Beauty & Body Image, Crystal Renn

Crystal Renn Wants Designers to Change Sample Sizes to an 8 Instead of a 2



Crystal Renn, the former plus-size model who wrote a book that documented her weight journey as a model from a size 0 to a size 14 recently opened to the press about body image in the fashion world and suggested the designers to change same sizes from 2 to an 8 – here’s the full story from Radar:

Each of the models present shared compelling personal stories about their struggles with weight and body image in the modeling industry. Amy Lemons said that when her body started changing at 17, her agent recommended eating just one rice cake a day, and if that didn’t work, cutting back to only half of one. Katherine Schuette, who also studied nutrition, stopped eating even though she knew the dangers. “I knew down to the chemistry what was happening to my body when I tried to get to that size [0],” she shared.

It was Crystal Renn, who has publicly shared her struggles with eating disorders in her book Hungry, who spoke most passionately about the subject. After being signed by a model scout who told her to lose ten inches from her waist and advised her to look to Vogue for standards of what she should look like, Renn entered into years of obsessive dieting and exercise to get down to a frightening 95 lbs. “What I found,” Renn said of that time, “is that I felt nothing except hatred for myself.

And the problem isn’t just with model agents; Ashley Mears says the problem lies much more in the editorial side of the industry. Chris Gay agreed, expressing frustration with industry standards set by designers and editors that he deemed ridiculous. “They’re not standards a woman can keep through her life or her career,” May said. “You’re replacing good models with new models because of unrealistic standards…”

Renn’s suggestion, which seems almost painfully obvious in its simplicity, is for designers to change the sample size to a size 8. She argues this could accommodate bodies between sizes 6 and 10, or tailored down to a size 0 if the designer wanted to hire a girl that thin. Renn posited that some designers feel pressured to keep their sample sizes small because that’s what industry leaders are doing–she of course made an exception for close friend Zac Posen.

“There are some people who lead,” Renn said of the designer’s attempts to diversify his runway, “and Zac Posen is one of those people.”

What do you think of Crystal’s thoughts?

See more 2012 shots of her next!

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  • mary

    well that will never happen…she looks frightening with that blonde hair, my god

    • Lex

      Well, I hope it doesn’t happen! I save myself lots of money buying at sample sales and I’m very small!
      Now, if they stop insisting that models be nearly 6ft tall they could keep the size 2 sizes and have no problem. But they will NEVER hire shorter girls.

  • Megan

    Or they could keep the size 2 & hire non-5’10 women ;P

    srs, I did really like the size 6 glamazons. Not a thing wrong with the way they looked. Vibrant, healthy, fit >>> weak, underweight & bony

    But Crystal Renn is a TERRIBLE model. If it weren’t for her weight yo-yos, she’d get no press. The Jessica Simpson of modeling.

    • Cal

      I too loved the Linda’s and Cindy’s, at least have models with some muscle, not the weak models like snejana. Crystal renn has become very annoying and without the weight drama she would never be known.

  • Lauren

    I never understand how she became a model, her face is harsh and scary

  • I think a size 8 might be a bit unrealistic for the fashion industry – maybe changing the sample size to a 4 is a better idea. I’d just like to see more diversity. I don’t think it’s right to shame size 0 because some women are naturally that thin – but for it to be the norm in high fashion is ridiculous, especially for women who are 5’9″+. It’s wrong to make any one size the ideal that all models and women should fit – there is no one size or body type that is universally attainable and attractive, after all.

    I think one of the biggest problems for the industry is the idealisation of barely post-pubescent female figures – once a young model grows into her frame, she can easily get ‘too big’ because she no longer has the lanky, slightly awkward and more androgynous figure she had when she was ‘discovered’ at age 14 or whatever. Women do come in all shapes and sizes and that should be celebrated, but generally women have some boobs and hips and some fat on their thighs and the high fashion industry strives to minimise all of that and keep women looking more like girls. That to me is more of an issue – raising the age of models to 17+ would be more positive than raising the sample dress size. Protecting young girls from the pressures and pitfalls of the industry – there are many horror stories out there beyond being told to starve – seems very important to me.

