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Professional model Iskra Lawrence has seen her body altered in image after image. Sometimes her shape has been digitally altered; other times she has tried to change it herself through overexercise and restricting her food.
Nowadays it's easy to retouch images even on our phones, as Lawrence, 25, demonstrated with before-and-after shots she posted on Instagram: She was able to trim her arms and belly, as well as make her skin look smoother. But what's the point of looking "perfect," she asked in the accompanying post: "I can't leave home everyday retouched & live in the 'real world' airbrushed, so why would I want to pretend to be online?"
She continued: "I hope when you see what looks like perfect flawless images of [people] online you don't not ever feel insecure or less beautiful, because it's not real. What's real is you, and you are good enough cus those 'flaws' make you completely unique."
As Lawrence shared in an essay published on Glamour.com, it wasn't until she saw photos of herself without retouching for an Aerie campaign, where she's an #AerieREAL Role Model, that she appreciated her body just the way it is.
You might even say it ignited a spark.
"I saw my body in [Aerie's] beautiful images as it really was, not distorted or edited, and I actually looked and felt happy," Lawrence wrote. "It was the first time I fully embraced the confidence and self-love I had been denying myself for so many years. When those images later went up on a billboard in Times Square (something I would have been mortified about years earlier), I felt fulfilled."
Now she's encouraging other fans to post photos without retouching on Instagram with the hashtag #ShareYourSpark. The campaign celebrates Aerie recently gathering 40 women for a photo shoot (free of retouching, of course) in their underwear to share their own spark in print ads and videos. Posing with sparklers, a diverse range of bloggers, models and designers showed how beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.
On Instagram Lawrence shared her hope that #ShareYourSpark won't just be a campaign, but a movement. As part of it, women are posting their own photos on Instagram, as well posing for pics in Aerie stores, where they share their "spark" written down on a card.
And just as Lawrence hoped, everyone looks perfect, just as they are.