New at The Judgment of Paris: Crystal Renn
(Originally posted on The Judgment of Paris Forum, July 12, 2004.)
We are pleased to add Ford model Crystal Renn to the survey page of the site's favourite models. We have been considering adding several fan favourites, but Crystal leads the way for several reasons. First of all, her story is genuinely inspiring--a young girl nearly kills herself trying to conform to the inhuman demands of straight-size modelling; quits starving; gains weight and beauty in equal measure; and becomes a plus-size supermodel. It's a story that is familiar to us from the careers of Christine Alt, Kate Dillon, and Shannon Marie, but Miss Renn makes it significant for a whole new generation.
Regular readers of this forum may consider Crystal's addition something of a volte-face on our part, and to be honest, we were initially somewhat skeptical about this model. We didn't want a repeat of the Carre Otis situation, because the absolute last thing that the size-celebration movement needs is another faux-plus size 10 claiming to be a representative for curvaceous women. But to her great credit, Crystal has lately allowed herself to become a true plus-size model--a size 14 at 5'9--which gives her tale of embracing curves real credibility. And Miss Renn's youthful age (18) is a great benefit as well, since the industry desperately needs younger models who are a size 14 . . . or better.
Crystal has attracted considerable attention in the mainstream press, including a profile in Glamour in January, along with a far superior write-up in the February Teen Vogue. Unfortunately, these articles focussed a little too heavily on her days as an anorexic model, which always raises the spectre that such accounts will become "how to" guides for impressionable young fans eager to mimic celebrity behaviour, no matter how self-destructive. (E.g., Kate Dillon famously stated that her anorexia began by watching a television movie on the subject.) We hope that future interviews with Miss Renn will focus more on the positive aspects of her transformation from dying waif to curvaceous goddess, and on how much she, and everyone around her, prefers her fuller figure.
One quotation from Crystal's Glamour profile really stood out as directly pertaining to the topics that we discuss on this forum:
All I could think about was signing that modelling contract when I turned 16 and moving to the city. I'd plastered my room with pictures of Gisele, Carmen Kass, and Maggie Rizer and focused all my attention on losing as much weight as possible.
What a tragedy that these were the models whose careers Crystal strove to emulate. Many young girls undoubtedly have similar dreams, and punish themselves mercilessly in order to achieve them. If only those girls plastered their rooms with pictures of Valerie Lefkowitz and Barbara Brickner, instead of those skeletal celebs, their negative aspirations would turn to positive ones. Instead of thinking, "I want to be a model, so I need to torture myself with excruciating exercise," they could think, "I want to be a model, so I can eat whatever I want, and let my body develop naturally."
Readers of this forum will already be familiar with many of the images in Crystal's initial gallery. It is a pleasure for us to preserve her American Vogue editorial for posterity. The issue in which it appeared was astonishingly hateful towards plus-size women (even for a straight-size fashion glossy). But here, removed from its negative context, it can deliver a positive message, rather that functioning as "bait" to lure full-figured women into buying an anti-plus magazine. These tear sheets are also important because they are perhaps the only editorial examples of a plus-size model adorned in the "new femininity" of the Spring/Summer 2004 fashion season.
Other new images include the following tear sheet from an unidentified source, which is really quite marvellous, especially in terms of setting. It shows Crystal in the midst of what looks like the primeval forest of Old Europe--Little Red Riding Hood surrounded by towering evergreens, with a shaft of sunlight illuminating her face.
And here are two utterly stunning tears from The Knot bridal magazine, Winter 2003/2004, which literally took our breath away when we first saw them:
Could any editorial layout be more appropriate for a plus-size goddess? The lush setting, the strapless gown, the soft cushions, the "measured messiness" of the model's hairstyle--everything about these pages evokes the "twenty-first century opulence" that compliments plus-size beauty so well.
"Heavenly touch," indeed. Mortality holds few terrors, if the afterlife looks anything like this.
Crystal also steals the show in the current Lane Bryant campaign, and if LB produces any stylish full-size ads featuring Miss Renn, we will be happy to add those to her page.
In the meantime, here is the model's first collection of images. We eagerly look forward to more . . .
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