To Top

Is Crystal “Reign” Within The Plus Size Industry, Over?

Twitter, Facebook and my inbox were lit on fire last night over the new pictures of Crystal Renn’s photo shoot for the organization, Fashion for Passion. The Ford Models blog proudly displays pictures where she is clearly, the thinnest we have ever seen.

Over the last few month’s the debate over Crystal’s weight, size and overall appearance has been brought up numerous times on blogs, magazines and certainly among ourselves. I know that reports stated, she went hiking and lost some weight but these pictures show her way smaller than I have ever seen her before.

It’s no secret that many of today’s most successful plus size models are not “plus size women”, but where is the line going to be drawn exactly? Size 4, 6….? We’ve seen working plus size models go from size 18 (years ago) to size 10. Are size 6 and 8 models going to be considered plus size models?

I’ve heard from working models that some of our very own retailers are asking for smaller plus size models. We can’t fault the models because its a business and in order for them to work, they have to fit into the clothing. So then, what does it say about these plus size retailers that are selling clothing for “us” but are not willing to use a size 14 model anymore? What is going on?

As the Editor of a magazine that celebrates the plus size industry, it’s my job and pleasure to uplift us all, and celebrate all the wonderful things about it, including the modeling industry, which I adore. I guess I’m feeling a bit confused and insulted at this point. If Crystal Renn is going straight size, then I’m happy for her if that is what she wants to do, but make way for the curvy models that truly represent the plus size woman. That is who we want to see! Look at the uproar over Tara Lynn!!!!

I’m eager to hear your thoughts… If you are a designer or retailer.. please share your thoughts… If Crystal is photo shopped to look this thin, hmmm bad move, if all you do is “kiss up” to people to get what you want – move on, this post is not for you and if you are insulted by my post, let’s agree to disagree. I’m not looking down on Crystal, Ford or anyone else, but this is a discussion that needs to be had and if I’m dead wrong then I need to be enlightened.

Warm Regards,

Madeline Figueroa Jones


PLUS Model Magazine


  1. Allie McGevna

    July 2, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    I have such mixed feelings on this story and I think you hits the nail right on the head. The hiking in Patagonia story did seem a little fishy to be honest after the Glamour cover. I’m happy for her if this is how she wants to look. I think that the plus empowerment movement is all about being the woman you want to be and being accepted for that – whatever the size reads.

    But on that note, I’d really ask her to please move aside and stop taking jobs from women who really are proud to be curvy.

    I understand women feeling deceived. Crystal is a pioneer for so many of us who look up to her for what she did for the industry and came to accept herself. But there is a lot of pressure in this business and when you start to get some fame and it seems to me she was still a little weak in her self esteem and gave in to losing weight. Who knows, maybe she was never really as comfortable being plus as she said. We have to remember how young she is too. I think her actions now are a little in contradiction w her book’s message – but being a woman is complicated and hard and I can’t fault her for changing her mind about how she wants to look.

    The only way I will really be mad at her actions is if she keeps taking jobs and marketing herself as plus. Then she is no better than every single person who ever called her fat bc really, the voice in her head apparently agreed with them.

    Nice work Maddy, I’m glad you wrote about this.

  2. TigeressKitten

    July 2, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Wow! If she really is this thin then she really shouldnt be considered a plus size model. I think its great for her if shes happy with her weight loss but to lable a average size woman plus size is discurraging because thats exactly the “you can never be skinny enough and the average us woman is obesse” talk that the community is trying to make people aware of and to make people get over in order to make us more size accepting and have a healthy view of our own body immage. This is the type of talk that has gals who are half my size complaining about their weight and saying they have to much pudge (right in my face to) while Im standing their going “Girl, your little. Do you think Im the size of a house or something cause if your fat Im like twice that.” and their always like “Well your fine how you are” and Im like, then take a better look at yourself cause your half my size and you do have a waistline dispite what your twisted view of yourself plus even if you where fat your still a beautiful sexy woman!

  3. MC

    July 2, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    I used to work for a plus size catalog retailer and was told that the reason why we don’t use plus size models (ours were like a size 8) is because that is what customers want. Apparently, focus groups were done where customers were shown photos with a size 18 model and ones with a size 6/8. The customers preferred the 6/8 model. I was shocked. I was the only plus size person on the team (I’m a 26/28) and continued to voice my opinion on the issue.

