Has Plus-Size Model Crystal Renn Lost Weight?

And if so, should we be angry at the loss of a body image role model?

In Crystal Renn’s memoir, Hungry: A Young Model's Story of Appetite, Ambition and the Ultimate Embrace of Curves,  the model shares her journey from miserably anorexic straight-sized model -- her career began at age 14, after losing almost one-third of her body weight to make it happen -- to joyous and proud size-12 cover model and virtual leader of the plus-sized movement. (You’ve definitely seen her before – like on the Jean Paul Gaultier runway or in Glamour magazine.

In February, I spoke with her about coping with the pressure of serving as the poster woman for curvy or plus models (she said, "I love what I do and am extremely passionate about my message, 'Beauty comes in a variety of sizes.' I love being able to speak up for women and the issues that they deal with, because I think change is possible, and I find great satisfaction from this.")

But new pictures of Renn  clad in nothing but a T-shirt and heavy eyeliner for an ad for Fashion for Passion show Renn looking nearly as thin as she did when in the midst of her early disordered modeling days.  This isn’t the first time tongues have been wagging over Renn’s apparent slimdown -– many thought she looked thinner in May at the Chanel Cruise Collection show.

Renn’s agent, Gary Dakin of Ford Models, dismissed rumors that his superstar client, who is known for her blunt and outspoken critiquing of  the fashion industry’s obsession with thinness, was actively trying to lose weight, claiming  she had simply "firmed up" after hiking in Patagonia. He also said, "She is still a 39 to 40 hip (she fluctuates like any woman), and a solid size 10. She has no urge [to lose weight]. She’s an amazing model. She can make herself look bigger or smaller depending on what the client wants."

OK, a few things. First, I have a 38 to 39 inch hip measurement. I wear a size 10 to 12 pant and size 6 to 8 dress. I’m 5’11” and about 140 pounds. No one would describe me as "plus"…and yet, it seems I am. So the fact that Renn is looking svelte in these new pictures might not be because she lost all that much weight, but because she truly was never that "plus" to begin with. I’ve seen her in interviews and she looks like a healthy, gorgeous, well-spoken women. Only in comparison to uber-skinny waifs does she look even remotely big.

There’s a theory that Renn is sometimes photoshopped to look larger than she actually is. If so, she’s not the first female celeb rumored to have fallen victim to reverse photoshopping: Nikki Blonsky may have been altered to look larger in her bathing suit for the HUGE promo; Cameron Diaz has been plumped up, too. And her agent’s weight chameleon hypothesis could hold water – a good model can make herself look taller (didn’t you see the petite version of America’s Next Top Model?) or stronger or sexier, depending on her gaze, body positioning, etc.

But regardless of whether she did lose weight or not, I feel for Renn.  It can't be easy or pleasant to have the entire blogosphere feverishly tracking every once you gain or shed. True, she opened herself up to scrutiny by writing her book and taking the pro-size acceptance stance she has she loudly and proudly adopted. But it would be nice if people just left her alone and let her settle into whatever size she wants to be at. The only thing I might be concerned about is if the recent weight loss was symptomatic of an eating disorder relapse. But if she just dropped a dress size or two, big whoop. She’s certainly in good company: Many other "plus-size role models" have slimmed down -– most notably, Jennifer Hudson and Queen Latifah.  Granted, the latter two did so in exchange for vast sums of money as Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig spokeswomen, respectively. If Renn pops up in a Dr. Siegal Cookie Diet ad, then we may have a problem.

What do you think of Crystal Renn's possible weight loss? Chime in below.

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