Crystal Renn shows us how to be big in fashion – shed weight and start whingeing
If I had a quid for every time someone in the fashion industry moaned about body image, I could buy out a designer department store, says Bryony Gordon.
Just when you thought that the tedious "size zero" debate had been starved of all life, crushed under a Louboutin-clad foot and kicked off the catwalk for being so last season (or so the season before that), up pops some clothes horse to whinge about the pressure she feels over her body. Except this one has done it with a twist. Crystal Renn, once the world's most famous plus-size model (a bit like being the world's most famous tiddlywinks player), has lost loads of weight and feels vilified by people who are accusing her of selling out. Incredibly, she feels under pressure to be fat.
Had her modelling agency tried to get her to lose weight? No, she said, in a video interview for her, err, modelling agency's website. "Where do I feel pressure? Probably more than any place from the public. And the media." Good girl, Crystal: if in doubt, blame the media.
Anyway, Crystal wasn't always "plus-size"; sadly, she was once a size zero anorexic who lived on chewing gum and lettuce leaves. She wrote about it a year or so ago in a heavily publicised book called Hungry. She detailed the diuretics, the gym work, the horrid ritual of swishing peanut butter around her mouth before spitting it out. She said it was very difficult being 95lbs when she's "naturally more like 175lbs".
Well Crystal's a lot less than 175lbs now, but I'm not judging her. She can chew on cake, tissue paper or her own arm if she likes. Here's the issue I have with Crystal Renn: the woman is now claiming that to live up to the expectations the public and the media put on her, she would "have to have another eating disorder": one that involves binge eating. We are to blame for the demons in Crystal's head. Not the modelling agencies, or the fashion designers, or the glossy magazine editors. Us.
If I had a quid for every time someone in the fashion industry moaned about body image, I could buy out a designer department store. Except I probably wouldn't fit in to any of their clothes. And if I did fit in them, I would be considered plus-size, simply because I have boobs, a bit of a belly, and a bum. And yet it now seems that us normal women are to blame for the ills of the fashion world, because we once had the temerity to ask why designers used "models" who looked like they had just escaped from death camps.
Still, that's a neat trick Crystal's pulled there, flipping the size zero argument on its head. As we make our slow progress through another flurry of fashion weeks, it seems that the whole debate has moved on anyway. Because if you really want to make it big in modelling, you don't need to lose weight, just change sex. Yes, the two biggest female models of the moment, Lea T and Andrej Pejic, are actually men. Fashion: completely loopy and best ignored, until the day it eventually decides to eat itself.