Crystal Renn is not only a fashion model, she is a young, vibrant, self assured woman who has learned, through personal challenges, to become the director of her life.

As a young teen she was scouted for a large modeling agency, dropping her bodyweight to under a hundred pounds on her 5’9” frame in order to secure a modeling job.

Hungry:  A Young Model’s Story of Appetite, Ambition and the Ultimate Embrace of Curves is her story.  From her moderate childhood obsessions to the development of full blown anorexia to a more balanced and aware young adulthood, Renn shares her changing relationship with food and explores its complex connection to her self esteem, self image and self acceptance.  She incorporates in her story, the social and cultural context within which bodyweight exists in the modeling world, in North American society, and in the lives of young women.

Crystal Renn’s achievement is in walking away from a modeling career which required her to maintain an unhealthy body size and kept her hungry and unhappy.   Wisely, she quickly realized what she wanted more was to be happy and healthy.  The journey to this goal demanded that she listen to her body, treat it with love, caring and respect regardless of its size, and learn to become comfortable in her own skin.  Once she found the joy in being full-out Crystal Renn and not a shadow of herself, her modeling career took hold – a statement to her tenacity, self-confidence and intelligence.

The book, I think, is a decent little read for anyone struggling with body image in an image-obsessed world.  It might also be the book to hand to a teenage daughter.  Crystal Renn’s modeling as a luscious, camera-loving, healthy bodied young woman was first brought to my attention by my oldest daughter who would be 2 years younger than Renn and I’ll be handing the book along to her.

Renn attempts to place dieting within a context; she cites research studies, blogs and books which may be of use to the reader.  So not only is this a memoir, a peek inside the world of high fashion and modeling, it is also a bit of a primer and advice coloumn.

The underlying promise of dieting – a promise as powerful as any industrial-strength foundation garment – is that once we reach our goal weight, our lives will be perfect.  That’s the fairy-tale ending glimmering after the credits of a weight-loss reality show.  It’s the story written in invisible ink in the margins of the exercise stories in too many women’s magazines.  Eating well isn’t about offering our bodies nourishing food – it’s about getting skinnier.  Exercise isn’t about becoming stronger, managing stress, or supporting heart health – it’s about getting skinnier.  Getting skinnier means that life will start playing in Technicolor to the accompaniment of a glorious orchestra.

Criticizing Renn’s size 12 beauty as not-plus-enough or too-large-for-fashion misses the point that she is expressing in the book, despite the problems with an industry which can label a size 10 or 12 woman as plus size.  It is time, she says, to accept diversity in body size and weight – of our self and of those around us – and for the fashion industry to do the same.

Women are clamoring to see bodies like their own represented and celebrated…It’s essential to see that size is only one of the battlefronts… Diversity helps us all.  And thin people are not the enemy.  When we gripe at other women for being too thin as well as too fat, we allow ourselves to be distracted from the real issue.  We have to change the culture by rewarding and applauding diversity in all its forms, not by vilifying individual women.

Renn has come by some valuable lessons very early in life and I’m glad she’s sharing her story.

The solution is to accept that the only person you have to please is yourself.  Indulge your instincts, wear what you love, and embrace your own natural size…Confidence is what ultimately makes us attractive, no matter what we look like.

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