As I work on this business plan I have to write for my Entrepreneurship class, I thought I’d take a break and tell you about a book I just finished. I’ve made it clear on this blog that I think Crystal Renn is a great example of being true to yourself and still being very successful in an industry that you don’t completely fit in. I saw it in the culinary industry with women in a kitchen full of men and now there’s Renn, a beautiful “plus-size” model who’s gaining a reputation of showing the public that fashion can be for all sizes and shapes.
So for this blog and for my personal enjoyment, I got Renn’s newly released autobiography, Hungry. I love to read and why not read a true story about someone in the fashion industry as I look at it myself. Unfortunately with other class readings, reading books is often hard during the semester, but I treated it like a class reading and was also able to finish it while I was in NYC. Let me tell you, it was a great read!
Now I might be biased since I have read some pieces by Renn and like her attitude, but whether you like the person or not, I feel like autobiographies can give you a larger perspective about where they’re coming from and how they’ve made the decisions they have made.
I feel I must say as a warning that some of the book could be triggering to those either with an eating disorder or who are recovering. Not because she glamorizes or talks about the disorder in a good way, but there are a few pictures of how thin she got and she does talk about some of her practices she had while she was sick like only eating certain foods and exercising for x hours. If you do not feel like you can read those kinds of things, please don’t. There’s no reason to harm yourself over it.
On the other hand, this book brings a positive light to an industry that normally gets torn apart because of its practices. Yes, Renn was very thin and sick when she worked with “The Agency,” what she calls the original agency she worked with; however when she couldn’t take it anymore (and while the agents were telling her she was too fat), another agent saved her by suggesting the “plus-size” world. Putting her mental and physical health first, this agent put her in contact with Tom Ford of Ford Models where at one look, he wanted her. He set her up in the model apartment and allowed her to get better and healthy again before getting her spreads. Since then, her modeling career has skyrocketed. She’s a size 12 now.
Reading her story was very inspirational, not just if you want to break into modeling, but as a story in general. While eating disorders are prevalent and can be deadly, there’s also help and hope for a full recovery if you want it. It’s a hard decision to want it- I wanted to get better knowing what I was doing was wrong, but I still had to hit rock bottom before that happened…twice- but it can be done. She’s happy. She’s healthy. She’s successful. What more could you want?
She was in Jean-Paul Gaultier’s runway show in a dress he made specifically for her in October 2005. She’s been in Teen Vogue, American Vogue, Italian Vogue, French Vogue, Italian Vanity Fair, Italian Elle, CosmoGirl, Glamour, Russian Harper’s Bazaar, V, Lane Bryant, Nine West. She’s also done ads for Dolce & Gabbana and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation among others. Should I keep going?
But don’t read that and think, “Wow, I couldn’t do that!” Because you can! When she started at Ford, plus-size models only did modeling in catalog pages, but she still wanted to do covers and editorial so she got out there to as many shoots that would allow her to do so. She did it. She’s slowly changed the industry because she wanted a piece of it for her career. If you want it, go get it!
Life’s hard and everyone has a story. There were parts of hers that resounding in my own and others that didn’t, but which I could respect. A quote from Plato that she added and I loved was, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” How true! But as her last chapter is titled, real is the new black. We unfortunately live in a society where if you’re considered too thin, you get mocked and if you’re considered too big, you get mocked. So what’s ok? You ARE!
I hope Renn continues to do well in her career and help our soceity’s view of beauty change slowly to excepting diversity not just in color, but in size. A trend lately has been just to put her along side of other “straight-size” models or alone in editorial of magazines without any title relating to size of shape. I love this and hope it continues.
My dream would be to meet her or even work with her in a campaign to promote diversity in size and shape much like the Italian ad I talked about a few weeks ago. On the other hand, I think not focusing on any size is the way we need to go so it’d have to be done in such a way. We’ll see… In the meantime, if you want to learn about both modeling industries and how you can still stay healthy in the industry, read Hungry 🙂
Have you read any autobiographies lately? Who?
PS: If there are any other models out there who’d like to share your story on here, please let me know. I’d love to showcase it 🙂