Crystal Renn on skinny pics: “Don’t make me into something I’m not”

22nd July 2010

Crystal Renn on skinny pics: “Don’t make me into something I’m not”

Plus-size model and body image darling Crystal Renn and blogger Leslie Goldman appeared on the Today show to discuss the recent airbrushing scandal of Crystal by photographer Nicholas Routzen. I found her to be extremely smart and eloquent in her response to the situation, as well as to the pervasive issues plaguing plus-size models.

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Renn also earlier spoke with Glamour about her reaction to the photos, explaining:

Well, I was shocked. When I saw the pictures, I think I was silent for a good five minutes, staring with my mouth open. I don’t know what was done to those photos or who did it, but they look retouched to me. And listen, everybody retouches, but don’t make me into something I’m not.

I look like me; I look strong. But in the new pictures…well, that body doesn’t look like my body. It doesn’t. Having had an eating disorder, I know what that very thin body looks like on me, and it’s not something I find attractive. It’s not something I aspire to.

I feel completely confident in my own health because I know I don’t look like that, but even to see it in an image was really disturbing to me.

Airbrushing a model beyond recognition is unethical in more ways than one, but given Crystal’s hard-fought battle against anorexia and her public campaign to raise awareness of the disorder, this act of virtually whittling her back to those dark days is especially heinous. Even more ironically, photographer Nicholas Routzen shot and altered these images to promote his nonprofit charity Fashion for Passion, which supports arts and music programs for children. Ehem, Nicholas? It may be a little difficult to inspire a passion for the arts in children who are too obsessed with looking like the unrealistic and unattainable airbrushed images they see in magazines and the media.

Your thoughts on the whole debacle?

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This entry was posted on Thursday, July 22nd, 2010 at 5:30 pm and is filed under Anorexia, Body Image, Fashion, Rachel. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

There are currently 15 responses to “Crystal Renn on skinny pics: “Don’t make me into something I’m not””

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  1. 1 On July 22nd, 2010, SteveD said:

    Makes you wish for the film days. Photoshop work can be overdone. It is one of my biggest problems with local camera club. Photography that crosses the line. In commercial world some think anything goes.


  2. 2 On July 22nd, 2010, Midnite said:

    I think that Crystal should have looked at the un-retouched pics before accusing the photographer of “changing her figure”. These are not retouched:

    The problem here seems that Crystal’s brain has an ingrained image of her old self, and having lost weight so fast she still’s not used to her present image. She is that thin, which is not bad or good, it just IS.

  3. 3 On July 22nd, 2010, Anna said:

    Wow, what a JERK for doing this to her. I was going to say “Poor Crystal” but she’s such a strong woman so I don’t feel pity for her, I feel outraged WITH her.

  4. 4 On July 22nd, 2010, Crimson Wife said:

    She’s gorgeous and it makes me angry that the idiot photographer is so caught up in the fashion world’s unrealistic standards he couldn’t recognize that.

    I was less than pleased, however, at the Today show’s use of the term “real woman” to describe Renn. “Real women” come in all shapes and sizes, from petite to Amazonian.

  5. 5 On July 23rd, 2010, Jackie said:

    I thought Crystal did an excellent job of advocating for herself and plus-size people in the industry and outside of it. She came across as being very intelligent. I also loved her eye makeup in the photo that ended up being retouched, with her having curly hair like I do naturally, reminded me of how I looked when I would dress Goth in high school.

  6. 6 On July 23rd, 2010, A small real woman said:

    I admire her… Real women do come in all sizes. And at five feet tall, I had significant health issues with hypertension and prediabetes blood sugars at a size 10. Size 10 is unhealthily fat on me–and looks great on her. And one’s pant size doesn’t really reflect one’s muscles or fat or imperfections

    -A petite size 4 who has midriff flab and cellulite but who feels fabulous anyway!

  7. 7 On July 23rd, 2010, Regina T said:

    Crystal is so good at standing up for herself and bringing attention to what was once a “hidden” method of fashion photography. There was a time when the photographer had to have actual skill that would depict the subject in a way that represented the theme of the photograph. Photoshopping was done only to remove a stray hair or blemishes…not elongate your neck, change your eye color and alter the actual shape of your body so that you don’t even look like yourself. And it’s being done EVERYWHERE. Case in point: My husband’s niece had senior portraits done a couple of years ago. At her graduation party they had her entire spread of 80+ photos laid out on the coffee table and mounted around the room. I couldn’t believe how altered and unlike her the photos actually looked. Here was a beautiful, thin, blond haired, popular, 18 year old girl who looked in those photos like someone else’s niece. She was taller, her eyes were bluer than the sky, she had no freckles or moles, skin softened and smoothed, her volleyball buff arms de-muscularized, her butt reduced, hair highlighted and lips thickened. She was flawless….and someone else completely. My husband and I were shocked…but the saddest part was that my niece was thrilled with her pictures. Everything that made her unique and different was removed from all of those pictures. That cute heart shaped freckle on her arm, her grey eyes, that strong physique most people would kill for…gone.

