The May issue of Paris Vogue features Penelope Cruz as guest editor. Inside, the shoot starring noted plus-size model Crystal Renn includes one partially nude image, in which her pubes are the focus. [NSFW]
The May issue (for which there are three different covers; you can see the others here) rounds out a long procession of magazines embracing curvy or "plus size" women… but asking them to remove their clothes.
We've seen Christina Hendricks in a bustier for New York Magazine; Dirty Martini in lingerie for V Magazine; Tara Lynn, Candice Huffine, Marquita Pring, Michelle Olson, and Kasia Pilewicz clad in swimwear and leotards for V Magazine; Tara Lynn nude in French Elle; a pyramid of naked ladies shot for Glamour, and the naked "woman on page 194" of Glamour. Just for starters.
In January, Jenna wrote a piece titled "So, Why Are Plus-Size Models So Often Naked, Anyway?" and noted:
Eroticizing a plus-size model is a pretty easy, and in some ways predictable, choice. Do the images rely on the old trope of the voluptuous woman as sexually salacious? Is it just that the stylist couldn't (or couldn't be bothered) to pull clothes in the right sizes? Are we sick of seeing plus-size shoots with lots of sexy, kittenish posing? (On that last score, well, yes - a little.)
But there's a difference between some of the sultry, kittenish, come-hither, seductive poses mentioned above and the way Crystal Renn was shot for Paris Vogue by Steven Klein.
Since the photograph was taken at a low angle, Renn looms in front of the viewer. In this image, she not only appears giant, but literally and figuratively above it all. Looking down her nose at us, it's as if she dares us to look back, and frankly, doubts that we are worthy.
If only she'd had that same expression in this shot. Naturally, one's eye is drawn to her pubic hair, not only because pubic hair is something we rarely see in mainstream media in our society, but also because its dark color and rough texture contrasts against her pale, smooth skin and the slick, vibrant red coat. Renn's head is thrown back, which may telegraph a certain amount of detached cool, but wouldn't this picture have been stronger if she were staring right into the lens, daring you to look, to touch?
Here, Penelope Cruz writes: "The story of Crysal Renn touched me very much. I hope it inspires other women like her to share their experiences." One image here is of Renn at at extremely low weight. As you may know, she wrote a book about her life, including her eating disorder. It seems notable that a high-fashion magazine like Paris Vogue would not just use Renn as a model, but allow that her story is as interesting as her body.
Still, the strongest image in this shoot is the one in which Renn is fully clothed — in the purple leather suit. Because the pubic hair shot — or this one, in which she is on her knees, bare-bottomed — seem less about fashion and more about fat fetish. Also, in this image, Renn looks way bigger than she did in a recent shoot inGlamour, or in V Magazine. Was this intentional? As Renn told the New York Times in January: "Because I am a plus-size model, they like to make an example… They see a roll, and they say, ‘Ooh, a roll!' And they focus on it." Unfortunately, with some of these images, it seems the focus is on Crystal Renn's size, or her pubic hair — and not on what a great model she is.
Earlier: The Pros & Cons Of V Magazine's Plus-Size Issue
V Magazine Can't Put A Plus Size Model In Its Pages Without A Straight Size Model For Comparison
Glamour's "Plus-Size" Model Photo Unveiled On Ellen
Is Crystal Renn's Success Really A "Triumph" For Size 12s?
Naked Fat Girls On Ellen! Sort Of!
"You Know They Mean 'Fat':" Lara Stone, Crystal Renn, And Body Diversity
Glamour Shocks Readers By Featuring Plus-Size Model's Belly