The model and self-care advocate
Model and self-care advocate Iskra Lawrence, 26, lives in New York. A true champion of body diversity, Iskra is a trailblazer who isn’t afraid to shout about the importance of being body confident whether that’s on the New York subway or as one of the BBC’s top 100 Women…
“When I started modelling, I was told I was too 'big' to be a 'normal' model, and then too small to be a 'plus-sized' model. These set-backs made me question myself and my body. I overcame these barriers by starting to accept the body I have and love it for what it does for me. I became me, rather than what other people wanted me to be.
“I believe #EveryBODYisBeautiful! I’m a champion of body diversity and have long been committed to improving the image of women in the media, and I have been honoured to have some of my unretouched images included in global modelling campaigns. This issue is close to my heart and I want girls and young women across the world to feel comfortable with who they are. One of the best things about my job now is meeting people who say my work has helped them feel more confident and happy.
“Many of my actions and beliefs can be attributed to what I learnt as a Girl Guide. I learnt how to work in a team, how to work towards objectives and how to lead. I was a Rainbow and then a Brownie. I think I was the oldest and tallest Brownie because I stayed with my pack as long as I could. I had a sash full of achievement badges and loved every minute of Guiding.
“As a recognised international model and self-care advocate, I want to continue to share the values I learnt when Guiding with everyone I meet. As a Rainbow, I remember giving a speech in a packed church at a very young age – it was the first time I’d ever spoken publicly. Now, I do a lot of public speaking at universities across the USA, speaking with students about body positivism. Just recently, I gave a TED talk to 1,500 people in Reno, Nevada.
“Growing up as a young woman today is definitely different, especially with the added pressure of social media, but my advice to girls would be: count your blessings, be grateful to friends and family, grab the opportunities Guiding gives you to grow and make great friends. Part of our pledge was 'be kind and helpful' simple but I still believe, and practice it today!
“It’s also important to look up to other women and draw inspiration from your role models. Like any loving daughter, I've gotta say my 'momma' is my true role model. She taught me to work hard and believe in myself, she also supported my time at Rainbows and Brownies taking me to all the events even on the dark winter nights. I admire women like Michelle Obama and the Williams sisters, but I also admire those people who choose community over celebrity. I will never forget what volunteers like Brown Owl taught me all those years ago and the confidence they gave me to know I could realise my dreams.
“The community centre where we met for Brownies is a long way from Manhattan but the fun I had there and the skills I learnt are still with me today.”
Photo: Max Montgomery
"Grab the opportunities Guiding gives you and make great friends. Part of our pledge was 'be kind and helpful', which I still practice today!"