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Is This Woman Plus Sized?

Posted Sep 08 2009 10:23pm
Picture from bathing suit spread in Glamour Magazine

Crystal Renn, whose story of going from normal teen to anorexic supermodel and then to number one plus-sized model in the world is an inspiration on so many levels. By all accounts (I haven't read it yet but really want to!), her book Hungry is a well-written and honest look at how the modeling and fashion industries use and abuse women and how she reclaimed her sanity along with her career. She certainly deserves all the praise and success she is being showered with.

And yet. Every time I see a picture of this drop-dead gorgeous woman I think to myself, " This is 'plus sized'? Really??" According to her profile with her modeling agency she is 5'9" and a U.S. size 8. I understand that the modeling world operates in a different universe than the rest of us but I thought that the term "plus-sized" had a very specific definition: any size over a U.S. 14 (although some lines start at a U.S. 16).

In addition, her stats - not that that is a good measure of a woman but is useful when discussing her inclusion in a group known for being a specific size - are a curvaceous 39-32-43. While it is well known that having a super-skinny catwalk-model shape is quite rare - about 5% of the population naturally have this body type - it is equally as rare to have proportions akin to Renn's. What I'm saying is that the Marilyn Monroes and Kim Kardashians of the world, with their tiny waists and large hips and busts, are as unlike "real" or "average" women as their Agyness Deyn or Audrey Hepburn counterparts.

I'm thrilled that Renn is getting high-profile work. But the question must be asked: Does it serve us any better to replace one unrealistic standard with another? Or is providing an aspirational yet unattainable ideal simply the role that we want fashion to play? If it is the latter, then we'd better stop whining about the skinny models too.

What do you think - is Renn a progressive step in the right direction of promoting beauty in different shapes and sizes? Or is it just one more beautiful face and body packaged in a pretty, albeit, different box? Lastly, do you look at Renn and honestly think "plus-sized"??

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