"I’m just happy to be alive and grateful for this body I call my home."

Health.com
January 19, 2018

Growing up in a society that values thinness as the ideal standard of beauty is challenging for young girls. Model and body positivity advocate Iskra Lawrence is all too familiar with this, and she's on a mission to change the way women think and feel about their bodies.

The 27-year-old model has become well-known for using her social media platform—she has 3.9 million followers on Instagram alone—to share messages of body positivity and slam unrealistic beauty standards for women. In a recent post, Lawrence shared a powerful before-and-after to talk about her experience recovering from disordered eating and how she finally found peace by embracing self-love.

Both of these images are of me. The left is about 10years ago. And the right just under a month ago. I remember being proud of how skinny I looked during this shoot. And how now people call me fat when I’m just happy to be alive and grateful for this body I call my home. I used to seek approval from the fashion industry and tried to be “perfect”. I thought if I looked like “her” (an unrealistic beauty ideal), I’d be happy, successful and loved. All I found was failure (because you can’t change who you are) emptiness (because my time and energy was being used up trying to achieve something completely self absorbed and shallow sacrificing doing things I loved) and unhappiness (because no restrictive diet or abusive exercise feels good) I share my experiences with you all because if you are feeling like I did there is another way and those recovering from EDs you’re not alone. The best thing I ever did was focus on looking after myself and being the best me I could be. Seeing value in who I was. The impact I could have in the world and people around me. Trying to give, instead of focusing on myself, my image and needing approval from others. And accepting that I am meant to be here just like you, and we were all created to be imperfectly perfect. I started Investing time into self-care, doing things that made me happy. Listening to my body and mind and nourishing them both, without guilt. That is 10years all squished into a lil insta caption but it did take time but it was soooo damn worth it. Because of what I went through My dream has always been to get self-care (mental, emotional and physical wellness) education into schools. And I’ve started that, but I also wanted to create something for adults that still needed a safe space that’s judgement free to go on a positive journey of self love and that’s why I created @everyBODYwithiskra I don’t have all the answers and I’m not ever trying to change anyone or tell people to do this and that etc. But I felt the need to create this as I wish I could have had this when I was struggling and if I’m able to use that to help even one person even better. If you’re triggered by this post please contact @neda ❤️

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By trying to look like the thin models she saw represented in magazines and on TV, Lawrence says all she found was "failure, emptiness and unhappiness" because she was trying to change who she was and living a restrictive, unhealthy lifestyle.

"I remember being proud of how skinny I looked during this shoot," Lawrence writes in the caption of the post. "And how now people call me fat when I’m just happy to be alive and grateful for this body I call my home. I used to seek approval from the fashion industry and tried to be 'perfect.'"

Lawrence credits her current happiness with her decision to focus on looking after herself by embracing self-care and nourishing her body and mind "without guilt."

"Because of what I went through [m]y dream has always been to get self-care (mental, emotional and physical wellness) education into schools," she writes. "And I’ve started that, but I also wanted to create something for adults that still needed a safe space that’s judgment free to go on a positive journey of self love and that’s why I created everyBODY with Iskra."

This new website is Lawrence's response to the many other lifestyle guides out there that tend to be geared towards losing weight. Instead, the body positive advocate wanted to create a safe, welcoming space that wouldn't be triggering for girls and women who have struggled with eating disorders.

The website includes healthy recipes (created with help from nutritionists) that avoid any mention of calories, as well as exercise tips (including workouts Lawrence herself enjoys, such as boxing, yoga, and HIIT) that emphasize getting strong and feeling good over slimming down.

"I don’t have all the answers and I’m not ever trying to change anyone or tell people to do this and that," Lawrence writes about her decision to launch the platform. "But I felt the need to create this as I wish I could have had this when I was struggling and if I’m able to use that to help even one person even better."