It started with Sophie Dahl. She exploded into the world of fashion and broke the mold. She was young and beautiful, like most models, and the granddaughter of children’s author Roald Dahl; however, the reason most of us got to know her was because she was a size 14. And a model. She was a plus-size model, not restricted to mail order catalogues for women who can’t fit into “normal” sizes. I loved her. If she could be beautiful, then maybe I could! Then she lost weight.
I felt betrayed, I really did. I felt personally aggrieved and I felt that she had turned her back on me. My whole life I had believed that I would never be attractive unless I was thin. Her success as a model made me doubt myself. (Only doubt myself now, it would take more than one beacon of light to drag me out of the pit of self-loathing I had dug for myself with the help of school bullies and well, pretty much every image of beauty I’d ever been shown). Her weight loss and subsequent mainstream success as a “normal” model disappointed me, and I wasn’t the only one. There was a reasonable backlash.
The same thing is happening now with Crystal Renn. She started her modelling career at 14, suffered with anorexia, became a plus size model and wrote a book about it (Hungry: A Young Model’s Story of Appetite, Ambition and the Ultimate Embrace of Curves).
It’s not surprise that she was lauded as the perfect plus size beacon of light for this generation. Since then, she’s lost some weight and is somewhere in between the 95lbs she was during her anorexia and what she feels is her natural size “more like 175lbs”. And there is backlash. In this video she addresses her feelings on the matter (3:04):
Obviously, Crystal Renn and Sophie Dahl should not be vilified for their sizes any more than I should be vilified for mine. Their bodies are just that, their bodies. The real issue here is that there are so few images of beauty that are “plus-sized” that when we lose one it’s a big deal! If the mainstream media could diversify a little, then there wouldn’t be so much pressure on the one or two people who manage to get publicly labelled beautiful despite being “plus-sized”.
P.S. I am kind of tempted to stick in Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” here. 😉