A healthy meal plan collaboration between body-positive model Iskra Lawrence and SELF magazine drew criticism from Lawrence’s fans, who said the low-calorie diet was “triggering” to eating disorder survivors.
SELF and Lawrence put together a New Year’s Challenge with workouts and recipes, including a sample one-week meal plan. But after it debuted online Jan. 1, readers said the meal plan, which adds up to about 1,500 calories a day, “promoted starvation.” Lawrence, who speaks openly about her own recovery from an eating disorder, said she didn’t expect the meal plan to so minimal when she signed on.
“My involvement with the Challenge from the beginning was the fitness aspect — I wanted to share some of my favourite workout moves with you all that aren’t for weight loss, but to feel healthy, strong and to look after our bodies,” she wrote on Instagram. “I knew that there would be recipes involved but did not know that they would be put together in the form of a meal plan or be so restrictive / low cal.”
By Tuesday, SELF had removed the meal plan from the challenge, and posted an apology on their site.
“In partnering with a body positivity advocate who is a role model to many people who have struggled with and are in recovery from disordered eating, we should have been much more sensitive to this issue,” SELF editor-in-chief Carolyn Kylstra writes. “It’s clear that this type of information could be triggering. That wasn’t at all our intention, it’s on us, and we’re sorry.”
Lawrence added that she reached out to Kylstra after hearing the criticism from her fans.
“After seeing many of your comments and DMs, I spoke with SELF’s editor-in-chief, Carolyn Kylstra. We had a meaningful conversation about the Challenge, after which she made the decision to remove the meal plan,” Lawrence says. “I don’t believe in diets, haven’t controlled my food since recovery, and would never mean to advocate for them.”
Lawrence originally shared information about the challenge on her Instagram page the day it debuted.
“Tomorrow is the start of my Jan challenge with @selfmagazine,” she writes, along with a photo of herself biting into a large chocolate bar in front of an open refrigerator. “We spent time thinking of a way to create a healthy challenge that you can learn from and it’s about you feeling good about yourself because health is so much more than just a size or weight.”
“If you’re feeling the pressure to do the whole new year new you diets, think about what reason you’re doing it. It’s gotta be for you … I will never feel guilty for eating chocolate or pizza but I also want to keep finding new ways to challenge my body and mind. Eating what I want in moderation but also nourishing myself and trying new exercises to improve my fitness, strength & even for stress relief.”
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Lawrence added in her apology that she gained valuable knowledge from the experience.
“I know nothing I can say will undo the damage that was triggered, but I’m thankful to have you all to learn from.”