Yet, despite all of her success, the size 10 model has been criticized not for being too big for the industry, but for losing weight and becoming too small. Some of the complaints, the model says in a new interview with Glamour, stem from a heavily Photoshopped image floating around the web (see it here).
In a StyleList exclusive, Renn shares her thoughts on the weighty issue, posing for Gaultier, and wanting to design a plus-size fashion line. (Fingers crossed!)
StyleList: First off, you are one of the new faces of Jean Paul Gaultier! How excited are you?
Crystal Renn: Being a part of this campaign is not just a highlight in my career, but in my life. The ad is the perfect example of diversity in the fashion industry and should be an example to all about how to proceed forward and make change.
SL: Over the past few weeks you've made headlines for losing weight. What's your take?
CR: I feel a lot of it was speculation as opposed to fact. In a way, I am relieved it was me because I have been recovered [from anorexia] for over seven years now. If it was someone not in recovery that long, it could have had a damaging effect. My fear is that people don't know where I stand right now, but they should feel reassured that I am taking care of myself and am very happy. I am a size 10. My weight loss is due to body adjustment because of working out after a seven-year hiatus.
SL: Is that what you attribute the weight loss to?
CR: It started with stress. Then, to take care of the stress, I went hiking in Patagonia for three weeks. Since then, I have continued hiking and have established a regular yoga and meditation program.
SL: Does the criticism make you want to add a few pounds?
CR: Absolutely not, because that would be counter to anything I have said in the past about conforming your body to societal standards. Just like anyone, I feel pressure; but ultimately, I have to do what is right for my health.
SL: Do you wish the topic of your weight would go away?
CR: I enjoy talking about these issues because it is my passion. I have lived an experience that changed me, and along the way I learned a lot about who I am. I would not take back my experience with anorexia, because when I was recovering and looking back over what I had been through, instead of the usual hate and obsession with my imperfections, I found gratitude and awe for all that my body can do. I learned a lot at a young age [about] an issue that could have plagued my whole life, but I didn't let it, and decided to tell others, to hopefully help them. Maybe save them the time.
SL: Has being vocal about your size [Renn penned "Hungry: A Young Model's Story of Appetite, Ambition, and the Ultimate Embrace of Curves" last year] opened you up to more scrutiny than other models?
CR: Definitely, and I expected it. I wrote my book to bring awareness to this issue and hopefully get the reader to ask bigger questions. Is it fair? When it is about change within the industry, and the conversation will improve that situation, then I am pleased.
But monitoring my weight and whether I gained or lost five pounds is not necessary, and [it's] possibly detrimental to what I am trying to do. It keeps the focus on a number and supports extremes, and what I ultimately want to see is freedom for models to find health so we can start seeing diversity in fashion. This is not about being a plus-size model. It's about taking that term away and allowing not only models but also women to just be, and to be OK with that.
SL: What's next for you?
CR: I would love to design a plus-size line. Having spent many years working with different stylists and models with different body types, and seeing different fabrics and silhouettes on those different body types, I feel a project like that would be a natural next step for me.
I love writing and want to exercise that interest by writing in any form, whether that is another book, blogging, or through other means. A goal for me would [also] be to represent a makeup brand because that would be a really positive message to women, that beauty doesn't mean conformity.
What I know for sure is that I want to continue modeling, striving always to be the best that I can, while also speaking my message to others [and] hopefully bringing change.
What to hear more from this inspiring model? Read her take on the controversial term "plus-size."