I’ve always been an advocate for women’s body confidence. Too many girls and young women get sucked into eating disorders and other unhealthy practices striving to be what is believed to be “beautiful.” That’s why I also was a big fan of Crystal Renn, who I first saw in Glamour magazine. Renn is a successful “plus-sized” model who used to battle anorexia early in her career. She has been an even greater success after embracing a larger figure. She even published a book, Hungry, about her struggle with weight and the fashion industry.
I was shocked, however, when I read an article that Renn had lost a large amount of weight and was teetering on the edge of sickly-skinny again. Photos from a recent Fashion for Passion shoot seemed to be evidence of this change in her physique.
Then the truth came out. Renn's photos had been dramatically altered to make her seem much skinnier. She had been airbrushed to look sizes smaller. In an interview with The Today Show's Meredith Viera, Renn discussed her reaction to the photos.
"When I first saw the photos, I would have to say I was absolutely shocked. I'm a size 10, and that's more like a size 2," she said. She went on to say that in the fashion industry "plus" means "plus the norm." Those who have seen Renn in person say she isn't large at all. Although she has lost 25 pounds since beginning her career as a larger model, she attributes the difference to healthy exercise not purposeful weight loss.
I was even more shocked by the airbrushing when I found out what Fashion for Passion actually is. The nonprofit organization is geared toward advocating for children’s arts and music programs across the U. S. Their Web site states that a few things the organization hopes to raise funds for are music lessons, art classes and supplies, creative spaces and arts summer camps. Mostly, it provides opportunities for children to grow with the arts.
Arts programs are meant to nurture and develop talent, but also are meant to instill students with confidence and self-esteem. I was never that into sports, and I found an amazing outlet in middle and high school by participating in show choir, dance and drama. I had fun and that feeling of being on stage is incomparable. In raising funds and awareness for these types of programs, the photos of Renn are essentially counterproductive to create confidence. They instead give the message that students still need to be a certain way instead of embracing who they truly are.
I commend Renn for her advocacy for a world where size isn’t an issue. It’s disheartening that Fashion for Passion allowed her photos to be edited in such a way. We can learn a thing or two from her about courage and confidence, a lesson that Fashion for Passion should heed.Lead image courtesy of Nymag.com