Published On: Wed, Aug 31st, 2016

Iskra Lawrence Thinks Plastic Surgery Is OK and Needs a Break From Social Media Sometimes Too

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The origin story of Iskra Lawrence, one of the most talked-about models on social media, is a tale she’s told countless times. Girl grows up wanting to be a model. Girl is told she’s not skinny enough to be a model, even though she’s a size 4, and dieting and exercising constantly. Girl changes course and tries to be a plus-size model. Girl is told she’s too skinny to be a plus-size model. Girl decides to accept herself. Girl becomes a star.

13423027_550150768503165_2059928286_nI had almost forgotten what I used to look like when I was battling with my body and my own thoughts of self loathing. One of my dearest gfs @iammelwells sent this pic to me today of us both when we were trying to break into the modelling industry. πŸ‘­I never knew that she was struggling with the same thoughts as me and neither did she know I was. πŸ‘©β€β€οΈβ€πŸ‘©The two young women in this photo both thought they were fat and too big. would pick themselves apart and then workout like mad at the gym or restrict what they ate because they had body dysmorphia. Some of you may look at the old me on the left and think I was slimmer and therefore healthier. No health is NOT a size it is a state of wellbeing. I did not have healthy thoughts or love myself. It took years to get to this point and there are still days were I let the dark thoughts creep in. Only yesterday I went to try some jeans on, the server said they would definitely fit (I mean they are the biggest size a 29) I couldn’t get them further than my knees. πŸ˜ͺFor a split second I was about to crumble because it can be anything that triggers those demons to come back. All those years I couldn’t fit into clothes or was told I was too big to ever make it as a model. But mostly the boundaries I had put on myself that my happiness would be determined by a number on the scales or that number in my jeans. Which is so F****d up because the truth is YOU get to decide your self worth no one or nothing else. You have to turn around to yourself and take control and say I am good enough, and I will be happy today and I know that I am beautiful because I am me. So please know that you are not alone, you may think you are the only one who hates what they see in the mirror but trust me a LOT of us have felt or still do feel that way. But you deserve to love yourself, it may take time but start today and never give up. ❀️#iskralawrence#everyBODYisbeautiful thank you @iammelwells for creating your book the #TheGoddessRevolution sharing your journey and helping to heal our relationships with ourselves and food you are incredible

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I’ve been part of #AerieReal for 2years and I’ve watched it grow from a campaign that committed to no retouching and using more diverse models to a movement which can empower us all. By sharing our spark we have the chance to impart our own unique voice to others. What I’ve learnt over the last couple of years and from connecting with all 2.4million of you, is that together we can communicate educate and inspire one another just by being our real selves. ✨ that is my spark and I hope you #ShareYourSpark I’d love to hear it! Thank you @aerie for listening to us & encouraging us to love ourselves from the inside outβ€οΈπŸ¦„ #iskralawrence #everyBODYisbeautiful πŸ“Έby @janellebendycki MUA @cdaymakeup styling @erincrittling AD @summietime

Two years ago, one of Iskra’s dreams came true when she signed with lingerie brand Aerie as an #AerieReal model. The campaign made headlines for being the first to abandon retouching in favor of a true-to-life depiction of its models. The 2016 iteration of the campaign is “Share Your Spark,” which brought together 40 different Aerie

women and allowed them to impart messages of positivity.

Iskra has been on a tour, of sorts, with Aerie, making stops at stores for meet-ups with fans. Some of them cried when they met her at a recent event in Toronto. “Effectively, they’re crying over a campaign,” she said, “but those girls are finally realizing that they don’t have to be perfect. They’re good enough being themselves. That’s why this campaign has been so incredible.”

