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Iskra Lawrence: How I rediscovered my sexiness and confidence as a new mom

My career was all about body-positive, sexy photos of me in swim and underwear. Did I have to give that up because I had a kid?
2018 Glamour Women Of The Year Summit:  Women Rise
"Would my child resent me posting lingerie pics in 10 years? What about my family-friendly neighborhood — will I embarrass myself if they all see me in my undies?" Iskra Lawrence writes in an essay about rediscovering herself after having a child.Craig Barritt / Getty Images for Glamour

Iskra Lawrence, a model and entrepreneur, welcomed her first child in 2020. She's the founder of Saltair and Self Funding as well as an activist for body positivity, known for sharing unedited photos on social media and calling out companies for airbrushing models’ bodies. Her mission continues later this month at The BodCon 2022, a virtual conference focused on body confidence, where Lawrence will be a speaker. In a personal essay for TODAY, she shares her own journey with self-confidence as a new mother.

The day you give birth you become a new person: a mother. It is truly the greatest gift, but she’s a total stranger.  

I was a model traveling the world, attending red carpets and getting glam daily, but I knew that wasn’t all I wanted. I dreamt of the day I would start a family of my own. It turned out that it happened a little sooner than I’d anticipated, but it was always meant to be, and my partner and I are grateful every day for our baby. 

I adored pregnancy — there are still days I miss it. I have never felt so special as I did when I was growing my baby and then when I was bringing him into the world. I was in awe of my body as it stretched, shifted and softened. I would spend hours massaging lotions on my body, dressing up my cute bump and taking lots of naps. I felt the urge to nourish my body with healthy, fresh food and to prioritize movement so I could have a safe home birth. I invested more time and intention into looking after myself than ever before because I knew it could benefit my growing baby.

I remember the flowing compliments and smiles from strangers. Everyone wanted me to feel like a goddess, with my friends and family helping clean my home, laundry all magically taken care of. 

But pregnancy is such a tiny part of the journey as a mother. That really began the moment I held my precious baby — a baby who was screaming, needing me. That need was like nothing I had ever experienced. Immediately I felt unequipped despite all the books I had read, videos I’d watched or advice I’d been given, welcome or not. New instincts switched on when my baby cried, which seemed to be 24/7. 

All of a sudden I became this sleep-deprived zombie, neglecting basic hygiene, forgetting to eat — and when I did eat, it was whatever was most convenient, never fresh, home-cooked meals. Soon the dishes started piling up, along with the nonstop laundry demands of a newborn who spits up and has poop explosions. My home was a mess. I was a mess.

Then there were the demands from my community on social media, wanting to know my birth story, hoping for cute baby pictures and probably a reveal of how my body “snapped back” after childbirth. 

Even though that was the least of my priorities when all I wanted was more than 45 minutes of unbroken sleep, a shower and a proper meal, I had to get back to work. I am the breadwinner for my family. Around the same time, I was also trying to sell my previous home. Six months postpartum, I found out that Aerie didn’t want to renew my modeling contract.

I felt lost — not just in relation to what I would do to continue supporting my family, but also in terms of who I was. I wasn’t modeling or traveling to events to speak about body acceptance. I had left New York and was living in the suburbs of Texas, where my partner, Philip, is from and where we’d decided to raise our family. 

I started to think I should just try getting back to “me” — and that “me” was a body-confident lingerie model. I started looking at my body and wondering if I felt confident enough. Then another thought dawned on me: Can I even do this? I’m a mother now. What would people think? Would my child resent me posting lingerie pics in 10 years? What about my family-friendly neighborhood — will I embarrass myself if they all see me in my undies? 


Would my child resent me posting lingerie pics in 10 years?

iskra lawrence

I had never felt this immense pressure before. Before becoming a mother, I lived in swim and underwear. That was my job for the last 18 years. How could it all just suddenly feel unnatural, uncomfortable like I just lost my bad b— energy? I thought, “You’re a mother now. You’ll look desperate for attention and validation — it’s just not a good look.” 

I wanted to rediscover the part of me that wouldn’t give a damn about parading around in my panties, or anyone’s opinions of me. I needed to invest in self-care like I used to — even if that was just a daily shower, putting lotion on and getting dressed in clothes that weren’t sweatpants. Getting ready in the morning started to become more efficient and helped me feel more like myself. Wearing outfits that I love was a way to express that yes, I’m a mom now, but I’m still the stylish woman who used to stomp down runways. 

Finally I said yes to putting on some sexy lingerie. There’s obviously still a place for my big granny knickers, but jeez, did it feel good to put on something special. I found some good lighting and took some fire selfies and posted them. Comment after comment flooded in from mothers who related to feeling like they had to switch off their sexuality or tone down what they wore after having a baby.  

I want them — and all moms — to know that you are the same person you were before you had a child, and that you can be whatever you want. Maybe you’ll never post a selfie at all — let alone in your undies — but you could, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else has to say. You are the sum of all your parts, and even if some feel forgotten, left behind or unrecognizable now, they always live on. I know that now.