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If that’s a plus size, then sign me up.

November 22, 2010

L-A: I’m stepping into territory that can be categorized as follows: “too effing easy” and “done to death”.  Through Elle Canada’s facebook page I ended up on Coco Perez reading about Crystal Renn’s recent photo spread in Harper’s Bazaar. I have little time for that Perez fellow, so I’m a little ashamed to say it got me onto a post topic for today. Anyway, the Perez fellow muses about whether Crystal Renn should still be considered a plus sized model:

nice wedges.


To be fair, Harper’s Bazaar has not hired the model to be a token plus sized girl in a token “beauty at any size” sort of issue. They’ve just hired her to model some of the Resort 2011 collection (which I like. Especially those Chloé wedges).  Crystal Renn is just known for her size issues: after being discovered as a model and told to drop over 1/3 of her body weight and she did so. Eventually, she gained back 70 pounds and at a size 12, was considered plus size. She’s written about this. Before we carry on, for comparison, let’s look at Renn in a 2006 Gaultier show:


The questions of, “is Renn still plus sized?” have been floating around the interwebz since the Harper’s spread was released. And here are my answers to the question:

  1. probably not.
  2. who the fuck cares.
  3. she’s not super model skinny, but she looks good, so that’s okay.

What I like is that even though she is bigger than your average model (she’s somewhere between a size 8 and 10 right now, according to her agent), she was hired to do the work of your average model. That’s what really sticks in my craw about the plus sized models: they’re hired for only plus sized work. And when they’re hired for anything other than that, we get all “oooh! look how good we are! we accept bigger sizes!”

I’m not saying no to the skinny model, I’m just saying good job for hiring the non-skinny-but-still-kind-of-skinny model.  More importantly, maybe we can stop asking if a model is plus sized or not. Because when we ask that, we question why she is the size she is and we keep focusing on size in terms of good size and bad size. And there shouldn’t be good size/bad size. There should be healthy size. And healthy sizes should include skinny and not skinny, and healthy can include some weight gain and some weight loss.

And that’s my take on a subject that already has a million takes on it. My apologies for beating a dead horse. (also, apologies if this didn’t make a whole lot of sense. I’m on the sudafed today).

Ally: It’s first thing Monday morning and I’m running behind. I feel as though this post needs significant thought, and not a “What L-A said”. That’s how I feel though. What L-A said. Interested in hearing what readers think.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Eden permalink
    November 22, 2010 9:36 am

    YES oh man you said it so well! I have been trying to figure out how to put the whole “it’s not that thin is bad it’s that WHY IS THE WHOLE THING EVEN A THING” without resorting to all caps and unintelligibility.

  2. November 22, 2010 9:38 am

    I totally agree. I remember Tyra Banks mentioning something sort of about this on a Cycle of ANTM once – how it sucks that in-between girls don’t get work. Models are either told to drop weight to be “real” models, or told not to lose anymore weight or they won’t be able to book plus-sized jobs. As someone who is not a size two, but also wouldn’t be described as plus-sized, I love seeing models who are that size booked for normal jobs that aren’t all about “celebrating your curves” or some crap.

  3. Eden permalink
    November 22, 2010 9:39 am

    Although I do want to say I’m wary of the whole “healthy size” thing. Just because I don’t think health should be a job requirement and also what does healthy even mean.

    • allygarbs permalink*
      November 22, 2010 9:58 am

      Hmm. Interesting. Why don’t you think health should be a job requirement in the modelling industry? Not that I disagree…I’m not sure where my head is on that one. It’s tricky. The industry is an incredible trigger for young girls who are dealing with eating disorders.

      • Eden permalink
        November 22, 2010 7:20 pm

        Because how do we determine health? What if a model has a heart condition, or epilepsy, or IBS, or depression? There’s no benchmark for health, it’s arbitrary.

        I feel like the actual health of the actual women working at their jobs as models isn’t the point. The point is image, and what L-A said really rings true – the ideal is for models to be a wide range of sizes and for that not to be a big deal. Because fashion is about aesthetics, and Crystal Renn looks goddamn amazing at every size she’s been, and THAT is the point.

    • L-A permalink*
      November 23, 2010 8:47 am

      I think that maybe “healthy” was the wrong word choice. I don’t think we should be quizzing people on whether they have other health conditions. My thinking is more along the lines of, they should be allowed to be healthy at whatever size is best for them. Because it’s unhealthy to ask a girl like Crystal Renn to drop 1/3 of her body weight and then to call her plus sized when she clearly not.

      However, you’re right, my real point (through my sudafed fog) was that her size is not a big deal here. It isn’t a thing. Nor should it be, considering she’s not plus sized at all. I know there are probably a dozen and a half reasons why designers and the fashion industry use models of a certain size, but as a woman who is neither that size nor plus size (I am in size limbo!), it’s nice to see that a model who is a size 8-10 get work that’s work, not work that’s token plus size day. I just need everyone else to get on board and stop questioning whether she’s plus size or not.

  4. Allene! permalink
    November 23, 2010 1:27 am

    I agree, L-A! I’ve read Crystal Renn’s book (which is mostly quite interesting) and her hope is that one day the modelling industry will just allow all sizes of women to model fashion, and not make it “a thing”, as Eden puts it. I absolutely adore seeing “plus-sized” women in super glammed-up photo shoots, but it does rub me the wrong way that the magazines then wave their arms around, shouting, “look! look! bigger ladies! it’s so weird!”

    Anyway. Yes. I don’t care if Crystal is still a plus sized model or whatever. Human beings gain and lose weight as their lives progress, that’s just how it works, right?

    • L-A permalink*
      November 23, 2010 8:51 am

      I figure they have those “look! bigger ladies!” photo spreads so we can all feel better about how we aren’t using them the rest of the time.

      And she definitely shouldn’t have to justify her weight loss/gains. It totally happens. We let a few pounds on and then we decide we need to lose a few in order for our pants to fit again. Totally normal. Of course, her situation is made infinitely weirder because the whole point of her job is to show off her body, but still, hooray for it not being a thing this time.

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