I don’t know how to react to this commentary by sex blogger Violet Blue on Crystal Renn’s changing look. She recaps the January 2010 magazine fad for featuring plus size models, comparing them to the photos linked above:
"I now see that in Tush Magazine’s Summer 2011 edition, Crystal Renn is featured in a shoot by Ellen von Unwerth, and she’s lost the weight that many of you found erotic. She dropped several sizes not long after the controversy, but this set really shows the difference. And, I find it undeniably sexy.
"I’m really curious: what do you think? Did we lose something here?"
I feel like Violet Blue has missed the point entirely here: it’s not whether she finds Renn sexy at a smaller size, it’s about the difference Renn tried to make in the modeling industry as a plus-sized woman. Isn’t that what Renn’s book, Hungry, was all about? (Caveat: I haven’t yet read it.) Hell yeah, we’ve lost something: one less person to challenge the mainstream ideal of beauty, one less reason to try and make fashion accessible to people over a certain size.
Surprisingly, as of now none of the comments left on Blue’s article are even sarcastic. One of the commentators left a link to this interview with Renn, where she’s asked,
"Does the bashing you described–people angry over the fact that you are not “plus size” etc.,–ever get to you?
“[Renn answers:] The thing is, I was recovering from anorexia. My body’s going to do some things that I don’t expect. It’s a learning process for me. The problem is when we start bashing and saying ‘Oh i think she’s not as pretty when she’s this thin’ or I even read a comment where it said I was emaciated. I’ve been called fat a million times but when someone called me emaciated, I’ve got to be honest, I got really really angry. I am not emaciated. It’s funny because if I, for instance gained the weight because I was listening to them, I’d be doing the very same thing I was doing when I started out in this industry. I was listening to others to decide where my weight should be and who I should be in general. And I refuse to do that again. It would be more hypocritical.”
So I need help here, fat acceptance peeps. Was my initial reaction too harsh? I still feel like what Violet Blue personally finds sexy isn’t the real issue here (and it sounds like Renn is reacting to similar subjective judgements in the interview quote). Does the fat-o-sphere have room to be disappointed here, or should we aim the conversation elsewhere because it concerns changes in her body/looks? And yet, how else can we have a conversation about modeling and the people in it? Can we only talk about modeling as a whole and the body types most often seen in it, not individuals?
Or to ask the same thing (possibly) more clearly:
How can we say anything about whether Crystal Renn has gained or lost weight and still be “super rad political fatties”? Her body is no one’s business but her own!
But there were already so few “plus size” people in mainstream fashion! How can this be good?