Iskra Lawrence Shares the Mantra That Got Her Through Eating Disorder Recovery

Iskra Lawrence talks modeling, pregnancy, and body acceptance.

Iskra Lawrence is often referred to as a body acceptance role model. But according to the 33-year-old pregnant mom, "acceptance" isn't just something you model — you have to actively pursuit it.

"Body acceptance, and any kind of body image work, definitely isn't linear," Lawrence tells PS in an exclusive interview backstage at Cupshe's "Naturally You" runway show during Paraiso Miami Swim Week. "It takes a lot of time and a lot of healing and a lot of unpacking of external factors, toxic diet culture, the messages that we're constantly bombarded with on social media, and comparing yourself." Even on days like the one we met, where's she surrounded by tons of supportive women and headlining a swimwear show, she has to tap into the coping mechanisms she's put in place for combatting self-criticism and doubt.

Before every runway, she repeats these three words: "I am enough." "'I am enough' has been my affirmation through my eating disorder recovery through all those times and seasons when my body's changed," she tells PS. "'I am enough' always helps me get to that place where I need to be." Repeating the phrase before a show reminds her why she puts herself out there on stage. "I always remember that I'm doing it for my teenage self who had an eating disorder and never saw herself represented."

"I used to work out sort of purely to burn calories and it's such a detrimental way to look at fitness."

While Lawrence's name may be commonplace in the industry today, it's no secret that fashion and swimwear especially has had a problem with body diversity. "I got told for so many years that I would never make it and that my body wasn't the right size," Lawrence says. But on June 2, preparing to walk Cupshe's show several months into her second pregnancy, she tells PS that whatever size she's in at the time is the one that's "right."

This approach has helped her embrace a softer, more intuitive approach to health and fitness, too. "I used to work out sort of purely to burn calories and it's such a detrimental way to look at fitness," Lawrence says. Now, she focuses on movement that brings her joy. While fitness has been challenging because of pregnancy symptoms — particularly nausea, dizziness, and joint pain — Lawrence has prioritized long walks, weight lifting, and swimming.

Her latest obsession though? Pelvic-floor training, something she's doing for the first time ever. "I have really bad urine leakage this pregnancy," she tells PS. "[Urine leakage] is not fun. Every time you laugh, every time you sneeze, every time you cough." After a recent airplane incident in which she mildly peed her pants while flying, Lawrence started intentionally training her pelvic floor via exercises and regular visits to the chiropractor.

The rest of her "me" time lately has been spent preparing for her second home birth. "It's a big challenge," Lawrence says. She called her first home birth with son, Alpha, "primal" in a vlog recap about the experience with boyfriend Philip Payne. "I just had no idea how bad the contractions were," Lawrence said in the vlog. "They just felt never-ending." This time around she's hired both a midwife and doula to guide her through the process, including preventive care to help set her up for a seamless birthing process.

"I know how hard it was last time and I want to do everything I can to be as prepared as possible," Lawrence says. At least we know she already has a mantra at the ready.

Alexis Jones is the senior health and fitness editor at PS. Her passions and areas of expertise include women's health and fitness, mental health, racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare, and chronic conditions. Prior to joining PS, she was the senior editor at Health magazine. Her other bylines can be found at Women's Health, Prevention, Marie Claire, and more.