marie claire: Congratulations on the new podcast! Take me back to the moment you first decided you were going to launch the podcast. What went through your head as you realised this was something you wanted to do?
Robyn Lawley: Thank you! This past year has been so surreal and tragic for so many, so when this opportunity presented itself (I was quarantining with my family upstate in New York), I thought this was most definitely the time to seize the moment and interview these diverse group of people, carrying stories of survival, perseverance, and acceptance, many of whom are so often left out of the body positivity movement.
You’ve got a really impressive, incredible line-up of guests on the show. Did anyone’s story particularly resonate with you and your journey and how so?
There are so many stories it’s so hard to have any particular ones. However, I love episode one with burn survivor Turia Pitt, it is always my go to now if I find myself in a hospital bed. I use her episode to help find my strength, she has such courage and determination and has been through so much. And my own doctor, Dr. Brooke Goldner, who helped put my lupus into remission through a plant-based diet and who is helping so many.
Social media is a particularly difficult place to navigate when it comes to images of “perfection” and unachievable beauty standards. How do you think we as women can make social media have less of a negative impact when it comes to our body image and self-esteem?
Jameela Jamil has some excellent advice on our series, she makes sure she “unfollows, blocks, mutes and deletes anyone” that that makes her feel bad. Unfortunately, these social media platforms are based on algorithms—algorithms that also hook a lot of users in by making them feel bad about themselves. I think you most definitely should follow her advice—they are after you, and if those people are making you feel bad, then you don’t have to follow them.
I just think it has reached a crazy level of perfection and with these filters, I worry it makes us believe this altered reality. We still have to look at ourselves in the mirror and our bodies. For me now, I try to follow a varied amount of people on my social media, not limited to fashion only, but people who make me laugh, and science and nature.
You’ve spoken really openly about your accident, your chronic health conditions and difficult pregnancy before. How have those things impacted the way you view your body today?
My pregnancy was actually very easy, it was immediately after my pregnancy that my health declined rapidly and suddenly. At age 25, I had two strokes.
Anyone that goes through such a decline in health and who almost dies, I think, is left with a mark. For a while, I kept the strokes hidden because I felt ashamed by them. I was so young. I didn’t understand why? My Lupus/Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome (APS) diagnosis answered the question, however, getting the diagnosis after the fact is also hard to take. I want to prevent the damage in other people. That is why I am so vocal.
I now have epilepsy because of the stroke. Lupus and APS are very serious but can be reversed through diet, I know because I have reversed mine. Unfortunately, epilepsy cannot be but there is hope for the future. I talk openly about my health conditions now because there shouldn’t be shame, I want to eliminate that shame feeling. Actor, writer and comedian Ryan O’Connell and I discuss what it’s like living with an invisible illness and ‘coming out’ of the disability closet so to speak.
How do you approach teaching body acceptance to your daughter in a world where the mainstream messaging so often feels like the opposite?
My partner and I focus on words such as 'strong', 'healthy' and 'beautiful', and we encourage nature, gardening and composting. We try to minimise TV—I think it’s still going to be hard and inevitable that she’ll be surrounded by mainstream messaging, and I’m petrified. I have seen such a shift of late within the industry to include more diversity. It’s not good enough for brands to not represent their buyers. I just keep reiterating she’s beautiful just the way she is.
As a model who has lived and work internationally for many years, how do you think Australia compares to overseas when it comes to body inclusivity?
Australia has a fair way to go, however I am happy to finally see different ethnicities in campaigns of late. I want to see more women like Samantha Harris and Khadija Gbla, and of course, sizes (including heights). Photoshop unfortunately allows companies to scrutinise women’s bodies too much. It’s too easy for them to erase what was once natural, like stretch marks and deem them ‘imperfect’ and remove them. And that goes with every other deemed ‘blemish’, like scars, wrinkles, cellulite etc.
On a positive note, what are the biggest changes you’ve seen take place in relation to body acceptance and inclusivity? And what do you want to see happen next?
The fashion industry has made some huge strides, especially since I first started. It’s now common for runways to feature diversity, and frankly, it's boring without it. Sports Illustrated is always filled now with such epic diversity, and designers from Versace to Gucci are featuring a range of models. I’ve loved seeing Ellie Goldstein model for Gucci recently. She is a model with Down syndrome and a guest in the series
What’s the one thing you would tell your 16-year-old self now, having learnt everything you have, about body acceptance?
That’s such a big question. As much I try to live without regret, I often think back to this moment. If it was just one thing, I would tell myself to stay plant-based (I was vegan as a teen), not for the reasons of weight loss—as the fashion industry was forcing me to do—but for future health reasons and strength.
What’s the one practical piece of advice you would give to any woman struggling with body insecurities right now?
Your body fights for you every single day, she is your ally. She shows up for you. It’s time we turned off the self-hate, it's not going to help you in any way. My piece of advice is show up for her, give her some love back. Take care of your body, feed her nutrients, give her water. Take some time off for yourself. Walk in nature if you can. Loving yourself starts from within.
And lastly, you’ve done an incredible job with the podcast: what is next for Robyn Lawley?
Thank you very much, they were such incredible guests it was easy. There was an amazing producer behind it, Naima Brown. We laughed, fought and cried together—this podcast wouldn’t have happened without her. I hope to get it the recognition it deserves, and perhaps even a TV version.
For my own personal journey, I always want to shine light on the ultimate MOTHER—Mother Nature—and what we can do as individuals urgently and today to fix the crisis we are in, as well as helping others to end their autoimmune battles, like Lupus and APS.
Check out 'Every Body with Robyn Lawley: Surviving & Thriving In A Body Shaming World' here.