    What size is Crystal Renn now anyway? She looks smaller than an 8 to me – more like a 4. I’ve never found her very appealing – but she does look better at this size than when she was heavy, imo. She certainly doesn’t look too thin now.

    • Isabel

      Well said.

      This is basically the problem with beauty standards in a world were everyone’s so different.

      • jjj2

        Shouldn’t she be a size 8 if she were to start setting size 8 as a ‘standard’? She’s no longer plus size, she looks great, she looks healthier, and she is much less than a size 8.. Why is she still trying to push the plus sized model thing?

    • southerngumdrops

      Well said. I would be happy with a 4.

    • Casey

      Well said Erica.

      I also want to add because someone above mentioned it….what about shorter models?

      I’ve never succumbed to the notion that clothes look better on super tall people. I think it depends on the person, and the type of clothing…some do, some don’t.

      There are so many gorgeous shorter girls who could be models, aside from their height, and it’s a shame. Julie Ordon is absolutely stunning but she seems to struggle finding work because she is 5’7 or 5’8….she always gets invited to the castings but never makes the VS show, for example, even though she looks better than a lot of the other models.

      • serena

        Barbara is 5’7 and Ale isn’t quite 5’8 so if VS truly wanted Julie they would use her. And that is still on the taller side for a woman anyway, I’m not tall or super skinny but I understand why they favor long lean frames.

      • I forgot about height! Yes, diversity in height would be great too. I also have never bought into the notion that clothes can only look good on longer, leaner figures. Maybe the clothes high fashion tends to make now, but they are making those clothes for tall, thin women! Maybe if they started to have models of more average height, they would design clothes for those models and they would look just as good as the tall ones!? As I said, diversity is what is missing for me – I don’t think sizes need to be excluded, I think sizes need to be added. And different heights too. In mainstream fashion there is some diversity, but on the runway, from what I’ve seen, models all seem to be within an inch of one another – in every way!

    • cfp

      I think she means a size 8 in designer fashion…just want to point out that a size 8 means having about a 26″ waist on a 5’10” model…this is about what we associate with a regular person’s size 4. So I don’t really think that Crystal is saying anything extreme by suggesting a size 8 as the sample size.

    • jemima

      I wish I could just “like” this comment instead of saying “well said,” again, but yeah, well said.

      • solaxia

        Agreed Erica! … and one more time … well said!

        Casey – I agree about the shorter models. It also applies for people with more curvaceous frames (with a bit more meat on the bones)…people think that clothes look best on tall and thin, but as you said it does depend on the clothes and the person. Some clothes look far better on a voluptuous figure. Not saying that the fashion industry should use more Marilyn Munroes/ Salma Hayeks…because that’s never going to happen. However, it would be a dream to me if they used them too.

        • kim

          furthermore, why don’t designers make clothing that looks good on different body shapes and sizes? why are we so worried about whether the model is skinny enough to wear the clothes and ask why the clothes don’t look good on anyone but skinny women??

          • Didn’t read this Kim before I replied to Casey – but I agree completely. Designers don’t make clothes with diversity of body shape and size in mind, generally – models and celebs are supposed to shrink into the designs for the most part!

  • southerngumdrops

    Bring back the 90’s models!! I feel like the most popular solution to this size 0 debate is just to use a size 16 model every time.

    I’m fine with size 16 models, but I’d love to see size 6 women who aren’t boney but are still in amazing shape. I don’t necessarily need to see someone larger in clothes to be able to tell that they would look great on “real” women. I want to see them on someone who looks healthy but has a knockout body at the same time.

