focus on looking after myself and being the best me I could be. Seeing value in who I was. The impact I could have in the world and people around me. Trying to give, instead of focusing on myself, my image and needing approval from others. And accepting that I am meant to be here just like you, and we were all created to be imperfectly perfect. I started Investing time into self-care, doing things that made me happy. Listening to my body and mind and nourishing them both, without guilt. That is 10years all squished into a lil insta caption but it did take time but it was soooo damn worth it. Because of what I went through My dream has always been to get self-care (mental, emotional and physical wellness) education into schools. And I’ve started that, but I also wanted to create something for adults that still needed a safe space that’s judgement free to go on a positive journey of self love and that’s why I created @everyBODYwithiskra I don’t have all the answers and I’m not ever trying to change anyone or tell people to do this and that etc. But I felt the need to create this as I wish I could have had this when I was struggling and if I’m able to use that to help even one person even better. If you’re triggered by this post please contact @neda ❤️

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Even though she’s a beacon of confidence now, Lawrence is clear that it hasn’t always been this way.

She often discusses how she was dropped by a modelling agency when she was 15, and her subsequent struggles with eating disorders and an obsession with fad diets.

As hard as these experiences might be to talk about, Lawrence is making a point – she was miserable when she hated her body and was trying to make herself look a certain way, but she’s a lot happier since learning to love her figure.

2. She set up her own wellness website

Earlier this year Lawrence launched EveryBODY with Iskra. It’s a health and wellness platform that goes against all other diet and fitness plans you normally see. Her aim is not to get people to lose weight, but rather fall in love with food and fitness, which in turn will hopefully help you love your body more.

3. She’s waging a war against Photoshop

Lawrence is vocal about one of the most toxic things in the fashion industry and on Instagram – retouching. She’s leading by example, by showing off her curves and cellulite in pictures on Instagram, and also taking part in a campaign for underwear and swimwear brand Aerie that is dedicated to not using Photoshop.

4. She’s helping the fashion industry be more inclusive

Fashion is an incredibly exclusive industry, and is often seen to be only for those that fit into society’s unrealistic expectations of beauty.

However, Lawrence is working to make fashion for all. She helped launch Runway Riot – an online resource for women of all shapes and sizes (and yes, that means those who are above sample size).

She’s also opening up conversations around terminology – she doesn’t like to be labelled “plus size” because she doesn’t want to be categorised by size over anything else.

5. She keeps it real about the fakeness of Instagram

Did you know it’s body confidence Day? Yup it’s a legit thing and something I’d love to see you be part of by using #perfectlyme (head over to @seventeen insta to watch my video explaining what it’s about) You’re all reading this because you’re on my page / following my lil space on here filled with squares of images and vids of my life. I ALWAYS want to you remember these are curated even though they are unretouched you can see the diff between the first two pics which are more “posed” and the last which Isn’t. I’d also love you to think about who and what you’re following online and whether you feel empowered or disempowered and really listen to that because you deserve to surround yourself irl and online with positivity. So have a look who you’re following and see if maybe you can follow more marginalised people who aren’t represented in the media and need their voices heard. Right so this is turning into me rambling on. But that’s just it, I’m not perfect I’ve said this for years and also it was the focus of my TED talk that the pursuit of perfection is only detrimental to your mental and physical health. How can there be a definition when everyone is different and that’s what is beautiful. So on body confidence day I want you to feel empowered by the fact you’re #perfectlyYOU and so is your bestie and grandma and fourth cousin twice removed. We are all here in these bodies which are our homes so let’s start celebrating that and valuing and appreciating them for all their magical capabilities and experiences that they allow us to have in this world. Ok ramble over ILYSM for reading this (if u read it all comment 💪 emoji lol)🙏🙏🙏💯💕🦄⭐️✨ #nomakeup #nophotoshop #yesimwearingasmallbikinibutnothatisntconsent

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Lawrence is definitely aware of how toxic Instagram can be – pictures of perfection are pushed on people, and that can be detrimental for your mental health.

That’s why we love that she keeps it real in posts like this, and stresses how much of Instagram is highly curated. Lawrence sets a good example of surrounding yourself with positivity, listening to more marginalised voices, and remembering every so often that Instagram isn’t always real.

🐯⚡️I wouldn’t usually post this but… I do wonder how many posts that start like this are actually for real. Because most of the time the pics are FIRE and that’s a good enough reason to post…I don’t over think what I post unless it’s a message I want to share but if I feel good I’ll post whatever pic I want. A bikini pic or anything else doesn’t have to have a philosophical caption or be about body posi because maybe it seems more purposeful now or demands more respect. You deserve the same respect regardless of what you choose to wear. ALSO don’t feel pressure to post swim or underwear pics for likes, follows or because u see people like me doing it. Your comfort and confidence is wayyyy more important, so stay true to you. So anyway just my random thoughts right now and here I am feelin🔥 in Vegas flexin on the gram with my lil back rolls and thick thighs and cel-u-lit.. no airbushin no problem #realisenough #nophotoshop #aeriereal #vegas #cellulit #tigerstripes 🐯⚡️ Bikini: @aerie

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Also, we’re always going to love how proud she is of her cellulite.

6. She isn’t afraid to make a statement

Last but not least, how could we forget the time Lawrence stripped down on the New York subway? Not only was it incredibly brave, but she made an incredibly pertinent point – you don’t have to look like the magazines tell you to, all you need to do is love your own body on your own terms. That’s something we can definitely get on board with.

© Press Association 2018