British model Iskra Lawrence (you might know her as the face of #AerieReal) just gave the TED talk we've all been waiting for. She spoke at the University of Nevada's TEDx event in January about body image and self-care, and it's everything you've ever needed to hear about loving yourself.
Iskra is no stranger to speaking out about body positivity. She already opened up to us about why everyone needs to stop calling her plus-size, partnered with StyleLikeU for a raw, real "What's Underneath" video, and stripped down to her skivvies in the NYC subway in name of the cause.
She starts out her TEDx talk on the topic with a simple but often overlooked point: "The most important relationship we have in our lives is the relationship we have with ourselves, and we're not taught about it."
Of all the things we learn in school or from our parents, self-care is a forgotten part of the life curriculum; perhaps it's because social media, which Iskra calls a "weapon of mass destruction to our self-esteem," is such a new-yet-powerful influence on our mental and emotional health. Whether you're looking at an influencer's carefully curated Instagram or the photos advertising your favorite activewear, Iskra emphasizes that it's important to realize that it's not real—she admits that photos of her have been retouched so heavily that her family didn't even recognize her. "I can't even look like that, and it's me," she says. "That's wrong."
But that doesn't mean body image wasn't at play pre-Instagram: "I know, when I was younger, I would look in the mirror every single day and hate what I saw," says Iskra. "'Why don't I have a thigh gap? Why does it look like this thigh ate the other one?'"
She goes on to describe her own journey of self-love, as well as what she's trying to do to spread the self-love movement—like partnering with the National Eating Disorders Association for a high school counseling program called The Body Project, which has been proven to reduce body dissatisfaction, negative mood, thin-ideal internalization, unhealthy dieting, and disordered eating among both the teenage participants and adult facilitators.
Iskra might be the face of body positivity, but it doesn't mean she's immune to bad days. She shares two confidence-boosting tricks that help her reset and remember why she loves her body exactly the way it is: a mirror challenge and a gratitude list.
The mirror challenge is as simple as standing in front of a mirror and picking out 1) five things that you love about yourself, and 2) five things you love about what your body does for you.
The gratitude list is something Iskra recently used herself in a clothing store dressing room (which she insists is a place where "your inner demons are there waiting to pounce on you"). Keep a list of things you're grateful for—whether it's in your head, on your iPhone, or in a notebook—to help bring you back to the big picture and dissolve any negative thoughts you're having about your body or otherwise.
Watch her full TEDx Talk to get thefull scoop on her personal experience and the two tricks that get her through even the toughest body-image crises. (And then try these other ways to practice self-care.)