There’s not much Robyn Lawley won’t do to get the shot. Frolic fully clothed in the still-winter cold waters of the Whitsundays? Sure thing. Strip naked on a remote beach? Here, hold my robe. Dive off the side of a boat and float casually while holding onto a rope for dear life? “Call me shark bait,” says Lawley, ever the professional. “I’m a photographer, too, so I get it. I’ll do crazy stuff for a shoot. And even crazier stuff for the environment.”
Lawley, 30, started her modelling career in 2006 and has since posed for Sports Illustrated magazine as the first “plus-size model” to appear in their annual Swimsuit issue and walked for Ralph Lauren at New York Fashion Week. But before she learnt to pout, she learnt to plant trees, and is now fronting marie claire’s Save Our Seas issue, plus Endota’s new natural beauty campaign.
Lawley’s environmentalist roots can be traced to her days growing up in Sydney sowing seeds with her mum every weekend. They have led her to today, where, swimming in the ocean off Hamilton Island, she is using her voice (and face) to protect the world’s most valuable resource. “The environment should really be our number focus all day, every day,” she says. “We don’t exist without the sea.”
Don’t underestimate Lawley’s activist streak. She’s already taken on lingerie giant Victoria’s Secret – and won. Dismayed at the brand’s lack of diversity – and even more so at their chief marketing officer Ed Razek’s troubling comments about transgender and plus-size models – she started the #weareallangels movement last year. In the past 12 months, the brand’s stock price has dropped more than 42 per cent, Razek has stepped down from his role and rumours are swirling that the VS runway show won’t go ahead this year.
“I was a little shocked [at the result],” says Lawley. “Going after L Brands [the parent company of Victoria’s Secret] was incredibly intimidating. I knew they were not going to change though, so I spoke up and used my voice – now look what’s happened. I’m proud that change is happening.”
So what, if anything, can Victoria’s Secret do to redeem themselves? “In my dream world, they would send recyclable, compostable lingerie down the runway, [worn by] models with variance in size, ethnicities and age,” says Lawley, curling the corner of her mega-watt smile at the thought.
As if the fight for fashion inclusivity wasn’t enough, Lawley is now turning her focus to saving the world. Wearing all-sustainable fashion and certified organic beauty products from Endota on the set of our shoot, she gets fired up talking about composting, stopping the Adani coal mine in Queensland and veganism. “My husband [Everest Schmidt] and I have gone vegan together, and seeing him doing that has been really sexy,” she adds. The veganism extends to her beauty regimen: Lawley stopped wearing her moisturiser of 10 years when she found that it contained honey, and has switched to Endota’s Deep Hydration Face Moisturiser.
A champion of their cruelty-free ethics, she’s the face of their Beyond Beauty campaign. For Lawley, real beauty is more than skin deep: “True beauty to me is trees, forests and mother nature. So we must protect it at all costs.”
This story originally appeared in the November issue of marie claire magazine.