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I dreamt of being in the @aerie campaign but I never imagined how it would have impacted myself and so many across the it doesn’t matter where we are from, our age or how different we may look. We were taught by society and the media to feel inadequate or insecure to buy into products or even a certain lifestyle. But what if the people behind a brand realised they could change this? That actually if we celebrated our diversity and felt empowered Together we could impact how we look at ourselves and instead of trying to change start to embrace who we are and work at being the best versions of ourselves. This is #AerieReal and it’s changed my life. And we can all be part of the movement because each of us has a spark within us that’s totally unique to us. And each one of us can share this spark to empower others or be a light in someone’s life. Everyone of us is so special and so powerful I hope that you #ShareyourSpark with me and if you want to know even more about the movement you can watch the YouTube video all about itlink is in my bio so proud of these two beauties in the pic with me @lalalipps@xyzeng_ . First ever photoshoot in lingerie and unretouched and they killed it!#iskralawrence#everyBODYisbeautiful The model, 25, spoke to Cosmopolitan.com about social media, plastic surgery, and what else is left to be done in the body-positive movement.

 

 

Is there anything you absolutely won’t do on social media?

I’m very aware I have very young people following me β€” 11- and 12-year-olds. I want to do things that are aspirational, so I’m not going to pick a picture that’s unattractive β€” even in the sense of lighting and angles β€” but I make sure that it’s realistic. It is me, and it is my body. I wouldn’t put anything out there that isn’t real.

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shocking it only took me about 10minutes to photoshop myself to “perfection”. But WTF is perfect? We weren’t born thinking flaws made you less beautiful we are taught by society and the media that we should feel insecure about our flaws so we buy into certain products etc to “improve” or attain perfection. I wanted to post the unretouched pic right next to the retouched one so you could see the impact of how a few edits all done on my phone can completely change the way someone looks. I can’t leave home everyday retouched & live in the “real world” airbrushed so why would I want to pretend to be online❓we are beautiful because we are us and we are so much more than our appearance. I hope when you see what looks like perfect flawless images of ppl online you don’t not ever feel insecure or less beautiful because it’s not real. What’s real is you and you are good enough cus those “flaws” make you completely unique. πŸ¦„βœ¨ #iskralawrence #everyBODYisbeautiful πŸ‘™ @simplybeuk Tag a friend who is beautiful just being the REAL

Do people ever body-shame you in real life anymore?

I’m very much a positive person β€” I put good energy out there β€” so I don’t feel like anyone would want to do anything nasty to me. However, my friend texted me two nights ago. She said she was at a bar, and she said she overheard people bitching about me. She stepped in, and she said, “I know her! She’s my actual friend! Don’t say those things!” She didn’t ever tell me what they said, but it’s just fascinating. I wouldn’t ever talk about someone that I’d never met. But the more I put myself out there, the more I’m opening myself up to that.

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still not photoshopped. still built not bought. No one can do it for you but let your own health and wellbeing be your motivation. Be your own goals AFπŸ‘‘ #iskralawrence #everyBODYisbeautiful

In one of your recent Instagram posts, you wrote you are “still built, not bought.” You make a point of calling out that you’ve never had plastic surgery, but how do you feel about other people getting it?

I never want to shame anyone. I love going to the gym, and I feel proud and fit. That, for me, is aspirational. There are things you can do in a very healthy, natural way. This is how I work with my body to make it the best I can be. That’s the shape that I have, just toned and tight. That’s my preference.

wanted to take a post workout pic to show you that without sweating my ass off and hardly being able to walk out the gym cus my legs are jelly. πŸ’™I do this because I eat what I want (in moderation) I bloody love πŸ©πŸ«πŸ• and I never feel guilty because I also eat nutritious foods and reward myself with exercise. I haven't dieted, calorie counted in 6 years or weighed myself. 🌸 I've learnt what works for me by listening to my body. πŸ’›I now train 3 times a week for about 2 hours starting off with cardio warm ups like skipping and boxjumps. ✨ moving onto light weights and getting upto my heavy squats finishing off with stretching. πŸ’™It's taken me 5 years of consistently working out no matter where I am (you can exercise anywhere at anytime esp when traveling) trying all sorts of PTs, classes & YouTubes to get to the point where I LOVE working out because I want to be healthy and strong for life. πŸ¦„βœ¨I have never regretted a workout and when I struggle for motivation I just remember how good I felt after the last time. πŸ™ŒπŸ’ͺ🏼 no one can hand you motivation but you and your body deserve it. You only have one body this lifetime so why not look after itπŸ’•βœ¨πŸŒΈ #iskralawrence #everyBODYisbeautiful 🚫no retouching, filters, make up just sweat lol wearing all @aerie and for anyone who about to comment it's #builtNOTbought

