iskra ‘I Was My Toughest Enemy, But I’m Over It’
The model is back on our radar with a huge new high street campaign. We sat down with the most positive woman we’ve ever met…
‘I’m a little bit tired,’ Iskra Lawrence admits when we meet. She’s just flown in from New York, and her delayed flight meant she had to go straight to her Simply Be campaign shoot – but it’s no sweat for a pro like 26-year-old Iskra.
Instagram legend and champion of the curve movement, she’s a body confidence campaigner and a role model for girls everywhere. As well as being Simply Be’s latest lady alongside American blogger Gabi Fresh, she’s currently travelling around schools trying to promote a healthy body image ‘because I didn’t have that growing up and it’s so important’. See why we love her?
Hi Iskra, congrats on your appearance at New York Fashion Week! How was it to walk there for the first time? There were transgender women there and women of different races, heights and sizes, and I’m just looking at them all and thinking, ‘I don’t need to look like anybody else, they all look so beautiful because they’re different and that’s what’s nice.’ We’re all beautiful in our own way, and that’s what I loved about the show so much. I think there are so many more brands doing things like that in New York. I’m excited. Hopefully London will catch up. You and Gabi are the new faces of Simply Be. Can you tell us how that came about? I’ve been modelling in the Simply Be catalogues and I think they just saw how much I love the brand. I really believe in it – the fact that, yes, you can dress trendy, you can dress cool, you can dress feminine. There are all these different styles that you can find that don’t make you feel like you’re segregated – you’re part of fashion and it doesn’t matter what size you are. How do you feel about the term ‘plus-sized’? I think it’s such an individual thing.
Some people love the fact that they have a label they feel they can put their stamp on and own. I love that I’m seeing more women of diverse size and, if that’s what pushes it forward, then let’s do it. It’s all about trying to make it more inclusive and making fashion accessible for every woman. How do you both feel about modelling in general? NYFW was blasted for using models deemed too thin… I think modelling is a wonderful way to express yourself. It’s sad any size gets shamed. A certain size doesn’t mean health. I am so grateful, even though I thought initially that my relationship with the fashion industry was negative in the sense that it pushed me to want to lose weight, it actually meant I was able to really find myself, build myself from the ground up and realise that I was so much more than an appearance or an image. How did you build up your self- esteem? It took a very long time, from when I was 15 to nearly 20. As a teenager your body is changing so you’re just figuring out who you are. When I figured out that I could be more than [just an image] and brand myself and become a strong, confident woman – that’s why I made it. It had nothing to do with size or shape. Why do you think the media and society in general are still so obsessed with women’s bodies? There’s been the illusion that you have to have the perfect body, which for so long has been presented as tall, slim and white. It’s about re-educating all those people, and luckily we’ve had the chance to use our voices to do that and say: ‘No, the goals, the aspirations should be just embracing and being happy with what you have, and understanding that you can’t be perfect because perfect doesn’t exist.’ Changing that conversation – and that’s what’s happening – is so important, and it’s great to be a part of it. Speaking of body shaming, have you experienced a lot of it? Yeah. I got over my own demons and I’ve battled myself in the mirror, so really, I’m my toughest enemy and I’ve managed to get over that. Do you find that it’s mainly women, or men, or a mix? For me, it’s mainly men. I can’t remember the last time I got a negative comment from a woman. Men, when they look on social media, they get stuck on the image and they don’t understand or don’t read the captions. They think I’m posing in a bikini for them, to get their attention. Whose style inspires you? Solange [Knowles]! But I look for inspiration from my friends, the people around me. In New York, there are so many people I’ll stop and ask: ‘Where’s that from?’ It’s so nice on social media to see girls with similar shapes. You are a role model to so many girls now. Do you see yourself as one? Yeah, the feedback is incredible, it’s what keeps you going. I got my bedside table specially designed to keep all my letters in there. If you’re having a down day or anything, you can go in there and read it and it’s all OK, it’s what I’m meant to be doing, I’m so grateful. I don’t want to see Photoshopped images of myself any more, I don’t want to change – I just want to be me and I want to feel beautiful doing that. I want to be able to model being healthy, and that’s the number one thing.
I don’t want to change – I just want to be me
cardigan, T-shirt, Jeans, Boots, all Simply Be
Iskra slays in a bikini, and no haters in sight
Gabi Fresh, Iskra’s Simply Be buddy Jacket, £45 Body, £36 both Simply Be