  8. 8 On July 23rd, 2010, dominique said:

    Do we know if somebody asked Routzen to make her look so skinny? I don’t want to say he’s an idiot if he’s not the one making decisions here; however, anybody who thought it was a good idea to modify her appearance like that is sadly mistaken. It makes me angry because it sounds just like some kind of passive agressive resistance from the fashion industry facing the fact that people are fed up to see scaringly thin models everywhere. I know that some people are naturally very thin; thus I believe that we should see: short, tall, skinny, curvy, multiethnic models. And, I can’t stand the idea that «it’s easier to dress a cloth hanger». I mean, some people are calling thin women «cloth hangers»!! I am deathfat myself, and as I don’t accept being called a bean pot or more offensive words (fat pig, whale, cow and all) I also despise every name calling at every kind of body. What they did to Crystal, to me, is equivalent to name calling. It hurts, it’s shameful, and it shows a huge disrespect for her. :( How sad and frustrating.

  9. 9 On July 23rd, 2010, Rachel said:

    @Dominique: From what I understand, Routzen commissioned these photos himself for the nonprofit charity he runs. He also admitted on his blog to retouching the images, so I imagine that he’s the “idiot” who made the decision to retouch the photos.

    @Midnite: Actually, they are quite retouched. The Today Show shows before/after images and Crystal’s waist has been clearly whittled down at least several inches. Crystal’s agent also took a video of the shoot and it’s been posted online at Check out the video footage and then look at the images and you can tell that she has clearly undergone a digital diet.

  10. 10 On July 23rd, 2010, Alyssa (The 40 year-old) said:

    I thought Ms. Renn was GREAT in the interview, especially when Meredith Viera “accused” her of losing weight. When, OH, WHEN will we EVER realize that a woman’s size, even if she is in the public eye, even if she is a [gasp] “plus-sized” MODEL, is REALLY NO ONE’S BUSINESS, except for the people making her clothes, so that they know the clothes will fit!
    We CANNOT win. We are too fat, too skinny, or hypocrites. Sometimes all of the above, all at the same time.
    I also wished Ms. Viera would have let Leslie speak more, seeing as she flew in from Chicago for the appearance! Doesn’t a story like this deserve more time? It’s a 4-hour show, fer cryin’ out loud!

  11. 11 On July 29th, 2010, Eisnacht said:

    Ok, how is that woman “plus-sized”?

  12. 12 On July 30th, 2010, Thoughtful said:

    Annoying as this issue is, I am happy that Crystal and blogs like this one are fighting back. We want to see what Crystal looks like, not somebody else’s idea of what she “should” look like. I am tired of people trying to project their insecurities onto someone else, especially someone as confident as Crystal. It’s as if the photographer was trying to take away from her as a person by literally reducing her.

    My own experience with this madness: some time ago I was interviewed and photographed for my company’s newsletter. When I got a copy of the newsletter, I saw they had photoshopped about 5 pounds of make up on me. I looked like I’d been hit with Homer Simpson’s makeup gun. Because, you see, I wasn’t good enough as I was so I had to be “improved.” (Of course, never mind that the photoshopper himself wasn’t exactly Mr. Perfect.)

  13. 13 On August 2nd, 2010, Rachel said:

    @Eisnacht: She isn’t, by any “sane” definition of the term. But as Crystal explains in the clip, she’s considered plus-size by the modeling industry, in which plus-sizes begin at size 8 or so.

  14. 14 On August 18th, 2010, TLM said:

    What struck me is the way neither Meridith Vieira or that other woman blinked that size 10 was considered “plus size” under any circumstances. Since when is a 10 plus??

    I remember growing up that a size 12 was an “average” wonan and an average size. Now 10 is plus and 4 is normal? People have lost their friggin’ minds!!!

  15. 15 On November 20th, 2010, Midnite said:

    I saw this pics today and it reminded me of this debate:

    I truly believe that Crystal -back then- had a disphormic view of herself and ended up blaming the photographer for her own issues. I don’t think Harper’s Bazaar didn’t retouch this pics to make her look smaller (neither the photographer from this discussion). I wonder if she reacted the same way to these pics.

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