I Do Not Feel Betrayed When A Plus Size Model Loses Weight

UPDATE: Madeline Jones comments, explains that Radar.com misquoted her. See my new post (“Madeline Jones Responds, Radar.com Article Misleading“) for further info! Here’s her comment:

Hi Corina,
Radar Online absolutely misquoted me in this piece. When I was asked what types of comments we have received from our readers about Crystal Renn’s weight loss, I gave them both positive and negative comments and they only printed the negative banter and then went further and said it was coming from me. I’m beyond disgusted with this website and will never give them another interview again.
Madeline Jones
PLUS Model Magazine

Do you? I’m not sure why you would, but the Editor-in-Chief of PLUS Model Magazine – Madeline Jones – recently shared some pretty strong words about model Crystal Renn’s weight loss. Her interview with Radar Online tells us about a petty, self-absorbed woman – but Renn isn’t the one that comes across poorly. The statements were so ridiculous, in fact, that I’m still not entirely sure that this is true. Is this an elaborate hoax wherein dumb statements were attributed to someone? I honestly would like confirmation because I guess I simply can’t believe that anyone would be so ignorant as to say such things in an interview.

A little back story to begin with: Crystal Renn has been modeling since she was 14. Early in her career, pressures from the industry led to a severe battle with anorexia. She was able to overcome this problem and later became one of the most prominent plus-size models in fashion history. Her accomplishments are her own, but her success as a plus-size model had a huge positive impact for her peers in the industry.

Per New York Magazine, Renn measured at 5 feet 9 inches tall, bra 38C, waist 30, hips 42, and a size 12 in January of 2010. Today, she is down to a size 6, which is still a far cry from her former anorexic size 0. So what’s the problem? Apparently, some plus size women feel hurt and betrayed by Crystal’s recent weight loss. Madeline Jones of PLUS Model Magazine is particularly upset, accusing Renn of purposely lying and deceiving her former supporters. Here a few choice quotes from Ms. Jones:

Everyone rallied around her and now she’s turned against us.

We have been betrayed by her.

You don’t lose that much weight doing yoga and hiking! You have to put a lot of effort to go from a 14 to a size 6. We’re not that stupid, we know how hard it is to lose weight and she insulted our intelligence.

Once she got down to a size 10 she lost the support of a lot of people. We’re disappointed because she was our star fighting for equality and fashion for us, and now she’s going to their side.

It is sad that she’s turned her back on us.

She should have said she wasn’t comfortable in her skin anymore and wanted to make more money. Instead she has deceived us and we feel insulted!

I’m totally confused as to who the “we” is here, because as far as I can tell, Jones is speaking for herself and not anyone else. I’m a member of the plus-size fashion market, and I don’t feel betrayed or deceived. So who is the mysterious “we” that Jones is voicing the objections of? Now for the next confusing part. Madeline “Maddy” Figueroa-Jones heads up PLUS Model Magazine. Here’s the description of that publication, straight from the “About” portion of their website:

PLUS Model Magazine, the premiere virtual magazine celebrating the plus size fashion, beauty and plus size modeling industries, inspires YOU to thrive in your curves, crave contemporary fashion and design your life on your own terms, sans apologies.

Apparently that only applies to plus-size women? Because Jones sure does seem to want an apology from Crystal Renn, despite how Renn is, in fact, living life on her own terms. In an interview with Daily Venus Diva (“the lifestyle magazine for women with curves”, of which I believe Jones is a moderator), Jones spoke about how they handled negative comments about another article:

If the comments were opinions then we let it go. I think people have the right to feel how feel [sic]. When people became disrespectful to the models, to us or to the industry or plus size women in general we deleted and blocked them. I was not going to allow people to be nasty, it is our right to bring attention to the plus size women and to demand brands and designers to market to us.

Again, I don’t understand. I  am fully in favor of equality for plus-size individuals – I’m one of them! But I also think that maybe we don’t need to be disrespectful towards anyone. It’s horrible when someone criticizes a plus-size person (or the entire industry) but it’s totally okay to spew vile critiques towards one individual? Especially one that has publicly struggled with an eating disorder? What kind of sense does that make?

Here’s an excerpt from the aforementioned article that received negative comments:

The answer to the question is this, there is nothing wrong with our bodies. We are bombarded with weight-loss ads every single day, multiple times a day because it’s a multi-billion dollar industry that preys on the fear of being fat. Not everyone is meant to be skinny, our bodies are beautiful and we are not talking about health here because not every skinny person is healthy.

