My Vogue subscription ended in September, and I won't be renewing. As I flick through pages of sensationalised campaigns, all I see is what I saw the month before or the month before that. I'm not inspired by images that don't represent the beauty of diversity. I wish I could fall in love with these beautiful artistic editorials but I can't relate to the images. Even though I'm a successful model, my size (UK 12-14) is still not accepted by the majority of the fashion industry.
This is my twelfth year as a working model. My teenage years were spent recovering from body scrutiny and rejection from agencies because my 37" hips were too big. After battling with my own body - trying dangerous diets and looking into surgery to alter (what I had been told to believe) were big legs, I tried plus-size modelling. I went into see an agency who said I wasn't 'right' because I had to be a minimum of a UK 14 and I was too small. I was so disappointed to feel like my body wasn't right again. But after my experiences and becoming happier in my body, I realised my health was more important.
I decided that if I couldn't find models that I could relate to, neither could a huge portion of women. Size-wise I'm around the UK average. Where as fashion model's measurements represent less than 5% of the population. So it became my mission to try and promote diversity in the industry by showing that #everyBODYisbeautiful.
As I began speaking out on social media the response was humbling and I knew I was doing something right. I now receive hundreds of messages daily from girls and guys who have felt inspired by my mission. Their support has given me a platform and in my opinion this is how we are going to improve the state of diversity in the fashion industry. I want to give them a voice. I am now the managing editor of RunwayRiot, a site talking fashion, beauty and news for women of all sizes.
Also, I recently trained as a Body Project facilitator by the National Eating Disorder Association and my aim is to educate young people so they are aware of body image and mental health. The media and fashion industry needs to take responsibility for the impact images have on our self-esteem. When there is such a strict ideal of beauty that only a small majority of us can relate to, it makes us feel inadequate. 70% of adult women and 40% of men report that they feel pressure from television and magazines to have a perfect body*.
I have seen evidence of progression. However, I won't be satisfied until it's no longer a surprise or talking point to flick through a glossy magazine and see a curvier model. Or when I get to attend the same castings as any other straight-size model (I have never been to a hair, beauty or fragrance casting since becoming plus-size) And when designers start treating women equally by losing labels and having all sizes in the same shops and sections. Recently I found out that brands such as Michael Kors, H&M and J.crew stock sizes upto a UK 24 but refuse to lend samples to potential advertisers. Why can Burberry dress Adele but not make those larger sizes available to us all?
To me beauty is our diversity - the fact you will never meet two people who are the same and I hope that soon we will be celebrating that beauty is more than a sample size.
*These statistics were originally compiled in the All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image Report
Iskra is represented by Models 1
This February, HuffPost UK Style is running a month-long focus on our Fashion For All campaign, which aims to highlight moments of colour, size, gender and age diversity and disability inclusivity in the fashion and beauty world.
We will be sharing moments of diversity at London Fashion Week with the hashtag #LFW4All and we'd like to invite you to do the same. If you'd like to blog about diversity or get involved, email us here.