Mall of America hosted the NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association) Walk on Sunday, March 4th. Iskra Lawrence proudly walked alongside over 1,000 attendees. Iskra is a body positive activist, AerieReal Role Model + the NEDA brand ambassador. I was able to ask her a few questions about her role in spreading self-love, the fashion industry and her ideas on beauty.
Q: How did you learn to love yourself and your body, especially given the scrutiny of the industry?
Thank you, that makes me so happy to hear! My journey to learning to love myself, like many peoples, was really hard and took a lot of work. After years of being told that I was too big or too small for the modeling industry, I struggled with accepting my body for what it was. It wasn’t until I decided for myself that enough was enough that I really started to forge my own path in the industry and decided that my body, and who I was as a person, was more than enough.
From there, I dedicated a lot of my time to learning to love myself, accepting that perfection does not exist and comparing myself to others is only damaging. The best way to learn to love yourself is through practicing self-care. I worked on identifying ways that I could change my life that would make me feel great about myself and eliminating things that I knew didn’t make me feel like my best self. I invested time into healing my relationships with food, exercise, my body and mind.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish as the ambassador for NEDA?
As the ambassador for NEDA I hope that I can use my experiences and all that I have learned over the years to help as many people as possible. It can be so lonely when you are struggling with your physical and mental health. I hope that by being visible in the public eye and honestly sharing my experiences I can help remove the stigma around EDs and just like NEDA encourage everyone to know they are enough.
Q: How do you define beauty?
Beauty is so hard to define because there is not one definition it means something different to all of us. So I think beauty is truly found in all of our differences and diversity. Seeing people being true to themselves and confidently living in the skin they’re in is the most beautiful thing to me!
Q: What are your hopes for the fashion industry in the next few years?
I have such high hopes for the fashion industry over the next few years. I work with amazing brands, like Aerie, that truly care about improving the image of men and women in the media and making sure their consumers feel seen.
Aerie, like myself, is committed to airbrush-free campaigns. I hope in the future more brands can realize the strength in celebrating real and follow in their footsteps. I hope more designers see the market changing and that people want accessible and high end fashion for all every body.
Q: What message do you have for anyone struggling with body-image issues and how do you practice #selflove?
My message to anyone who is struggling with body-image is to first and foremost take the time to practice self-care. Like anything else, it takes work, but it will be so worth it. A few things you can start with, is to stop comparing yourself to others, or images, especially with the prevalence of social media today. Start adjusting the way you think about yourself and your body. Instead of picking out your insecurities, start to notice all the things you love about yourself. This shouldn’t just be how you look, but what your body does for you, your accomplishments, personality traits, and all the other things that make you 100% unique.
Another tool to use is your gratitude list. Start to think about everything you do have, instead of what you don’t. My gratitude list includes my amazing family and friends for the love they bring into my life, my health for allowing me to live my life and accomplish all of my dreams, my empathy for allowing me to connect with people and share in their journeys, that jar of Nutella in my kitchen and so on. Celebrate all that you have to offer and everything that you already are!