Plus-size model Crystal Renn fights back from falling under the Photoshop scalpel


Sometimes I wonder if some people in the fashion industry are actively evil, actively idiotic or just acting on autopilot. How else, really, can you explain when a photographer Photoshops one of the world’s most famous plus-size models to be almost unrecognizably thin? But that is, indeed, what happened to Crystal Renn earlier this month.

You see, Renn, who is well-known throughout the industry as one of the most successful plus-size models working today, appeared in a photoshoot for the Fashion for Passion tank top charity campaign looking like she had lost a considerable amount of weight.

The 24-year-old model, who started working when she was 14, famously battled anorexia for years in her early career. So seeing her suddenly lose weight was shocking and worrisome to many. Except she hadn’t. As Crystal revealed to Glamour magazine, she was just as surprised to see herself looking that way.

Well, I was shocked. When I saw the pictures, I think I was silent for a good five minutes, staring with my mouth open. I don’t know what was done to those photos or who did it, but they look retouched to me. And listen, everybody retouches, but don’t make me into something I’m not.

Glamour contacted the photographer and Fashion for Passion founder Nicholas Routzen who said that Crystal looked thinner because the photos were “…taken from a higher angle with a wider lens,” but that “I shaped her … I did nothing that I wouldn’t do to anyone. I’m paid to make women look beautiful.”Caption: Crystal untouched (left), Crystal retouched (right).

So, what he is saying is that Crystal at her actual weight is not beautiful, but Crystal with thighs almost half their actual size is gorgeous. Whatever, dude. Considering Crystal’s stature in the industry (she has walked the runways for Jean Paul Gaultier and Chanel) it seems ludicrous that someone would Photoshop her so severely. Is it sheer stupidity, or are fashion photographers and editors just on autopilot? Do they look at every picture, every woman and only see imperfections that will keep them from selling more of their clothes, shoes, makeup, perfume, jewelry, handbags and everything else?

Because when I look at Crystal as is, I’d buy whatever she is selling. In fact, I’m jealous of that piece of notebook paper as we speak. But it’s not just how Crystal looks that has me impressed, but how she thinks. An outspoken proponent of inclusiveness in the fashion industry, she published her memoir, Hungry: A Young Model’s Story of Appetite, Ambition and the Ultimate Embrace of Curve, last fall. Crystal told Glamour what worries her most about the retouched pictures was the message they send.

That was a huge fear for me. I thought, "People are going to think that I’m sick — and maybe a girl who’s suffering from an eating disorder sees a picture like this and gives up hope." People who have followed my story and heard my voice might think I’ve turned my back on that, and that it’s only beautiful to be thin. They’re not going to know where I stand right now, and I understand that. Because if I were in their shoes looking at this picture, I would be disturbed. I would absolutely be disturbed.

Instead she said she wants girl to know they don’t have to be thin to be respected. As she said, “I starved myself to be successful, when in fact my real success only came when I became more confident.”

So listen up, photographers, editors, artists, and the like, turn off your autopilots and turn on your brains. You can’t actually fool us when it comes to Crystal, or any other model you’ve made impossibly, unrealistically thin. We’re on to you; we’re paying attention. Women come is so many beautiful shapes and sizes. We’ve tried your way for years, now let’s try Crystal’s way.

Right now, you might see a runway show with all these girls who are size twos, and then one who’s a size 16 — that means you really notice size. Well, imagine you see a runway show where you see all different types: petite, tall, black, white, Asian, everybody’s in there. You’re just going to see beautiful women. There’d be no more weight debate. It’s done. That’s my vision for this industry. I guess you could say it’s quite grandiose, but I don’t care. I have to believe that what I say matters.

Can I get an amen?

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