    • lol

      “Bring back the 90′s models”

      If I hear that cliche one more time I am going to scream.
      90’s models were mostly a size 4 tops and some like Kate Moss and Jodie Kidd were even less than that. In 60’s models like Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton were waifs, very thin, in the 70’s and 80’s Gia Carangi was thin, there has always been very thin models and even the athletic ones, were no more than a size 4 during runway shows. Every decade since the 60’s has had it’s fair share of both athletic and very skinny models. The 90’s didn’t invent athletic models either, Christy Brinkley and Cheryl Teggs were top models in the 70’s long before Cindy Crawford was around. Also, Everyone makes out like it is only in recent years since models have been very thin which is rubbish considering they were very thin in the 60’s and every decade since then. I bet there isn’t much difference between the size of 90’s Christy Turlington and today’s Miranda Kerr. both a size 4. The fact is there have always been both types of model but all of them were slim and toned. People act like everything is is different now but it isn’t. Thin models have always been around. it’s not something new. I remember in the mid 90’s all the controversy Kate Moss caused because if her thin frame. It will be the same the next decade and the decade after and so on. Karlie Kloss isn’t something new. and the 90’s models were not big women. They were all tall and thin. C. Renn sounds like she want them to look more like regular women, which they never will no matter how much she protests.
      Plus size modelling is a different thing all together,

      • Ysatis

        Models in the 90’s used to do it all. Bikini, runway, high fashion. Now they have divided the industry. Bikini models are not skinny enough to do high fashion or runway. High fashion models are too skinny to do bikini. For instance Karlie Kloss is just so wrong as a VS angel.

        The models during the fashion week look painfully skinny, it wasn’t the case in the 90’s. The Linda, Naomi, Claudia were very slim but they didn’t look all boney.

        I also think the 90’s model were more beautiful. Most of the time I don’t understand how the current high fashion models became models in the first place. They are nothing special.

        • Fielding

          Models of the 70’s 80’s and 90’s were just as skinny as today’s models – this is true.

          *However*, the big girls, the superstars, were not as skinny as the size 0 runway models. This is the key point.

          Also, SI models of the 80’s and 90’s tended to be a bit bigger, more toned, and more muscular overall. They also did high fashion.

          Today, as someone stated already, SI models and HF models are segregated from one another.

          Yes, there were some super skinny HF models, but they were not the norm, and they mostly appeared near the *end* of the supermodel/glamazon era. Kate Moss, Kristen Mcnenamy, Shalom Harlow, Amber Valetta, were all skinnier than the girls who came before them: Linda Evanglista, Cindy Crawford, Christie Brinkley, Elle Macpherson, Kim Alexis, Bridget Hall, Claudia Schiffer…the list goes on and on.

          There were exceptions during the 80s, 90s – Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington spring to mind – but they are timeless and could do waif as well as glamazon.

          For the most part, the late 80s early 90s girls were all about being sexy, toned, and having big boobies and round butts!

  • southerngumdrops

    also, I think another thing worth including in this topic is the fact that most women who are going to be buying these higher end designer clothes are thinner than the average woman (a size 12) anyway.

    Higher socioeconomic status often results in women who are able to buy better food, afford a gym membership, have someone look after the kids so they can spend more time on “vain” aspects such as beauty, weight, hair, etc.

    I’d love to see a size 6 model on the catwalk, but I don’t think Prada using a size 16 model is going to get them any more customers.

    • Catherin-o

      interesting point!

  • Liv

    I love the pic of her smiling… She is beautiful when she smiles

  • Cal

    Watching an old Versace show and a 2012 Chanel show the models are so different, not just in size. The models were memorable and larger than life, now most of them are boring and plain. Now they look weak and have no personality.

    • southerngumdrops

      so true. i’ve heard it said/written many times though that this change has come about because designers want their clothes to stand out instead of the models standing out.

      they don’t want you to be distracted by a gorgeous face/figure, but rather be drawn only to the clothes. so the
      “clothes hanger” reference isn’t really that off.

      • Cal

        I think that logic is stupid personally. A charismatic model is going to make the outfit memorable and give it life.

