Iskra Lawrence is a model on a mission. The 25-year-old Brit is the face of Aerie, a U.S. lingerie brand that doesn’t retouch its images, proudly stating on its social platforms, “Why retouch beauty? The real you is sexy.” We caught up with Lawrence to find out how she is helping young girls feel more confident in their own skin, why she wants the fashion industry to drop the plus-size label once and for all and the challenge she wants you to try to feel more confident today.
Keep scrolling to read our exclusive interview with the model everyone’s talking about.
BYRDIE UK: You used to be a swimmer. Do you think that helped you have a positive relationship with both food and fitness?
ISKRA LAWRENCE: Swimming taught me so much—appreciating my body for more than just its appearance and allowing me to achieve my goals. That food is your fuel, and if you’re not nourished properly, your body won’t perform as well as it could. Also, it taught me self-motivation, dedication and that you get out what you put in.
BYRDIE UK: What exercise do you do now that you’re not swimming so much?
IL: I love exercise. I treat it as a reward to myself because of how good my body and mind feel after training. I like to keep things interesting by trying new classes or new routines. I’ve had a go at most things; I especially like boxing, yoga, Pilates, weights and HIIT. I take my skipping rope everywhere and aim to train three times a week. Even if I don’t make it to a gym due to travelling and working long hours, I’ll do abs on the floor in my hotel room!
BYRDIE UK: When and why did you decide not to change your body for modelling? Were you at all worried you might not have a career if you didn’t conform?
IL: It took me quite a few years to realise I didn’t have to change myself to look like the models I aspired to be. It was after years of trying to slim down that I heard about plus-size modelling, and then I went to an agency to only be told I was actually then too small to fit into the UK 16 samples! It was this final nail in the coffin that clarified you can’t keep battling with your body and trying to change yourself. Why can’t I model at my healthy size a UK 12 top and 14 bottom? Surely as I’m the average UK size, there are millions of women not represented by models in the media. So it was time to stop battling myself and start bettering myself instead. As soon as I switched to that positive mind-set, everything started falling into place.
BYRDIE UK: When did you decide you wanted to expose your true self on social media?
IL: After all the years of rejection and body scrutiny I received, all I wanted was to feel good enough as me. I was done with editing myself, my body and my opinions, and I wanted to be the model I wished I had been able to look up to growing up. I would read the encouraging comments and DMs when I would put up an unretouched image and see how young girls craved a relatable, real role model. It just felt right.
I tried Facetune and editing apps a couple of years ago, and I felt embarrassed and unauthentic looking at the retouched image of myself. All I really wanted was to feel beautiful because I was me, and I no longer had to change myself to fit a beauty ideal set by the fashion industry. That’s why I’m so proud to work with Aerie, because they promote loving yourself from the inside out and are the first major lingerie and swim brand to not retouch its models at all.