Meet The Model Who Hit Back At Body-Shamers — By Eating Potato Chips

Last month, an Instagram troll accused "plus-size model" and ex-national swimmer Iskra Lawrence of promoting obesity, saying that "people like her [are] eating too many bags of crisps" — and proving, once again, how bitterly ignorant the internet can be. Sadly, body-shaming stories like this one aren't uncommon, and women are regularly abused online based on their appearances. This is why it was so refreshing when Lawrence faced her body-shamers and flipped them the proverbial finger by posting a photo of herself on Instagram in underwear, covered in bags of chips, and then proceeded to share a slow-motion video of herself eating them. Major win. Lawrence’s quick and clever reaction garnered her a huge amount of positive feedback and coverage. In the same week that Amy Schumer was calling out Glamour for including her in their "Chic At Any Size" issue, Lawrence (who had a six-page spread in the same issue) was celebrating her own body louder than ever. We caught up with the model to talk body positivity, trolls, and why everyone needs to get over labels. How did your potato chip Instagram posts come about?
"It’s really out of character [for me], and it took a lot to push me to that. I had a girl who runs one of the fan pages message me saying she’d been so upset by a comment that she’d been crying, and it really hurt her. I read it, and I was like Oh, no." Sadly, you’ve seen this before. Why did this particular comment bother you so much?
"It felt like it wasn’t even attacking me; it was the way it said 'people like you who...' They were attacking so many people." So then you just thought, Screw it! I’m going to eat chips in my bra and underwear?
"I thought: I have the visibility; I have the platform to do this. And I just happened to be on set in my underwear, and we shot it in five minutes. I had no idea the momentum it would gather."

What’s the online reaction been like to the film?
"I’ve gone from 1.3 million followers to 1.7 million in a week. And out of thousands of comments, only five said I was promoting obesity. They were like, 'I can’t believe you’re going to eat all those crisps.' I was like, 'Obviously it was a joke!' You just have to go to these extremes to get people’s attention."

Well, congratulations! The world definitely needs more "plus-size" role models like yourself. And on that note, where do you stand on the label "plus size"?
"I’m a U.K. 14 and I get people commenting on my pictures saying, 'If she’s plus-size, what am I?' It could be kept as an industry term — but it’s not. So you’re basically labeling half the population 'plus size,' because the fashion industry has labeled me."

So it’s a convenient label for the industry that has been translated into a negative label for anyone who isn’t "skinny"?

"Yes, and people don’t want to be labeled. Firstly, because why should 50% of women be labeled when the other 50% aren’t? And secondly 'plus size' has negative connotations. If you’re a U.K. 16 and over, you can’t generally shop at the same stores. And you definitely can’t shop the same collections. You have to shop in a basement or online. You are not treated equally; you’re excluded from fashion." You were also in Glamour’s recent "Chic At Any Size" issue. What did you think of Amy Schumer’s reaction to that?
"She’s entitled to her opinion. She’s been such a great figure for empowering women. I think it was a misread situation." Right, and essentially, if we didn’t feel the need to label women, we wouldn’t have the need to argue over details like what size someone is and whether that makes them plus size or not.
"If we could stop labeling all women and treat them equally, I think it would just be a huge step forward. That’s what I’m trying to campaign for. It’s not just size; it’s exclusiveness. And just treating everyone fairly and giving them all the same opportunity to be a part of fashion." How is social media helping you and other "plus-size" models get more of the limelight?
"If we want to get where Cara [Delevigne] is and anywhere near where Kendall [Jenner] is, we have to become a brand and a personality. Because we don’t get those castings. I’ve never had a beauty casting at their size, or a hair or fragrance casting. I want to really make my mark on the industry, but I know my size is going to hold me back." You can follow Iskra Lawrence on Instagram @iamiskra
It's your body. It's your summer. Enjoy them both. Check out more #TakeBackTheBeach, here.

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