Crystal Renn speaks up for plus-size models
Crystal Renn isn’t just a pretty face; she’s had quite the ride to get where she is. At the age of twelve, a talent scout spotted her and told her she would be a successful model if she lost about 60 pounds. She was 5’9 and weighed around 160 pounds at the time. Three years later, when she moved to New York to pursue a modelling career, the 14-year-old was a size zero, weighing in at an abnormally unhealthy 95 pounds.
Nearly a year later, after starving herself and exercising eight hours a day to maintain her “skinny” figure, Crystal’s body revolted and reverted back to its natural size. While the pounds were coming back, she decided to leave the world of “fashion” modelling for “plus-size” modelling. She has written about her experience in a book entitled Hungry: A Young Model’s Story of Appetite, Ambition, and the Ultimate Embrace of Curves.
Crystal has walked down notable catwalks for designers such as Chanel, Zac Posen, Vena Cava and Jean Paul Gaultier; been the face for campaigns for H&M, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Saks Fifth Avenue, Jean Paul Gaultier, Jimmy Choo, Barneys, Dsquared; and graced magazines such as Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
The 26-year-old model recently spoke at a panel discussion hosted by the National Eating Disorders Awareness Organisation and the Model Alliance at Pace University in America, praising Zac Posen as one designer who endeavours to diversify the catwalk with his wide-ranging choice of models.
“By having a size eight sample, you are giving freedom to a designer,” she said. “Most of the models are going to be size sixes and eights, and you could have tens. If a really amazing model walked in who was a size zero, you would tailor the dress down to her.”
Crystal is not the first model to have taken a stand against size zero models. In 2009, Alexandra Shulman, the editor of British Vogue, accused designers of forcing magazines to hire skinnier models to fit the clothes they make. She claimed that many of the garments sent out to magazines for photo shoots are so small they do not even fit the star models.
Another action taken was the Vogue Health Initiative launched in May 2012 – a pact between the 19 international editors of Vogue to encourage a healthier approach to body image within the industry.
Chris Gay, president of Marilyn Model Agency, spoke out against the impractical standards of the fashion industry. “The industry standards are ridiculous. They’re not standards a woman can keep through her life or her career… You’re replacing good models with new models because of unrealistic standards.”
In Crystal’s words: “Modelling is about beauty, but it’s also an energy. That’s not a size.” Look beyond the number. It is about being healthy, not skinny.