wanted to take a post workout pic to show you that without sweating my ass off and hardly being able to walk out the gym cus my legs are jelly. πŸ’™I do this because I eat what I want (in moderation) I bloody love πŸ©πŸ«πŸ• and I never feel guilty because I also eat nutritious foods and reward myself with exercise. I haven’t dieted, calorie counted in 6 years or weighed myself. 🌸 I’ve learnt what works for me by listening to my body. πŸ’›I now train 3 times a week for about 2 hours starting off with cardio warm ups like skipping and boxjumps. ✨ moving onto light weights and getting upto my heavy squats finishing off with stretching. πŸ’™It’s taken me 5 years of consistently working out no matter where I am (you can exercise anywhere at anytime esp when traveling) trying all sorts of PTs, classes & YouTubes to get to the point where I LOVE working out because I want to be healthy and strong for life. πŸ¦„βœ¨I have never regretted a workout and when I struggle for motivation I just remember how good I felt after the last time. πŸ™ŒπŸ’ͺ🏼 no one can hand you motivation but you and your body deserve it. You only have one body this lifetime so why not look after itπŸ’•βœ¨πŸŒΈ #iskralawrence #everyBODYisbeautiful 🚫no retouching, filters, make up just sweat lol wearing all @aerie and for anyone who about to comment it’s #builtNOTbought

But my mom’s had a nose job, and it’s the best thing she ever did. Her nose broke at school, and so she was always really insecure about the bump she had. The difference since? She’s been able to have photos. She used to sit only on one side of my dad. I’m so proud of her for doing it.

me and my momma πŸ€— she's the best.. Thank you for giving me the best possible life and given me the best examples to live by.. #WeAreAerieReal both our bikinis are @aerie πŸ˜‹βœ¨ #everyBODYisbeautiful can you believe she's nearly 50!!! You look incredible momma πŸ™ŒπŸ»πŸ’˜ 🚫no retouching 🚫no filter #TheRealYouIsSexy

me and my momma πŸ€— she’s the best.. Thank you for giving me the best possible life and given me the best examples to live by.. #WeAreAerieReal both our bikinis are @aerie πŸ˜‹βœ¨ #everyBODYisbeautiful can you believe she’s nearly 50!!! You look incredible momma πŸ™ŒπŸ»πŸ’˜ 🚫no retouching 🚫no filter #TheRealYouIsSexy

It’s wonderful that people have that opportunity to change their lives if it’s something that affected them. Just making sure you do it for the right reasons and you do it for you β€” I think that’s the main thing.

Being on social media all the time can get depressing for people β€” at least it can be for me. Do you ever feel that way?

I definitely have that. I have more commitments in the sense that I have to promote certain Aerie things, or people want me to post about this and that. I want to keep up to date, and I want to make sure people following me don’t think I’ve abandoned them. You have different types of days, and you have those days when you just want to be a hermit and lie in bed and don’t even want to get out of the house, let alone post something online and share it with the world.