      • Winnie

        it’s true. it’s been said that the Glamazons we’re so nostalgic of are to blame for the changes in models’ appearance because they were becoming TOO popular and powerful within the industries. The big six (Cindy, Naomi, Claudia & co) made a loooooottt of money and generated a lot of press, had a lot of say in their careers, stuff most models today can only dream of! eventually, they began abuse this and overshadow the brands and products they were representing because they were “larger than life” as someone mentioned. it’s safe to say that the changes in the industry (celebrities becoming the faces of brands, landing campaigns and magazine covers) have ensured that models will probably never have that much power again for a long while

      • Ysatis

        That may be the case but now it’s the front row starlets that are getting all the media attention rather than the designers clothes.

  • jessica_rabbit

    well size 6-8 was fine in the 90s and supermodels then were gorgeous!

    • Neri

      Well I really do agree 🙂 The models were SO beautiful back then! They were like goddesses. Bring back those body ideals again, thank you very much! Minimum height 5’7 and size 6-8 for females. That’s a much healthier starting point.

    • Casey

      90’s models were a size 4, not a 6-8. At least, with today’s vanity sizing taken into account.

      • Ophelie

        Exactly Casey. Size 6 high designer from the 90s corresponds to size 2 high designer today, 2-4 in comtemporary designer and size 0 in stores like Ann Taylor, Gap etc. The 90s models were toned and Cindy and Tyra were bigger but look at Helena Christensen in the Wicked Games video and she was tiny. I was also shocked at how small Naomi was in the George Michael Freedom video. Today’s models definitely have less muscle mass but they are way closer to 90s models than a size 8 woman.

      • lol

        Exactly. I don’t understand why people are always claiming that 90’s models were a size 8. That is a UK size 12.
        Compare Doutzen Kroes with Naomi Campbell from the 90’s. They are around about the same size. so many people on this site want to believe that the 90’s models were role models for “real women” when they were just as unattainable. as the models today. and yes now we have vanity sizing which is why we have people like Kim Kardashain claiming to be a size 2.

        • jessica_rabbit

          imo the difference is, helena linda cindy milla tyra naomi etc.(just name them..) looked like grown a** beautifull women and they were sexy and charismatic in a very womanly way while miranda, behati, even alessandra all look like a pretty high school cheerleaders willing to put it out..its kinda creepy.and its not just about the skinnyness but they really were like 2 size bigger(t.patitz,cindy,claudia,laetitia,tyra..)

      • I’m not arguing the notion that models in the 90’s were ‘big’, but I certainly feel that on average they were bigger than the average high fashion models of today? Actually, when I say 90’s models I really mean 80’s and early 90’s, because around the mid-90’s we had runway models like Kate Moss and Jodie Kidd who were very thin. I think that was when the role of a model shifted from being a celeb and personality first and a clothes-hanger second to the other way round! Nowadays you get the feeling that the model is not important – the clothes should be the only attention-grabber – with the early 90’s models I don’t think that was the case.

        It’s just, if I think back on the most famous models of the 90’s, most of them seem to be bigger than the most famous ones of today. Not much bigger – maybe only one size or two – but generally bigger. Is that skewed thinking/selective memory on my part? But there also seems to be more of a divide between ‘high fashion’ models and mainstream ones now too, which throws this whole argument off a little.

        • annemarie

          They were only 1 or 2 sizes bigger than nowaday models but they were much more toned since they did not only high fashion but also lingerie/bikini modeling, which is why people think they looked so different.

          Nowadays high fashion models have to be with as little muscle on them as they can, while VS models, for example, are more toned than them but still only 1-2 sizes bigger. Look at Karlie, she’s very tall and skinny with almost no muscle tone but when she’s next to other VS models she’s not much thinner than them but they look “healthier” than her.

  • Casey

    Why not a size 4? I think that is a nice in-between, especially if they are going to insist on having super tall models. The models would still look slim, albeit not super thin, and a size 4 for the average height (5’5) is a realistic size for a lot of people.

    • Adriana

      I agree with you.

