Model and body-positive activist Iskra Lawrence shares her journey in loving herself on social media, often sharing viral Instagram posts debunking those before-and-after myths and actively working with Aerie to promote diversity and celebrate women through the #AerieREAL Role Model Campaign. Since following Iskra, I've learned quite a bit about how to treat my body, how to understand what I need to be healthy and happy, and how to shut out negative thoughts.
I often peruse Iskra's Instagram account for an instant confidence boost through her inspiring body-positivity posts and self-care hacks and to check out what cool new workouts she might be into at the moment. As I worked to become more positive and accepting of my body and its needs, here are the five most useful and important things I've learned from the curve model.
Being a Gym Rat Isn't Necessary
I used to spend hours at the gym. Not just one or two hours after work, but entire afternoons or weekends dedicated to logging in the man-hours I thought I needed to prove to myself I was being "healthy." If I was getting in a yoga class, Pilates, or Zumba and then managing an hour of cardio, I felt good about myself. But I was also missing out on other experiences due to being obsessed with the gym, not to mention putting stress and strain on my body. This outlook changed completely when I heard that Iskra enjoys sneaking short, hardcore workouts into her busy schedule. In sharing her three favourite HIIT workouts, she explained that you can build up quite a sweat (that will leave you feeling energized) without giving up too much of your busy day.
I Don't Need to Be "in Shape" to Get in Shape
Going to the gym or hitting the road for a run can be pretty intimidating. I used to complicate my health and workout routine even more by blaming my body for not looking "good enough" in tights or a tank top. When shopping for new workout clothes, I often felt as if I needed to be fit and toned in order to wear them in public. In a YouTube video uploaded to her channel, Iskra encourages her fans to stop making excuses for things they thought their bodies were not "attractive enough" to do. Regardless of what my body looks like now, I know I can wear any cute outfit I want to yoga class without feeling like I need to look a certain way to wear it.
Don't Believe Everything You See on Instagram
If you love following fitness accounts on Instagram, you might know that they're sort of a double-edged sword. Seeing fitness videos and those popular #progress photos can serve as friendly reminders to hit the gym or even motivate you to start the day on a healthy foot, but they can also bring on major stress. It's easy to start comparing your own health or fitness journey to those who seem to be changing their bodies easily. With the help of Facetune and a little strategic posing, the people I follow can easily create photos that reflect inaccurate results. And yes, this is hard for even the most confident person. "For a lot of people, [before-and-after photos] are a really motivating indicator for how far you've come," Iskra explained to POPSUGAR. "But unfortunately, a lot of people try to validate how serious something was or how successful something was by a more dramatic before-and-after." I've learned to focus on the posts and photos that motivate me without making me feel ashamed for not "working harder" toward my ideal body shape.
Hype Up Your Body
She may be one of the world's most recognisable models, but Iskra has experienced her own share of self-body shaming. In a love letter written to herself, the model apologises for saying negative things to her own body in the past. We are usually our toughest critics, and our bodies can't thrive if we're constantly focussed on blaming and shaming our bodies. I always thought that it sounded cheesy, but the saying is true: if you wouldn't say it to your best friend, don't say it to yourself. I've noticed that I feel my most fatigued and exhausted when I've been picking at my flaws, which doesn't leave me with much energy for being active and experiencing life as I should be. I decided to stop mentally draining my mind by saying negative things about my body and instead focus on the things I love and appreciate about it.
Meditation Can Be Energizing
Giving your mind and body a break could make your day more productive. Iskra has been very outspoken about the importance of self-care, and meditation is one of her favourite ways to reset throughout the day. "I feel like I'm nourishing my soul," she told POPSUGAR. "The busier I am, the more needed that five minutes is, and it actually slows your whole day down." Through meditating myself (I love trying out different meditation apps while I commute), I've learned that I don't need to feel guilty about giving myself a few moments of clarity.