Model ‘laughed at’ over body gets last laugh by becoming curvy star with 5m fansMarch 16, 2023
A model who was laughed at by agents has had the last laugh.
Iskra Lawrence, from Kidderminster in the UK, was deemed 'too big' for 'standard' clothing and 'too thin' to represent plus size fashion.
As a result, some wrongly thought she wouldn't make it as a model.
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Despite the hate, the 32-year-old was one of the first curvy models to breakthrough in the industry.
She landed a deal with Aerie that lasted for seven years – and this was a defining moment in the body positivity movement.
Iskra's career has gone from strength to strength – and she's racked up five million Instagram followers by flaunting her natural body in all its glory.
Iskra decided to pave her own way to prove that she has a space in the modelling industry, regardless of her size.
"When I applied to be a model, they told me I was too big to be a straight size model and too small to be a plus size model," she exclusively told Daily Star.
"Now, at any size you can apply to an agency and they'll overlook your book, how you photograph and whether they think you're the right for their agency and the brands they usually work with.
"Size really isn't a determiner anymore which is amazing and such a relief.
"I don't think the gatekeepers knew the damage it was doing until we had social media and we were able to speak up and say 'this is really damaging to our body image and mental health' from seeing one type of model.
"So I think actually all of us being so vocal, I made the change happen."
It all changed for Iskra once she started to grow her social media following.
From here, she knew she wasn't the only one who wanted to see a more diverse modelling industry.
After years of glossy magazines featuring heavily airbrushed women and catwalks flaunting extremely slender models, enough was enough.
"Of course I was in the industry and trying to do what I could," Iskra said.
"But it wasn't until I had the millions of followers to back me up and say yes 'this is what we want to see, we don't want to see super retouched pictures – we want to see diverse and inclusive models'.
"We all had to make that change."
Before change came, Iskra battled the brutal reality of the modelling industry.
Her ability to model was questioned entirely on the basis of her size – and not how well she could pose in front of camera.
She considered moving to New York to pursue her career – but was mocked despite working since she was 13.
"I got called for the first 10 years that I'd never make it," she candidly shared.
"I got agents who had signed me – so they thought I could obviously make them money because that's the main reason why you get signed – laugh at me.
"[They] laughed at me when I said I wanted to go to New York.
"They were like 'what are you going to do in New York, you're not plus size enough and there's no market for you'.
"Obviously I would never email those people and go 'look at me now'.
"But, it's just – wow – I'm so glad I didn't listen to all those people and instead followed my gut."
Iskra, who is now based in Texas in the US, has already achieved a lot for someone in their early thirties.
She is currently signed with three modelling agencies – FORD LA, Models 1 UK and WME – all while juggling her job as CEO of skincare brand SaltAir and Self Funding Planner.
On top of that, Iskra is a parent to her two-year-old son with her husband Phillip Payne.
The pair have a podcast together, which the savvy businesswoman runs alongside her high profile Instagram page.
"At the end of the day – when you think about what modelling is – you are wearing or promoting a product and you're doing that so a consumer buys it," she explained.
"I am the consumer as well as obliviously the model.
"So why wouldn't I want to see myself in these images and promoting those products.
"I saw it from this different perspective and I feel like it was more modelling for myself, my peers and people like me.
"I was trying to be relatable rather than trying to be this perfect, exclusive and elitist group of model.
"For many many years they were heralded as this perfect humans.
"It was like 'we want you to buy into the brand because you don't feel good enough', and 'we'll give you the products and do what these models do and be successful and popular'.
"For me, that realisation that there was another way to do it was really empowering.
"For a very long time it felt like there was gatekeepers – usually agents, casting directors, brands – who book you."
She continued: "And if you don't get booked, then you can't model – you can't do it."
"Actually it turns out that if you build a community, and they want to see you and what you represent.
"Models are kind of a commodity in a way and I essentially built up leverage by having a following and a really dedicated community who knew I was.
"Going in thinking I wanted to be an inspirational model rather than an aspirational model, and being relatable instead of being unattainable just helped bring me my audience, the social media and the brands closer to who they were trying to market to.
"Then that changed the whole thing."
You can follow Iskra on Instagram here.
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