    Later, when I moved over to another brand, my new boss wanted to try something new with a denim spread we were working on…she wanted to use a size 18 model topless, just wearing the jeans. The photos were cropped so that she was shown below the breast….rolls were showing, no photoshopping. Other depts told us we were crazy, that it would not work. Well, it was one of our most successful email and web campaigns ever. I think we are making strides in plus size modeling but then I hear about the Crystal Renn’s of the world and wonder if we truly are. For someone who spoke so passionately about her size, I am confused as well.

    I do think that online outlets such as Plus Model Magazine can help immensely in making more strides so while we are confused, we have to remain positive and keep pushing forward…we have to continue to show the world what “plus size” truly is. Hopefully, on a personal note, I hope we will find out soon what the heck is going on with Crystal Renn. I hope she is okay.

  4. MC

    July 2, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Wanted to add that I meant to say in the second line (ours was a size “8”)…..pls edit, thanks!! I guess when you put an 8 and a ), it’s code for a smiley, lol.

  5. JoAnna

    July 2, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    I think we need to consider the difference between modeling plus sized and retail plus sized. For the modeling industry anyone above a size 10 is considered “plus” however in retail, plus sizes begin at size 14. If you take a model, who is most likely around 5’9, and a size 10, she will still not be an accurate representation of the plus women out there. I think it’s just an easy way for agencies to seem progressive in this debate because they can technically say they are using plus sized models without having the push the envelope too far.

  6. suzette

    July 2, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Crystal Renn has honed her talents as a model in the plus community, she’s young enough to cross over and make a living as a straight size model. I hope however she has lost the weight, she did it in a healthy way.

    That being said, I hope I don’t see her image for now used for any of the plus size retailers. It would be insulting to the consumer, and I will not contribute to their bottom line. Size 12 may be considered plus sized, but I’m sure you won’t find many size 12 women shopping in Lane Bryant and Ashley Stewart when they can go shopping in a variety of other stores that include their size. These retailers as well as the on-line ones should value their consumer base by hiring models that represent a confident, full figured woman. When i walk into the stores I love to see an authentic full figured woman photographed wearing an outfit that makes me say “Hmmm, that style looks great on HER, my hips and thighs are full like hers, so let me try that on!”

  7. N.K. Gutiérrez

    July 2, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Well, this most certainly is not the smallest I have ever seen Crystal, as she did start out as a straight model. However, I continued to be confused at what the plus size world is truly looking for in a model to represent their lines. I personally am a size 12/14 plus model who was once a 16/18, and have been dropped by various vendors for being/becoming too small. On one hand I think it is unfortunate that women are punished for getting healthy if they become more health conscious while representing the plus world. On the other hand, I sit perplexed at the thought that we encourage one another to stay beyond our healthiest size and buy in to the idea that being morbidly obease should be a part of pop-culture. I have grown up thick in a curvy, Mexican family. I appreciate the fact that beauty comes in all sizes, but I cannot get behind this idea that I have been seeing more and more, that being unfit and inactive is an acceptable way of life.

    Madeline, I do agree that Crystal is not a representation of all things curvy in this particular set of photos, but in all honesty I believe that there is a difference between a “normal” sized women and a straight model. And while Crystal still does not seem small enough to travel that road again, I believe we have to ask ourselves, “How far has the industry really come if we consider a 10, which is below the size of the average American, to be Plus in the first place????”

  8. PLUS Model Magazine

    July 2, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Is Crystal “Reign” Within The Plus Size
    Industry, Over?

  9. Nikeya Young

    July 2, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    Oh WOW!!! Maddy, I don’t think you’re wrong at ALL! However, it is likely that she could have been photoshopped to look this small. Crystal has gone from Plus Size, to “full-figured”, to… Straight size? She’s still an awesome model no matter what size she is. However, for her to continue to represent “plus size” women would be like me being Miss Plus America Elite at a size 6! Yes, I too am confused.

  10. Maddy

    July 2, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    I’m very aware of what the modeling industry sees as plus size models, as I have been a model myself and work with models both agency represented and freelance models for PLUS.

    My first issue is that weight loss does not mean becoming healthier just like being a bigger girl does not mean you are home eating cheese puffs watching TV. Crystal herself told the audience at the DATELINE taping that she has a friend that is a size 18 and runs circles around her and eats BETTER than her and still does not lose weight.

    Models can’t make these decisions on their own. I don’t blame her at all. I think there is a lot more to this than meets the eye. Especially after seeing the response her agent put out. If a model wants to change the color of her hair she has have this move pre approved!

    Now taking HEALTH out of it, lets not go down the line and give a physical to all the size 0 and 00 on the catwalks, but the plus size industry = money. The plus size woman has money to spend and likes to look and feel good. The reason why we liked Crystal to begin with, was because she was a plus size model that was edgy and was representing for the industry. Not that she was ever a size 20 or anything but she was visibly bigger than the straight size model.

