Iskra Lawrence is a 27-year-old body positive model and activist on a mission to change the world.
You may recognize Lawrence from her many lingerie campaigns with Aerie, American Eagle Outfitter’s intimate apparel brand, or from social media, where she has amassed a following of millions preaching about self-love and body acceptance.
Once you notice Lawrence, her fresh face and positive outlook make her hard to forget. But it hasn't always been that way for the English model, who told "GMA" how she developed severe body and mental health issues after hearing she was too curvy or too big from industry insiders to be a professional model.
"I remember seeing [photos] and being like, 'Why do I have a big stomach?'" she recalled. "'How can I change that about myself?'"
We took a trip down memory lane with the model and activist to learn more about her journey to self-acceptance. From her childhood days in England to becoming the face of Aerie's body-positive brand, this is what advice Lawrence would tell to her younger self.
5 things Iskra Lawrence would tell her younger self
1. You are so much more than your body
"I genuinely thought I was Lara Croft in that photo," Lawrence said, laughing while looking at a picture from her teenage years.
Despite the fierce outfit, Lawrence remembers feeling uncomfortable and getting shamed for her shorts.
"Because I was self-conscious about the size and shape of my body, the only way I was getting appreciated for it was guys and people thinking it was sexy," she said.
"So I would dress in a sexy manner to pretend I was confident about it," she explained. "I was dressing [that way] because I thought that's what I had to be ... because if you’ve got that body, then surely you have to be sexy."
She went on to add a piece of advice she would give to her younger self.
"The advice I would give myself at that age would be -- you are so much more than your body and don’t listen to anyone else’s opinions of you," she said. "Stay true to yourself.”
“”You are so much more than your body. Don't listen to anyone else's opinions of you.
2. Don’t worry about growing up too quickly
As a child, Lawrence recalls riding horses in her home country of England and not caring about what anyone thought of her, even if her outfit clashed.
"And I said I liked fashion!” she joked looking at the picture. “I think the thing to remember is there, you’re just pure, you’re innocent, you have absolutely zero insecurities because you haven’t been taught to have insecurities yet.
“Just keep having fun, keep trying to be you and be a child.”
3. You are fine just the way you are
Despite being a U.S. size two or four, Lawrence says she was still “too big” for the modeling industry.
“I remember being so hung up on the fact that you could see that shadow so it made me look like I had a big stomach,” she said.
Lawrence said she developed very low-self esteem because she felt like her body wasn't as perfect as traditional commercial models, which sent her into a downwards spiral where she became fixated on how her arms, hips or stomach looked in photos.
“I would say to myself, 'Just stop. Stop torturing yourself. Stop torturing your body. You are good enough,'" she said.
4. Always just go for it
At a roller skating photoshoot, Lawrence said she learned to embrace the idea of how to fake it until you make it.
She admits she exaggerated her roller skating skills to book the gig.
“I was not great at roller skating,” she said, while laughing. "I will always just go for it and fake it 'til you make it sometimes."
5. Being real is good enough
After being told time and time again that she was too curvy or big for the traditional modeling industry, in 2016, Lawrence found a home at Aerie.
"There are so many emotions to this photo because as you can see, I am just living my best life," she said about the ad campaign. "I am just finally at a point of being confident and just happy in my own skin and not giving a crap what anyone else thinks."
“”I want them to feel as happy as confident as I do.
Just like Lawrence, Aerie encourages body postivity, using real women, not supermodels, in their ads and promising no digital retouching to showcase their products. Lawrence remembers the "huge" positive reaction she received after the campaign first came out.
“People [were] saying, 'I’ve never seen anything like this in a lingerie campaign before,’" she recalled.
As a body-positive activist and through her responsibility as an Aerie Role Model, Lawrence said she wants to help people recognize their own self-worth.
“I want people who look at my images and instead of wanting to look like me," she said, "I want them to feel as happy as confident as I do."