we have arrived in paradise😍 if you wanna watch my new vid interviewing on the streets of NYC getting body confidence tips for summer πŸ‘†πŸΌclick the link in my bioπŸ‘†πŸΌ by @therunwayriot thank you @adoreme love my cover up πŸ™Œβœ¨πŸ’• #iskralawrence #everyBODYisbeautiful

we have arrived in paradise😍 if you wanna watch my new vid interviewing on the streets of NYC getting body confidence tips for summer πŸ‘†πŸΌclick the link in my bioπŸ‘†πŸΌ by @therunwayriot thank you @adoreme love my cover up πŸ™Œβœ¨πŸ’• #iskralawrence #everyBODYisbeautiful

There are days when I take a vacation from social media. I did on holiday β€” I think in three weeks I maybe posted four or five photos, when sometimes I post three in a day. That was a huge break for me. Phones are interesting objects. Sometimes you wish they just didn’t exist.

no make up no filter no need cus the real you is sexyβ„’ wearing @aerie and yeah @erincrittling I've pulled these babies right up just for you 😜 90s style haha love ya😘 #iskralawrence #everyBODYisbeautiful 🚫no retouching #builtNOTbought #AerieREAL

no make up no filter no need cus the real you is sexyβ„’ wearing @aerie and yeah @erincrittling I’ve pulled these babies right up just for you 😜 90s style haha love ya😘 #iskralawrence #everyBODYisbeautiful 🚫no retouching #builtNOTbought #AerieREAL

You’ve talked about the plus-size label in the past and how you don’t think you should be categorized as plus. Would you be offended if you were referred to as a plus-size model now?

Theoretically, I fit into plus-size clothes in some brands, depending on what size they start at. Certainly in Europe, plus-size brands start at a smaller size, some of them in a U.S. 8. I have and still do work for some plus-size brands. The label doesn’t bother me at all. I understand that it’s a categorization within the industry to simplify things, but it’s made people feel that they’ve been automatically labeled if they are over a U.S. 10, say. Some women have been offended by that. It’s a shame. They shouldn’t be offended, really, because it doesn’t matter what you’re labeled, and it doesn’t matter what size you are. There’s such a negative connotation around the word “plus-size,” because, for so long, you couldn’t get plus-size clothing in the same stores [as straight-size clothes]. You would have to go to a basement, or you could only shop online, and the clothes weren’t necessarily as trendy or young and fresh. So it’s seen as lesser, it’s seen as inferior. That’s why people get offended by the label, because they’ve been excluded from fashion.

✨ I just wanted to say hiiii πŸ‘‹ and I hope you all smash it this week😝 #iskralawrence #everyBODYisbeautiful

✨ I just wanted to say hiiii πŸ‘‹ and I hope you all smash it this week😝 #iskralawrence #everyBODYisbeautiful

I went into a store one day, and I was trying on these pink trousers that had no stretch, and they were too tight. I called over the lady, and I asked for the next size up, and she said, “That’s the largest size we have.” That’s just it. I can’t have these cute trousers I wanted. There are women that deal with that every single day. Can you imagine that? It just doesn’t feel right at all.

loved being home for the weekend seeing bae and cannot wait to go to Las Vegas momma this week for her 50th πŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™Œβœ¨ #iskralawrence #everyBODYisbeautiful dress from @intermixonline shoes @louboutinworld tongue my own πŸ˜‹

loved being home for the weekend seeing bae and cannot wait to go to Las Vegas momma this week for her 50th πŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™Œβœ¨ #iskralawrence #everyBODYisbeautiful dress from @intermixonline shoes @louboutinworld tongue my own πŸ˜‹

As much work as you and Aerie have done around spreading the message of confidence and body positivity, there’s more to be done. What signs are you seeing of progress, and what makes you think people still have a ways to go?

The day when we’ve really got to where it needs to be is when we flip through a magazine, and we are not shocked when we see a girl that’s of a different size. There’s a girl that’s a size 2 and a size 8 and a size 14, and that is how we see beautiful, aspirational images. It won’t be shocking for a larger girl to go on the runway. That’s when I feel like we’ll have made it, when it feels organic and natural. I think it’s really happening, and it’s so exciting to see it.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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Shahid Tariq

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