Plus Size Bodies, What Is Wrong With Them Anyway? by Editor-in-Chief Madeline Figueroa-Jones

Doesn’t the opposite hold true as well? Not everyone is meant to be fat, our bodies are beautiful and we are not talking about health here because not every fat person is healthy. Here’s the thing – being a proponent of plus-size issues does not equal being an opponent of thin people. Believe me, I would love to feel accepted and beautiful to everyone, despite my fat. Plus-size issues are very important to me, and I am completely in favor of more realistic models and dress sizes in the fashion industry.

But we won’t get anywhere by making it an “us versus them” debate, or by trying to bring down people who don’t look like us. Because, you know, when people judge us by our size, it makes us feel bad. Here’s where it gets crazy – other people feel bad when they’re judged by their size, too! Shocking, I know. Madeline Jones has done more to discredit the fight for plus-size equality than Renn  ever could, because Jones has revealed herself as someone who equates size with self-worth. 

I’m not entirely sure that Jones understands that Crystal Renn’s decisions regarding Crystal Renn’s body are NONE OF HER FUCKING BUSINESS. Jones should think carefully before speaking, because her current bevy of critical quotes paint a portrait of a bitter, resentful woman who is willing to capitalize on someone else’s misfortune just for the sake of media attention.

It’s not cool to judge plus-sized individuals and say that they’re just lazy and fat and not trying hard enough to be healthy. It is equally uncool to judge thin/average-sized individuals and say that they’re anorexic, unhealthy, or at their current weight solely to make money. Because you don’t know the how or why of the situation!

Fat people can be anorexic. Skinny people can be overeaters. People can gain weight due to medical issues. People can lose weight due to medical issues. Activity, intake, and emotional health are all connected. Some of us eat more when we’re upset, some stop eating altogether, some become obsessive exercisers and some take to the couch and hibernate. The point is that you have no idea what someone’s issues are just by looking, so it’s ridiculous to try to judge them.

But Jones goes beyond judging! In her mind, Crystal Renn is gaining and losing weight with the singular intention of screwing over her peers in the fashion industry. Her level of outrage indicates a sad state of affairs going on inside Jones’ mind. Why would you ever assume that someone changed their weight or body shape just to spite you? Does she not realize how that sounds? Like she’s been cheated on by her husband, or someone befriended her just to empty her bank account. Those scenarios justify an outburst about being betrayed and deceived. A lady that isn’t beholden to you in any way, shape, or form is not trying to do anything to or against you when she gains or loses weight. How is this confusing? Or does Jones feel personally persecuted by all models? Did Jones rely on Renn’s plus size shape as justification for her own body shape? Is Jones just upset that it isn’t so easy for her to slim down from a size 14 to a size 6? 

Setting aside the rudeness and anger – Jones’ statements don’t even really make sense. First, Renn is not a tool to be used by anyone for their own gains. She’s allowed to be whatever size she wants, and it’s just too bad if that interferes with your plans. Second, I really, really, REALLY don’t think that she did this as a purposeful betrayal against all of the people who supported her. Third, her size is not a requirement for her to fight for equality in the fashion industry. Renn has long been a proponent of HEALTHY models – which excludes those that are extremely under and overweight. Finally, is Jones an expert on all of the ways that a person can lose weight? Why is it so unbelievable that a woman could drop 4 dress sizes from a combination of yoga and hiking?

It really isn’t any of my business, but I don’t see the confusion here. Renn has mentioned before that she was afraid of integrating exercise in her routine, because it could trigger her eating disorder and lead to obsessive 8 hour workout sessions. So going from a relatively sedentary lifestyle to one that is significantly more active will of course result in weight loss. Renn has also noted that she went through a difficult breakup, and was having a hard time emotionally. I’ve seen myself lose and gain dress sizes purely from how I handled the pain of an ended relationship, so this plus her yoga and hiking seem like a rational explanation for weight loss to me.

Jones is not satisfied, though – she alone knows the truth of Renn’s deception. In her interview with Radar Online, Jones declared that “It would be great for her to come out with a better explanation, though I doubt we will get one.”

Maybe Jones is right. Maybe Renn lost weight just so that she could pursue higher paying modeling gigs. This doesn’t ring true for me, though. I know there are more opportunities for “regular” (versus plus) modeling, but Crystal Renn was the top plus size model in the world. That garnered her more publicity and unique opportunities than she could likely get from being average sized. I’m sure she’s still making plenty of money, but she wasn’t exactly trapped in a shitty, low-income job with no room for advancement.

