During my first round of auditions for America’s Next Top Model last year, I was asked a question about who was my favorite model. A lot of my fellow competitors felt that Tyra Banks, Gisele Bundchen or Adriana Lima were their favorite models. I answered the question very simply, “Crystal Renn.” Following many glares that implied question marks, I also answered why.
Crystal was discovered at a mall by an agent. The agent who discovered her, obviously saw her natural beauty and potential. According to Oprah.com the agent asked her to loose one third of her body weight. Crystal did such and her drastic weight loss caused health problems – including anorexia. She then gained 70 pounds and needless to say, she was no longer considered thin enough to be a “regular” sized model since regular models are between a size 2 and 4. She is now a size 12 and in my view, she is the most successful plus-size model out there. She has worked with Jean Paul Gaultier and Dolce & Gabbana. She is a spokesperson for the clothing line Torrid & she also models for Lane Bryant.
I’m considered a plus-size model. I’m a size 8-10. I feel that what Crystal did took courage – despite health problems, I believe she gained the 70 pounds by choice after finally realizing the harm she was doing to herself. Other models are not that lucky and the pressure to be or become thin is so severe that some models develop drug habits, eating disorders, etc. to remain thin. Now, I would also like to stress that most models (including those that I have met) truly are born very thin and tall. It’s their natural build and they do not starve themselves or abuse anything to look that way. However, I would also like to mention that the ideal that the media puts in to the mind of young women by featuring these thin models in every add campaign is unrealistic and adds immense pressure to girls like myself. Models like Crystal should help even out that divide and I hope to see more models like her on the runways. I don’t mind the skinny models but I do mind that someone of Crystal’s size is considered rare. Especially since (according to USAtoday.com) the average American woman is 152 pounds (74 kg) and 5’3” tall (163 cm) not 5’9” and 120 pounds.
After visiting several modeling agencies – including some of the largest agencies in the world, I have usually left every single meeting with two choices: Either I gain more weight or I loose 25-30 pounds. I refuse to do either. I’m a healthy person and I will not alter myself drastically to fit “the standards” – Crystal enforces this thought process. She has had several interviews with magazines and even an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show to talk about her story. She was recently featured in Glamour Magazine encouraging healthy body images and that women of all sizes wear swimsuits. Here are two photos:
All of the above is why I consider Crystal Renn my favorite model and I included a short version of her story in my answer to the judge’s of America’s Next Top Model. She’s a positive figure and she is encouraging. She broke the mold and took the criticism that she faced for doing that very well. Hopefully, some day soon her size will not be considered “plus” size but instead it will be considered the average size.