Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Crystal Renn: Plus Size Model : Changing Attitudes in the Fashion Industry?

photos:amazon.com and
belezasustentavel.wordpress.com (Renn in Jean Paul Gaultier)

Could the inclusion of a larger sized model in such a high profile, iconic fashion show be an indication that attitudes are changing about beauty and healthy lifestyles in the fashion industry? Karl Lagerfeld seems to be changing his stance on hiring only stick thin models for his legendary brand, that was pioneered by the one and only Coco Chanel. 

I believe Coco would be proud. Coco Chanel was a woman who challenged the mainstream of her time and broke down barriers for women; she was the first to be photographed in the 1920's wearing pants, and it became a fashion rage, for crying out loud!

Crystal Renn, of the plus size division of Ford Models, (I wasn't aware that such a division even existed until I researched this piece) saw her career kick into high gear as soon as she stopped starving herself and let herself reach her natural size 14-16 shape. Renn admits that trying to stay thin to keep up with the modeling standards has damaged  her psychologically and led her to unhealthy eating habits.   Renn has released a book on the subject called "Hungry, Appetite, Ambition and the Ultimate Embrace of Curves".  In the book, she admits that in order to get into the modeling industry, she had to restrict her diet by cutting out meat, eggs, sugar, and animal fat.  She started eating whole grains and exercising constantly. While any of us can advocate cutting back on unhealthy foods such as animal fat and sugar, she started to take it to an extreme. When Crystal was 14, she was told by a modeling scout (not from Ford) that she had to lose 4 inches on her hips and lose 30 pounds.  She did all this. At the age of 14. Then she plateaued. 

She was successful as a young model in New York, as her eating disorder continued, maintaining her weight at 95-105lbs. When she hit age 17,  her body rebelled. She couldn't lose any more weight. Chastised by her agents, she was taken aside and told she could either do commercials or become a plus sized model. She chose the latter. Renn continues to have an explosive career in modeling and has maintained her size 14 figure. She is an inspiration to women everywhere to accept themselves as they truly are, to be healthy, and not try to shove your body into a size 2 dress, or fit a square peg into a round hole. 

Crystal Renn's book;

Hungry: A Young Model's Story of Appetite, Ambition and the Ultimate Embrace of Curves, $22.00 is available at amazon.com.


RAS Jacobson said...

In difficult economic times, heavier women always represent opulence, the ability to maintain a woman of size used to be provide her spouse with status. And so while I'd like to believe that voluptuous is the new skinny, it is wonderful to see women of all sizes finding real work in the world of high fashion.

Jennifer Sanderson said...

Thanks RAS. I too, believe that the attitudes have changed greatly over the years. Marilyn Monroe was a size 12 and she was considered a great beauty, a superstar. Now I wonder, would she look fat next to some of the super waifs with their bones jutting out from their backs and collarbones?