The girl was rocking Versace and Dolce & Gabbana, how bad could it have been? The New York Times outlines some of her accomplishments: She was a cover girl for some of the world’s hottest fashion magazines, including Vogue and Italian Vanity Fair. Ford Modeling Agency described her as the highest-paid plus size model. Forgive the expression, but if she lost weight for her career, then she went from being a big fish in a little pond to a little fish in a big pond. How is that a smart career move? Methinks there were other factors at play here…

Now, let’s say that Renn didn’t lose the weight just like she said. Maybe Jones is correct, and Renn has gone back to her anorexic days. If that is the case, it is a sad turn of events and this woman needs help. She does not need to be called out and criticized by an editor that used to profit from her. And that STILL doesn’t imply that her motivation was to make more money and screw over Madeline Jones.

I’m a plus size woman, and a fan of Crystal Renn’s work. I think she is more attractive when she has more weight on her, but I don’t think that she should give a shit what I think. The more important point is that I don’t feel angry or betrayed because we’ve lost a good one to the dark side. Yes, she had the opportunity to help lots of women by being proud of her natural curves – but that isn’t her responsibility. She didn’t sign up to be a role model for the prevention of eating disorders. Despite this, she did use her struggle for good. She shared her story and explained her concerns, which was probably helpful for at least one natural curvy aspiring model out there.

Seems to me that Renn is living her life and doing the best that she can, and trying to be open about her struggles. I admire that! I hope that she hasn’t succumbed to anorexia again, but unfortunately that scenario is all too common. Eating disorders require lifelong maintenance and relapses are not exactly a shocking occurence. When someone does return to the former bad habits, public shaming is generally not an effective technique. If your goal is to help someone, you try to deal with them directly, perhaps enlisting the help of family and friends and professionals. If your goal is to exploit someone, you call them out in an online interview and try to play the holier-than-thou card.

Anyone who wants more information about Crystal Renn’s fluctuating weight should reference her own words, and not anything that Madeline Jones says. Here are some excerpts that helped me to fully understand what was going on before I wrote this. If there are more sources that can help me to understand Jones’ point of view, I would be happy to look into them. I’m frustrated with what Jones said for two reasons:

1. I don’t think it’s necessary to try to bring down anyone, especially another woman, by criticizing their size or shape.

2. Jones and PLUS could and should be excellent resources and a source of comfort for plus size women, but people like me (who agree with my first point) are going to be understandably put off by the attitude associated with their site.

In a 2009 Spiegel interview, Renn stated:

When I was 14 years old, a model scout told me I could be a supermodel like Gisele — but only if I lost at least 40 percent of my current weight. So I decided, “OK, I want this, I’ll do it.” I pretty much stopped eating. I was asking how many calories chewing gum had and I spent eight hours in the gym every day. At 5 feet 7 inches I ended up weighting 108 pounds (49 kilos). It was a constant agony. My hair fell out and I was isolating myself more and more.

She also explained what made her realize that she needed to change her eating habits:

I had done 16 hours of exercise in a weekend. I could not walk anymore. It felt like my muscles were melting. It took me hours to walk the three blocks home. And later in the agency my agent said: “Hey, you should go on a diet.” I freaked out.

In the New York Magazine interview, Crystal Renn addressed the negative critics:

How do you feel about people saying you may have lost too much weight?

But then if I gained weight for them, that would be called a binge-eating disorder. And, you know, a lot happened to me in the last year. About a year and a half ago, I had a lot of personal things going on. And I went hiking and I wanted to get my shit together. I wanted to take care of myself. It had been eight years since I’d worked out. I’d suffered an eating disorder and I used to exercise eight hours a day. But I’d recovered. It’s time to change things, to give it a chance again. I guess you could say that through my life changes and what was going on, I wanted to make some changes in my life and taking care of my health was one of them.

4 thoughts on “I Do Not Feel Betrayed When A Plus Size Model Loses Weight

  1. Hi Corina,
    Radar Online absolutely misquoted me in this piece. When I was asked what types of comments we have received from our readers about Crystal Renn’s weight loss, I gave them both positive and negative comments and they only printed the negative banter and then went further and said it was coming from me. I’m beyond disgusted with this website and will never give them another interview again.
    Madeline Jones
    PLUS Model Magazine

    1. Hi Madeline,

      Thank you so much for commenting! I will absolutely add an update to my original post, and write a new one, clarifying the situation. I appreciate that you took the time to respond so tactfully despite the negative tone of my own article. I would be furious if a website misquoted me in that manner and I will do my (small) part to inform people of what happened.

      Thanks again,

      1. I was, and have been furious about it ever since. I was interviewed once before by them without any issues so I did not see any reason for concern. Once this happened, I found out I was not the only one they have done this to in the plus size community. It’s a shame they have to resort to such shady behavior for “numbers”.
        If I was you I would have felt the same way, so no worries. I have committed my life to celebrating women and will not let this incident stop me. :-)
        Have a great day!
        Madeline Jones

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