    Plus size models are not always plus size women and I get that, but getting smaller and smaller is just not acceptable to me. At the end of the day they are selling to curvy, plus size, fat girls… and we don’t ALL want to lose weight to fit in and we are not ALL unhealthy.

    As an industry we have to take a stand somewhere, if not, there will be no plus size modeling division or industry to speak of and all models will be size 00 to 10!

  11. SonsiWoman

    July 2, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    RT @Plusmodelmag: Is Crystal “Reign” Within The Plus Size
    Industry, Over?

  12. Rachel

    July 2, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    RT @Plusmodelmag: Is Crystal “Reign” Within The Plus Size Industry, Over? *I would say so.*

  13. Ali Turner

    July 2, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    In those picture’s she’s definitely not plus and I wouldn’t expect any plus size retailer to choose her for their shoots. However, I think you have to bear in mind that you don’t always know what size the model is going to be when she turns up. Some models fluctuate a lot and you never really know what you’re going to get – but if she turned up to one of my plus-size shoots like that, I’d be included to turn her away.

  14. Caralyn Mirand

    July 2, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    RT @Plusmodelmag: Is Crystal “Reign” Within The Plus Size
    Industry, Over?

  15. Nikeya Young

    July 2, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    Maddy you are right about that! Leave it to agencies & they will phase out anything above a size 12!

  16. Otis Jones

    July 3, 2010 at 1:07 am

    Is Crystal "Reign" Within The Plus Size Industry, Over? — PLUS …: Twitter, Facebook and my inbox were lit on fir…

  17. Angel

    July 4, 2010 at 2:07 am

    I’m saddened to see Crystal Renn is starving herself again. She has stated before that being thin isn’t her natural body type and that she basically had to starve herself thin. She must be doing this again. Perhaps the industry pressure for severe thinness is becoming too much for her and she’s giving in again. Very, very sad.

  18. Holly

    July 6, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    As far as I am concerned, she is now a part of the mainstream model scene and is no longer an accurate representation of being plush sized in my eyes. That’s not to say I’m not happy for her, but on a professional level, she doesn’t speak for me as is. She doesn’t represent who I am anymore.

  19. Velvet d'Amour

    July 7, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    I think the question is less about Crystal, and more about the fact that while we are globally millions strong, we have, more or less, just one individual who has made her way into the mainstream magazines. Her weight fluctuations are dramatic, and they are all her own. As I have always been on the far extreme end of ‘plus’ modeling, people would equally debate my status as a ‘plus’ model, stating I was a “bbw”, not a plus model.
    Its less about the label, and more about infiltration. We need to push for media inclusion, so that all shapes and sizes etc ‘belong’. When the media excludes us to such an extreme, magazines like PLUS are what get started. Models make their own way, and people who haven’t the ‘right’ to be considered a ‘plus’ model, or a straight size model, etc pick up the camera and start their own revolution. If we can use the frustration our exodus encites in a positive manner, then there will be no stopping us, and there will be so many damn fat models getting thin and thin models getting fat, that we wont have time to debate it, because we will be on the way to our next shooting ;o)

  20. PLUS Model Magazine

    July 7, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    @mcbc Here is my blog post that pretty much sums it up.

  21. Catherine

    July 8, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    As a plus size retailer, I only use models size 14+. Surprisingly, we see a clear difference in the way clothing sells on a size 14 model vs a size 18 model. That said, how is a woman supposed to know what clothes are going to look like if they are shown pinned onto a size 8 or 10??

    As for Crystal, I hope she is not relapsing back into her anorexia. Giving her the benefit of the doubt, even with the atrocious lighting in these pics she still looks a heck of a lot healthier than she did as a straight size model when she was younger.

  22. anonymous

    January 17, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    I worked with her a few times for a plus client. It was a few years ago. She said that she forced herself to gain weight when she had a plus modeling job coming up and then dieted to be the size she really wanted to be in between bookings. She said she was embarrassed for the clients and other models she worked with in the past as a straight size model to she her or photos of her being heavier. She was about a size 10 that week, she is on the shorter side for a plus model so she can look fuller than she actually is in photos. I don’t know what reaction she was looking for from me, I was baffled. I just said “you either want the job of being a plus model or you don’t. Do you expect clients to pay you top dollar and then hide your photos from the public?” Needless to say, she was not looking for that response. I guess she wanted sympathy that she was embarrassed to be a plus size model. I was so thankful for having the job and happy at a size 14 that I was actually really offended.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Modeling