'Now I'm able to tell people, "Avoid the diets, because you will gain it back, most likely, and you're just going to live in a hellish world while doing it."' Preach it, formerly-starving-now-plus-size-model-memoirist Crystal Renn:
As Margaret wrote, Crystal Renn is the highest-paid plus-sized model in America. Discovered at 14 and told to basically change her body, Renn went on to a successful modeling career - but also a serious struggle with anorexia and bulimia. Eventually, Renn - and her body - couldn't take it anymore, and with her agency's support, she segued into plus-size modeling, where she's a major star. And while I'm generally skeptical of 23-year-old's memoirs, as a Salon interview with our friend Kate Harding shows, she's got some important things to say in Hungry: A Young Model's Story of Appetite, Ambition, and the Ultimate Embrace of Curves .
Asked how the industry can change, Renn says,
I think, ideally, it starts with sample sizes. A Size 10 for the sample sizes would be a great start — up from, like, what? A 2? A 0? That's a huge step. Then they could pin the clothes to very thin girls, the ones who are naturally thin, but curvier girls, like a size 14, could get into them. I know that, because I'm a 12, and I've been able to get into sample sizes — you know, with a lot of effort [laughs] — but I do editorials all the time, and sometimes we have to work with it. And you can absolutely pin the clothes down. I have size 24s pinned to me all the time. So I think a 10 would be a great starting place so no one could say, "Oh, well, the sample sizes are the reason we don't hire bigger girls."
As to her ultimate hopes, Renn is pragmatic.
Nobody should look on the runway and see only 14s. That's ridiculous. I think there should be all different sizes on the runway, and I think that should be what's modern. Let's stop making one body type cool for a decade and start to say all shapes and sizes are accepted — and not only accepted, but absolutely ideal, the most beautiful. Health! Health is the most beautiful.
And that's a crucial point: the idea is not merely a token spread per year featuring only plus-size models (like the upcoming Glamour shoot, in which Renn features) but to showcase a range of healthy body types. It's important to remember, of course, that Renn is still a model: at size 12, she's not large by average American standards, and her proportions are, of course, "conventional." She has the genetic gift of being photogenic that few women possess. And the message to take away should not necessarily be, "ooh, I should be a model, too!" -I'd hate for this story to glamorize another unrealistic scenario - but that a few more young girls could be, and make a success, without needing to starve themselves. (And as an interview with Glamour insta-star Lizzie Miller shows, the typical plus-size experience is less exalted.) My point is, this should still not necessarily be the dream - and that's a bigger issue - but it's wonderful that she's shown one can be healthy and true to one's self, and achieve hers.
Dying To Be The Next Gisele [Salon]
Lizzie Miller's Glamour Shot [LA Times]