Plus magazine editor Madeline Jones drew plenty of criticism — including from our own Dodai — earlier this week when she was quoted saying some pretty objectionable things about model Crystal Renn, an eating disorder survivor who has had the gall to drop a few dress sizes over the course of the last three years. In RadarOnline's version of events, Jones "lamented" Renn's weight loss, which she called a "betrayal." She also claimed that Renn had "deceived" the plus-size community about the true reasons for her weight loss — which Jones said was not the gradual reintroduction of low-impact exercise like yoga and hiking into her daily routine, as Renn (who no longer calls herself a plus-size model) has stated repeatedly. "She should have said she wasn't comfortable in her skin anymore and wanted to make more money," said Jones. "Instead she has deceived us and we feel insulted!"
Except, Jones says that she doesn't believe any of those things, and certainly didn't say them as Radar reported. Jones, who commented on another blog that she had been misquoted, told me over email that she has "been sick over this," and called Radar's mischaracterization of her interview "one of the most despicable things that I have ever experienced in my career." Jones says Radar asked her to elaborate on the reactions to Renn's weight loss that her readers have shared, so she gave some examples of the extreme responses Renn can elicit. Which Radar then quoted as her words.
Crystal Renn helped to put the term PLUS SIZE in the mouths of people everywhere, why would I say things like that about her?
When I was asked about the readers' reaction to her weight loss I told them the positive and the negative. They ONLY printed the negative and then went on and said it came from me.
When we went back to them and asked about this, they said it was journalistic freedom. My mistake was not having more control over the interview and recording it — at this point it's my word against theirs. Still, I'm confident my work in the industry will speak for who I truly am and that I'm not as petty and disrespectful as they made me out to be.
Jones had been quoted as saying that plus-size women felt personally "betrayed" by Renn. The RadarOnline article began:
Former plus size model and anorexia survivor Crystal Renn's dramatic weight loss has sparked outrage in the plus size community who have supported her and helped launch her career, RadarOnline.com is exclusively reporting.
"Everyone rallied around her and now she's turned against us," PLUS Model Magazine Editor-in-Chief Madeline Jones told RadarOnline.com in an exclusive interview. "We have been betrayed by her."
It went on to quote Jones as delivering a number of damning indictments of Renn, including: "After Emme, Crystal was the biggest plus size supermodel in our era and a lot of readers aspired to be like her...We supported her one hundred percent."
And: "You don't lose that much weight doing yoga and hiking! You have to put a lot of effort to go from a 14 to a size 6. We're not that stupid, we know how hard it is to lose weight and she insulted our intelligence."
And: "Once she got down to a size 10 she lost the support of a lot of people. We're disappointed because she was our star fighting for equality and fashion for us, and now she's going to their side. It is sad that she's turned her back on us."
Obviously, if Jones in fact did not say those things — but merely articulated for Radar what she perceived to be the positions of some people within the plus-size community — for Radar to put those words in her mouth is journalistically irresponsible and incredibly inaccurate. Especially if, as Jones claims, she also made it clear that she was quoting others, and not stating her own opinion. The whole woman-vs.-woman, plus-size-death-match narrative sure makes for a nice headline, though!
I've reached out to Radar and the writer of this piece, Debbie Emery, for comment.