'I never realized the impact it had on me': Why Iskra Lawrence won't let her photos be digitally altered

Iskra Lawrence. Image via Women's Health. Photo by Tory Rust.

When it comes to body positivity, Iskra Lawrence is a model who can not only walk the walk, but talk the talk.

In a new interview with Women’s Health, the 28-year-old swimsuit model and body acceptance advocate opens up about her commitment to ditching digital retouching in favour of showing off her body’s “imperfections.”

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From stretch marks to cellulite (or as she calls it, celluLIT), the Aerie Role Model shares how one photoshoot early on in her career drastically changed how she viewed the modelling industry.

Image via Women's Health. Photo by Tory Rust.

“They gave me a thigh gap, slimmed my forearms, smoothed my skin, and removed all my moles,” Lawrence said of the finished product which rendered her virtually unrecognizable to her own family. “A team of people decided these things made me more beautiful but these were things I couldn’t achieve. I never realized the impact it had on me, but then I thought about the impact it had on everyone consuming these images. It can be so damaging for your mental health and body image.”

ALSO SEE: Why Aerie wants you to show off your unretouched beach body this summer

With more than 4.5 million followers on Instagram, the L’Oréal ambassador requests no retouching be done on any of her photos: professional or personal. Lawrence purposely goes out of her way to share only unedited photos to her social media accounts to combat the onslaught of manipulated images that are being shared not just by industry professionals and brands, but by the everyday man or woman, thanks to apps like FaceTune or Perfect365.

Image via Women's Health. Photo by Tory Rust.

There’s a myth in the body positive world that self-confidence and self-acceptance is a static feeling. Despite being a trail blazer, Lawrence is open and candid about the work it takes to maintain body confidence, and admits there are days when she can be self-critical.

ALSO SEE: Woman who suffers from condition that causes saggy skin has become a body positive Instagram star

“Tomorrow I’m doing a meet and greet with my boyfriend, and I’m thinking about wearing these short shorts,” she told the magazine. “I’m trying to figure out why I feel uncomfortable about it. I love my legs. I love that they’re big and thick. I know they’re not perfect, and they are vein-y and have lumps, but I wonder what it is.”

Image via Women's Health. Photo by Tory Rust.

To combat the creeping feelings of insecurity, Lawrence recommends writing gratitude lists, stop comparing yourself to others and practicing what she calls “mirror work.” When standing in front of the mirror, she pays herself a compliment on the part or area of her body that is troubling her.

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“It’s something you have to do daily until you get to a strong, confident place,” Lawrence said. “And it’s something that you have to revisit when you’re questioning yourself, like my moment with the shorts.”

She continued, “My boyfriend was watching me in the shorts, and he was loving what he saw. So I thought about how amazing is it that I have a wonderful boyfriend who loves and appreciates me for who I am.”

We appreciate you too, Iskra!

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