We caught up with Iskra at Soho House Austin to get some swimsuit snaps of her new collab with Andie Swim and talk about her journey from beginning modeling at age 12 to her TedX talk on ending the pursuit of perfection.
You’ve been a model since you were 12, what do you love about it?
I love getting to create with a team and work on something new and exciting every day. I’ve traveled the world, met incredible humans and been pushed to really discover who I can be in so many different scenarios and environments.
What’s a challenge of being a model, especially since so young?
The gate keepers of the industry not being inclusive of different body types and making me feel less than and not good enough unless I lost weight - that was tough in my early teens and I believed I’d never make it unless I was as slim as the successful models at the time. And, consequently comparing my body to those models and taking unhealthy measures to try and achieve the weight loss which ultimately lead me to body dysmorphia when in reality the day I stopped trying to change myself to fit their standards and instead decided to challenge the industry by being myself was when I actually found true success.
February 2017 you did a TEDx talk, "Ending the Pursuit of Perfection." When did you realize that you didn’t have to try to be an ideal of perfect - whatever ‘perfect’ is?
It was when I saw that self-love was radical because we had to unlearn so much toxic diet culture messaging, even what we had seen from our community, family and environment growing up. The more I worked in the fashion and beauty industry I saw how often we were manipulated to believe we needed to change and were marketed a false, unrealistic beauty ideal and I knew I had to speak up and try and get through to others who may have felt how I did in my eating disorder.
How did the Andie Swim collab come about?
My incredible talent agent Alex Devlin at WME was a huge Andie fan, had them send me a couple of suits and I fell in love. After that, it was our mission to make this collab happen. I wanted my community to know how incredible Andie is too!
How many suits are in the collaboration?
There are three one-piece styles in three colors and two different recycled fabrics and a 90s-inspired bikini style in two colors.
How hands-on were you in the process?
It was the perfect amount where Andie and the team let me have the final say on styles, fabrics, and colors but did the heavy lifting when it came to manufacturing and distribution. I had full creative decision on the shoot I did for my collection so decided to shoot in Miami with Mid Jordan, a photographer and Creative Director I’ve wanted to create and work with.
What do you love about Andie Swim?
I honestly have never put a suit on and felt the same level of comfort, great fit and chi ness as an Andie suit. The team listened to their customer on what they want and most of us want high-quality suits that we can depend on and feel the most confident in, No one wants a suit that’s riding up, digging in or has our bits falling out. When you put on an Andie Swim suit you don’t have to worry about any of that, you get to just enjoy what you’re doing.
I read you were a competitive national swimmer! Do you still swim regularly?
Yes, those days feel like a lifetime ago, but I do enjoy swimming here in Lake Travis Austin and all the local pools I go to with my family.
You’re so comfortable in a bathing suit, do you have advice for the rest of us?
There’s so much I’ve learned over the years since my eating disorder as a teen. I always remind myself that making memories and finding peace when I’m wearing swimwear far outweighs worrying about what I look like and what others may think. I also remember it is ok to feel insecure because so many others do too, but no one is losing sleep over the things I might be picking myself apart about like my back rolls, cellulite or scars, and if they are, that’s probably because they are struggling with their own insecurities too. I finally remind myself that my body is my home and it’s my best friend. It’s always there for me and it allows me to have all these life experiences, and when I change my mindset to gratitude and seeing my body for its abilities and capabilities, it helps me feel accepting and loving.