Why Iskra Lawrence Stopped Using the Term ‘Body Positivity’

The model and entrepreneur shared her thoughts on the buzzy concept in a recent chat with Shape.

Iskra Lawrence
Getty Images.

In 2015, model Iskra Lawrence found herself at the center of the body positivity movement. “I was like the face of body positivity, and I was ignorant to why it started,” she tells Shape over Zoom while promoting Vital Proteins collagen supplements. 

“Originally, it was started for more marginalized people than myself,” she explains. “It was started for the LGBTQIA community. It was created for the Black community. It was created for the plus-size community,” continues Lawrence. Although she didn’t fit into the straight-size category and was plus size, according to the fashion industry, Lawrence wasn’t seen as plus size to people who felt most aligned with that term, she explains. “So, for a long time, I think people put me in this body positivity category because I was very open to talking about my eating disorder and my body dysmorphia.”

This contradiction is a major part of what people get wrong about body positivity, according to the Saltair founder. “They imagine some curvy-but-still-fit white girl on the beach, being confident in her bikini,” says Lawrence. “And unfortunately, because that is still more palatable for most people and more palatable, you know, to see in campaigns, that's still at the forefront visually of what this movement means. But it means a lot more than that,” she continues. “So, for me, [body positivity is] advocating for all people. It’s loving your body for more than its size, for loving its abilities and capabilities, and just championing that across the board, not just for a certain group.”

This perspective isn’t something Lawrence learned overnight. In the early days of her career, largely thanks to social media, people brought it to the model’s attention that they were disappointed by her representing the body positivity movement. “Other people were upset to see someone who was white, able-bodied, cis, hourglass-shaped being at the forefront,” she says. But instead of ignoring the criticism, she embraced it.

“I spoke to a lot of women in [my] DMs about what should I do; how should I pivot,” says Lawrence. Now, she’s swapped body positivity for body acceptance and makes sure she advocates for people more marginalized than herself at every opportunity.

When she’s not pushing the body acceptance movement forward, advocating for real body inclusivity on runways, or demanding diverse experiences are represented before signing on for public appearances, Lawrence is busy being a mom. Since giving birth in 2020, the entrepreneur has had to find new ways to take care of herself and feel comfortable in her body, adjustments that likely sound familiar to other new mothers.

“I think for the first nine months I felt like I didn't recognize myself,” says Lawrence. “I've done so much work with affirmations and just feeling really secure in who I am and how I feel about myself and for that to just feel really dark, like unknown, that was really challenging for me,” she adds.

Thankfully, she’s had help along the way, both from her partner and “a tribe of other moms” who can relate to what she’s going through. “Maybe some don't, but generally everyone I've spoken to has a time where they're like, I don't know who the heck I am anymore.”

Self care went out the window for a while, which ultimately led to Lawrence founding her own body-care line, Saltair. “There was a period of time where I stopped showering, and I was just wearing robes and gowns around the house and I was like, I have to look after myself better,” she explains. At that point, she made daily showers a “non-negotiable” and wanted to create products to make her small moment of me-time “more exciting,” she says.

Now, she’s also getting back into a consistent workout routine with a goal of hitting her home gym three times a week, even if it’s just for 15 to 30 minutes at a time. “That has fueled me and that has made me feel great,” she says. “I was hoping it was gonna be every day, but that's also unrealistic,” she adds.

Taking care of herself also usually includes making a morning smoothie and getting in her favorite Vital Proteins product of the moment: Marine Collagen. As a self-proclaimed “flexitarian,” Lawrence enjoys getting the hair, skin, and nail benefits of collagen sourced from wild-caught cod. “I’m a big fish girl,” she jokes. (Read more: Are Collagen Supplements Worth It? Here's Everything You Need to Know)

ICYDK, Lawrence has long been a brand ambassador for the dietary supplement company, which she discovered back in 2017. “I fell in love with how easy it was to just incorporate into my lifestyle,” she says, calling the products “an easy, relatable way to bring some health benefits into my everyday diet.

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