American Eagle lingerie brand Aerie does not airbrush its models. They have seen their sales rise in recent months, and now they took another step to stand out from their competition.
While Aerie has always promoted “real women” with curvier shapes, their new ambassador is the beautiful Iskra Lawrence who has often been called a plus-size model, though she doesn’t want to be labelled as such. It’s not new to note that the term plus-size is incongruous to the size of women in society. A majority of the women walking around could actually fall into the plus-size category.
So when Iskra was dropped by a modelling agency because her hips were “too big” for her to model in ad campaigns, it disappointed her. She realized that she would have a tough time breaking into the modelling world. Instead of letting that setback hold her back, she has struggled on with her career and can now boast of being the brand ambassador for Aerie, an extension of international clothing powerhouse American Eagle.
She got quite emotional in an interview speaking about Aerie. She is fronting their ad campaign unretouched, just as she is. And that touched her that a company would accept her just as she is. She had always been told that she was not good enough, so this coup meant so much to her.
Iskra appeared in a video and photo series of the #AerieREAL campaign. All the models and stars have posed without any photo editing. You can see the model’s freckles, cellulite on her thighs, and just the smallest hint of a stomach roll. But the blonde is happy with the results.
She explains, “You don’t need to be retouched ’cause the real you is beautiful. And I’m so happy to be part of AerieREAL and take this to another level this year. We’re gonna challenge everything, we’re gonna challenge the thoughts that you aren’t good enough, because you really are.”
Iskra has posted raw or unfiltered photos on Instagram before. She feels that she should not be body-shamed for what other people consider imperfections. She wrote on her Instagram account at that time, “I haven’t airbrushed my tiger stripe stretch marks or my cellulite lightening bolts or my back fat—because this is my body.”
She loves her body. It’s real. And she loves to post pictures that show how confident she is. Society has spent decades pointing out flaws in women’s bodies, but now the message is of empowerment. Take what you have and flaunt it. A woman is so much more than what her body looks like. You can be your own kind of beautiful.
Two years ago, Aerie decided to stop retouching and airbrushing their ad campaigns. They wanted to focus on real beauty, natural beauty. Iskra likes working with Aerie because the brand is inspirational for women. It’s empowering to have someone or a company stand up and say, women are beautiful as they are. Aerie makes women feel good. They do not play on a woman’s insecurities to sell their products, but rather, they promote the good features of the average woman’s body.
Models make their money on their appearance, so it is a rare and refreshing change to hear a model like Iskra say a woman is more than her physical features. In the Aerie campaign, you will see her modeling several styles of swimwear. Some are bikinis and one is a cutout monokini.
Iskra says that her struggle to break into the modeling industry made her decide to speak out regarding body image and standards of beauty. As an 18-year-old, she had to decide whether she would change her body to fit the sample size or would she try to change the industry.
She launched RunwayRiot, her own Web site that features unedited photos. Her goal is to celebrate curvy women who she believes should have as much style choices as straight-size women. Her current agency has helped her realize that she can be a successful model even at her current size. She says that’s when she focused on becoming the best version of herself by working harder, working out to feel strong and healthy, and focus on her nutrition.
She claims she hasn’t dieted for six years and finds that she is happier when she doesn’t have to be fixated on counting calories. She focused on making healthy food choices, and she does allow herself to splurge and let loose. While she loves to drink green juices, she will allow herself to eat pizza. “It’s about moderation,” she says.
In one of her behind-the-scenes of the Instagram clips of the Aerie shoot, she showed that she is not obsessed with having the “perfect” bikini body. She showed herself taking a bite out of a chocolate brownie, something that you won’t see many of the haute couture models doing. She allows herself to indulge in a treat because she is able to work off those extra calories because she exercises three to four times a week.
As fans of Iskra’s curvy frame and amazing body, we can say keep doing those exercises to maintain your beautiful body. All models could learn a thing or two from the positive message that Iskra promotes. It doesn’t matter if you are a plus-size model or a straight-size model, you need to keep in mind that you are more than your body.