British model Iskra Lawrence is waging war on unattainable beauty standards in the fashion world by refusing to allow clients to Photoshop her images.
The 26-year-old plus-size beauty is one of a number of body activists encouraging more diversity in the industry – and encouraging a move away from just slim, blemish-free women.
“The whole concept of Photoshop is an illusion,” Iskra told AFP.
“They’re not flaws. They’re part of your body.
“We were just convinced by society and the media that there was something wrong with them.”
In Britain, around 57 percent of women have an above average body mass index.
For years, size 14 Iskra was told by agencies that she was too fat to model.
A sample size on the runway can be as small as zero.
Iskra has defied expectations by signing up with JAG Models, an agency set up in 2013 to represent larger models, walked in New York Fashion Week, had an unretouched billboard in Times Square and worked with brands such as American Eagle Outfitters.
Six years ago, she says a London booker laughed in her face and told her she’d never get to New York to work.
“That hurt,” she said. “Seeing those images raw and real really helps people understand they don’t need to be perfect and they’re good enough as they are.”
But Iskra isn’t the only curvy beauty hitting headlines.
Last year, Ashley Graham became the first ‘curve’ model on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s annual Swimsuit Issue.
In February, she became the first curve model to walk for Michael Kors at Fashion Week.
This season, she hosted a fashion awards night and Sunday night walked again for Prabal Gurung in a show with Gigi Hadid.
Outside of the fashion world, the likes of Adele, Beyonce, Serena Williams and Amy Schumer are being praised for their strong, curvaceous figures.
Meanwhile, following repeated scandals about anorexia, French holding companies LVMH and Kering, which own dozens of top labels from Christian Dior to Saint Laurent, has pledged to ban size zero models from their advertising and catwalk shows.
Iskra has taken her body positive message to schools in Britain and US colleges to promote good physical, emotional and mental health.
“Every day on social media, I get these DMs from girls saying I’ve saved their lives from eating disorders or suicidal thoughts. It’s a wonderful, positive movement,” she said.
But the fashion industry – particularly high-end, prestigious labels – still has a long way to go.
“A lot of people don’t want a ‘fat girl’ in the show,” says Jaclyn Sarka, who co-founded JAG Models in 2013, recognizing a need to represent beautiful women of all sizes.
They now represent around 65 girls, the largest of whom is a size 20.
“That’s just horrible. I’m having a daughter pretty soon and… I don’t want my daughter to look up to people who aren’t attainable.” (Sun)