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…

Look (UK) - - LIFE - WORDS: Han­nah Banks-walker

‘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

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