  • Kimberly K

    I agree. I am 42 and at 5’6″ 119lbs a size 4 is what feels good and looks good in my opinion. Sure when you are under 25 you could be thinner. For those of us 35 and over, we are not dead and still can look stylish. Enough with the too thin fascination!! We should know better than that by now…

  • Rachel

    I wonder what Elizabeth Banks, queen of the “genetically superior”, would have to say about this.

  • kateuk

    At the moment sample sizes are made to fit around measurements 32-24-34. So even just a few inches, i.e 35-26-37 would be the same proportions but slightly larger, and I think this would be far more realistic — especially since they are using models averaging 5ft10 and not 5ft2! It would probably look a lot more attractive as well. Tall slender models are beautiful, but tall emaciated ones are not IMO.

  • greenie313

    The thing is.. its not impossible for all models. There is a HUGE difference between a fit, thin, healthy 5’10 model who takes care of herself and eats clean, works out ect (I mean.. wouldnt you if your job was about glowing and wearing swimsuits all the time) and then the girls who have to fight to stay that thin and looks gaunt, weak and dull… Agents just need to be better about seeing the difference. Hire a girl who is healthy 2, not a scary 2. I think size 4 would be the right size for samples. Allowing the girls with the max sized hips and waist 25/36 fit and only have to pin an inch or two in for thinner girls. The funny thing is, people say models like Lara Stone are more real and larger the most models, she is still a 24/34, just with larger breast and shapely hips. I have been in the fashion world for 10 years, and can see 2 girls wear the same size, and have the same measurements but one looks like a rail and the other looks curvy. Modeling is modeling, its about the clothes looking its best, and is what it is. I think it just needs to be healthier and more open that is just a rare thing to fit into the mold of it. But I am sick of people saying use “real women” these girls are still real, women come in every shape and size.. and I think a women at a size 12 or 2 is beautiful. When they are both healthy and feel good. Its just about not turning a blind eye to the difference between a model caring for herself since its her job, and struggling to be so thin.. I think modeling needs to go back having girls be 32-25-36… rather then that be “too big” 23-34 has become the normal it seems..

  • janae

    Maybe this comment will sound stupid, but it is something I really do not understand about the fashion industry….. obviously being very tall and very thin is extremely rare (many models can not even keep up this ‘ideal’ and it is what they are paid for), so why are designers even focused on making clothes in these sizes if basically no one in “real life” fits these stats? I always hear that “clothing looks best on tall lean women” (I think this is debatable), but shouldnt it be the challenge of the designer to make clothing that looks great on many different body types? And by this I don’t mean I want more “plus sized” models! I do think models should have enviable figures- they should be someone that is attractive and someone that people want to look at… so why does the fashion industry think the only way to diversify their line is to hire bigger women?! I personally would love to see truly facially beautiful women of different heights and different body types, but all in top shape- by this I mean lets find a hapy medium, not starving and stick thin, but not cellulite and jiggle either.

    • Winnie

      among all of this 90s super-model talk, i though i’d ask something. am i the old one who doesn’t think Kate Moss was THAT skinny? not at the height of her career anyway. she’s thinner now if anything. of course she was thin, but she was also shorter than the other models. she looked like she may have restricted a bit (this is the nature of her job) but i never thought of her as looking as overwhelmingly skinny as people always make her sound. last semester in one of my classes, my professor used a video of Kate on the runway as an example of an “emaciated” and “unrealistic” body and i felt kind of, i dunno–ashamed about not being able to totally agree with her :S i just don’t see it

      • Winnie

        oops! this was meant to be an individual comment

        • Adriana

          I too have never thought of Kate Moss as being too thin.

      • Ysatis

        Kate Moss was bit skinnier than the other models but compared to nowadays runway models she looked fat.

        Runway models have become so skinny now. It’s no wonder the average model last only 3 years in the business.

      • Lex

        Completely agree. People just tend to copy eachother’s comments and Kate got the blame for skinny, while to the trained eye she has always had a normal bf %. she has a bony, wide hipped body, which makes her look more rangy, and jutting cheekbones. However ’emaciated’ she never was. And she’s been pretty much the same size her whole life. In this world you tend to her the same cliche’s over and over and people quote each other.

