These days, model Iskra Lawrence is a shining example of body positivity — but it took self-doubt and frustration to get there.
When she started to develop curves as a teen, Lawrence had modeling agencies telling her to lose weight.
“I was so confused about why my body was curvy,” Lawrence, 26, tells SELF for their Jan/Feb cover. “That’s when I became obsessed with weight. My hips were 36 ½ inches when they were ‘meant’ to be 34.”
Hearing that she was too big to model set off years of disordered eating.
“[At one point] all I ate was ham for two weeks,” Lawrence says. “I lost 2 inches around my waist, exercising like crazy. I would fall asleep in school. I felt agitated.”
Lawrence started sharing her story on social media, in interviews, and with middle school students as part of her group, Iskra’s Army, and found that it spoke to many of the women she grew up with as a child.
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“Since I’ve come out about my struggles, it’s amazing how many girls from my past have said, ‘Do you realize I felt the same as you, Iskra?’ ” Lawrence says. “How crazy that we all did and yet none of us talked to each other about it?”
Lawrence, who now proudly models with no retouching for Aerie, was finally able to move past her body struggles in the last few years.
“I never thought I would be here,” she says. “I’m happy with myself. I respect myself. And I know that no man, no jeans, no scale and no booker is in control of my future — I am.”