I was so excited when I saw Crystal Renn walking at the Gottex fashion show in New York I almost jumped out of my seat. Partly my reaction was my dorky reflex when spotting any celebrity — I get excited. What can I say, I live in San Francisco and it doesn’t happen very often. Second, I thought it was pretty exciting that Gottex chose to cast a “plus” model in a swimwear runway show. When she was 14, Renn lost nearly a third of her body weight to become a model, and battled with anorexia and compulsive exercising. Several years later she embraced her natural curves, switched to Ford modeling agency and re-emerged as a plus-size model. She published the book Hungry in 2009.
But at the Gottex show, as I stared directly at Renn’s bare thighs — I was in the second row — I realized she is certainly not very “plus” these days. Had I not known who she was, I’m not sure I would have batted an eye. And I got a little mad at her for losing weight! Isn’t that obnoxious of me? I guess I really wanted to see a woman with actual flesh and maybe a little cellulite walk down a runway at an official Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week runway show, in a bathing suit. Just to know that attitudes really are changing. And that cellulite doesn’t mean I’ll soon be old, alone and unloved.
I’m sure she’ll be relieved to know that I quickly forgave her. At some shows, I saw protruding hips, shoulders and collar bones that had me concerned. While Renn had lost weight, her bones remained covered with a healthy amount of flesh. I think I may have even seen a stretch mark, but I had to squint. Bottom line, she looked like a healthy, beautiful young woman.
So I wasn’t sure whether to hand it to the casting agency (Maida & Rami) for choosing Renn for Gottex. If she had been heavier at the time, would she have been picked? Then again, the fact that she didn’t look specifically plus-sized and walked with the likes of Victoria’s Secret model Karolina Kurkova (whose stomach was impossibly flat after having a baby) perhaps makes even more of a statement. The traditionally skinny and fleshier models don’t often share the same turf without a big fuss being made about it by media and marketers. The more often they walk side-by-side sans hubbub, perhaps the closer we’re getting to Renn’s wish for doing away with the “plus” label and the notion that a size 0 models are the norm.