  • D

    Heres the problem, she wants designers to change sample sizes from a 2 to size 8 but the girl doesnt want to be a size 8 herself…

    • Winnie

      i agree. when i look at her, i see an obviously big-boned lady, who is trying way too hard to be thinner than her frame allows. her body ends up looking awkward a as a result.

  • HazeL

    I agree that the sizing needs to be bigger, but I think a 6 is more realistic than an 8 (IMO) it depends what you want to see really, I personally like looking at beautiful women with amazing figures and like seeing models that are a similar height and shape to myself but maybe 10lbs less so that I have motivation to eat well and workout. I think there just need to be more diversity so that everyone feels represented. However, I think if a designer had a fashion show with models of different shapes and sizes it would look a little messy, so I understand why they have models of similar heighs/sizes in one show – whether they be 5’10 and 120lbs or 5’6 and 140lbs. I don’t know if that really made much sense as I just woke up lol.

  • Natalia

    First of all, sometimes the sample size is a 4 (US), most of the time it is a 2. A 2 is fine, a 4 is fine (US), but not 8. That is just too big for runway. A model needs to be tall and thin because a taller and thinner woman looks better in the clothes. If she cannot get thin enough to fit into the sample size of a particular designer, she should find another job, or do plus size modeling. There are many girls who are naturally thin enough to do so, and are the designers ideal, and they are the ones that should be modeling. I haven’t been on this website for a while, but when I read this article, I wanted to leave a comment. Many of us are talking about her comments right now.

    • serena

      Truthfully I think a very long/thin figure like Karlie K. doesn’t look good, but is best for modeling clothes, because attention is drawn to the dress rather than the figure, like a mannequin.Think of how a plain frame can draw eyes to a beautiful painting. I think women look best when curves fill out the dress and create a feminine shape. VS models stuff their bras and thrust our hips to add curves for visual appeal. Sometimes a beautiful woman isn’t the best model because eyes are drawn to her face rather than dress or shoes she is displaying. I think size 2 – 4 is best for modeling. 8 is too big.

  • Natalia

    Versus, I would like my comments to appear please, I will not agrue or debate with anyone who does not agree with me, and will only converse with people who share my opinion. I am now in a pre-law course which involves much debate, and that has helped give me an outlet for my desire to debate, and would like to casually visit this site, leaving my comments, talking to those who do agree with me, and who were nice to me last time I was here. Thank you!

    • Versus

      Your comments do appear – but not instantly, as they go through moderation first.

      • Natalia

        Just saw this, thank you Versus!

    • lc

      Hi Natalia! 🙂

      • Natalia

        Hey! 🙂

  • lc

    8 is asking a bit much imo.

  • Natalia

    And if she wants the sample size 8 to accomodate sizes 6 thru 10………? how is it possible that a size 8 will fit someone who is a true size 10? And what kind of tailoring will that require? That would be a lot of work to ‘let out’ everything to make from 8 to 10. As well as a ton of work to take from size 8 to size 4. And it may actually be possible to take from 8 to size 0. I have had found clothes that I wanted tailor to take from a larger size down to fit me and they said most of the time when you go down 4 or 5 sizes, it cannot even be done.

    • Natalia

      may actually NOT be possible to take from size 8 to size 0.
      Also, very few models are a size 0! I am a size 4, but that has to be taken in in chest, waist, hips – but need the size for for the shoulder width, arm length, pants rise, leg length. At 103-104 I am not size 0, and most models I know are not either, for the span and length of their bones.

  • Sarah

    While I think she has the right idea that the way they are doing it now isn’t right, I don’t think having a sample size of 8 is a solution. Sure, more women will be able to diet down to it, but what about those who still can’t? And what about the naturally small girls who would never get up to an 8… in fact let’s say there was some alternate universe where 8 was the best, and small girls forced themselves to gain weight. Lol, I know that would never happen but you get the idea. I like how another poster said we need to focus on diversity instead of a standard.

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