Model Robyn Lawley reveals why lupus battle, facial scarring led her to question 'body positivity' movement in new podcast

Robyn Lawley says she was inspired to question why we are "obsessed with perfection" in her new podcast.
Robyn Lawley says she was inspired to question why we are "obsessed with perfection" in her new podcast. Photo credit: Supplied/Getty.

Australian plus-size model Robyn Lawley has opened up about the moment her whole career changed following a seizure during her battle with lupus, which saw her take a tumble down a staircase. 

In her new podcast released this week, Every Body with Robyn Lawley: Surviving and Thriving in a Body Shaming World, the model and activist reveals she was left with bad facial scarring from the fall. 

The "extra scrutiny" she says she now faces inspired her to look closely at the popular #bodypositivty social media movement and ask: who does it leave out? Whose bodies and stories remain on the margin?

Guests on Lawley's podcast include actress Jameela Jamil, burn survivor Turia Pitt, comedian Bridget Everett as well as people living with conditions like Tourette's Syndrome and Down's Syndrome. 

I put some questions to Lawley ahead of the launch to find out more about the project and what she's learned while developing it. 

Can you tell us a bit more about your journey with lupus and some of the realisations it made you have about the beauty industry?
Sure, my journey with lupus and APS has been very eye opening. It disguises itself in many forms. Mine was a bizarre rash in the very beginning, it then disappeared when I did a raw vegan cleanse and fell pregnant. It came back in the form of two strokes immediately after the birth of my daughter. I was 25. A few years later because of the damage of the strokes, I had a seizure down a staircase and was left with some scarring on my face. As a fashion model, I face extra scrutiny now, not only because of my size but because of my disability and facial scarring. I could remove the facial scarring; however, I ask the question why? Why are we obsessed with perfection, when our world resembles a different picture?

You've been a fierce advocate for body inclusivity, but the term 'body positivity' has been bandied about a lot lately. Do you think it's time for a change? 
Thank you, yes most definitely. I have to admit it has been awesome to see such change; a few years ago I never would have dreamed to have seen such progress, so I am glad it has been made and that women have different bodies they can at least look at, that resemble them realistically. When I grew up, I didn't have anyone to look at that looked like me other than the women in my immediate family. You also rarely saw women accepting their 'deemed flaws' labelled by society. It is so liberating to accept those flaws and move on with your life. 

What inspired this podcast and what have you learned during it? 
Over the course of my career, I've been able to see such monumental change that I wanted to give a voice to whom I felt had helped this change and who had been left out. There are so many inspiring people within this series. I've learned to be easier on myself and that there are a lot of people who also judge themselves as critically as I do sometimes, however, I'm learning to be easier on myself, prouder of myself, and to stand up for myself more. 

Was there a particular standout moment while interviewing that really resonated with you? 
Some of the key speakers' quotes really stuck in my head. I no longer take abuse on social media thanks to Jameela Jamil and Mia Freedman. And Harnaam Kaur (AKA the Bearded Dame) rocks who she is and makes you question why we as women have to do so much more than men? Turia Pitt's (burn survivor) interview will stay with me forever as awe inspiring. So many of our interviews break free of the traditional moulds. I also loved talking with Brett Archibald about his survival story out at sea treading water for 29 hours. And Paralympian Captain Ryley Batt discusses what it's like to grow up inside his body. So many epic stories that I'm so excited to share.

Every Body with Robyn Lawley: Surviving and Thriving in a Body Shaming World is now available on Audible.