Model Diary: Dare I Tackle the Weight Debate? Part II: Leave Crystal Renn Alone!

Yesterday’s post, in which I expressed my relationship with the fashion industry’s extreme standards for thinness, was motivated by the buzz going around about Crystal Renn’s new photos in the December issue of Harper’s Bazaar. Renn is noticeably thinner in the photos, and everyone—from Facebook nobodies to fashion blogs to New York Magazine—seems intent on voicing their opinion about it. Renn summed it up best herself when she said, “I think that no matter what weight I am, I will be criticized.” Yes, she’s lost some weight. Concerns for her well-being aside (Renn’s booker has stated that she is very happy and healthy, and that she had lost the weight in a healthy, self-loving way): Big fucking deal. Just because she’s not a size 14 anymore does not mean she’s a sell-out or a hypocrite. Her success as a plus-size model was revolutionary and will never be forgotten. There will forever be photos of her on the Internet in her lovely largess, and her Terry Richardson spread (and all its controversy) is seared into our collective fashion consciousness.

The implied modus operandi of Renn’s career, both in terms of the fashion industry and cultural standards of beauty, has never simply been “plus-size models are beautiful too,” but rather, that women can be beautiful at any size, regardless of numbers. She has exemplified that as a size 14, 10, and now as a size 8; in full-length and portrait shots; in photos and on the runway. She might no longer be a plus-size model, but she has still achieved the RARE accomplishment of being a high-fashion supermodel without being a size 0. And that is a huge feat.

Renn, in losing weight, should therefore not be considered as “turning on” her admirers. It is them, rather, who are turning on her. In being upset with her weight loss, they counter her mission of showing the world that women—models or not—should be accepted at any size. Why must she be at the extreme of the body spectrum? The woman has already experienced so much—good and bad—at both extremes. Shouldn’t “medium” or “average”—or “full-bodied” or “zaftig” (in the juiciest sense of the word)—be the next body type we see (at least once) in the fashion world? I think so, and there’s no one better than Renn to usher it in.

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