The Camera Doesn’t Lie…Or Does It? Extreme Photo Retouching of “Plus-Size” Model

Crystal Renn is one of today’s most successful working models.

If you’ve come across any of her latest work you might be surprised to learn that she is actually a “plus-size” model.

In fact, when photographers and designers meet her they are surprised by how small she is and often use photo retouching techniques to enhance her curves and make her appear bigger than she actually is.

However, last week pictures of the model looking strikingly svelte surfaced, starting rumors that Renn had lost a great deal of weight, but alas the art of photo retouching was really to blame – this time making her appear much, much thinner.

When I first saw the images I instantly felt angry and shocked (check out a comparison of the photos over at Jezebel). Why would such a beautiful woman who has constantly championed her “plus-size” body go to such an extreme? Was she sick? Had she fallen victim to an eating disorder again? To be honest, I started to worry.

Luckily, the pictures do not reflect reality and Renn was just as shocked and angry as I was when the images surfaced. Glamour editor-in-chief Cindi Leive actually sat down with Renn to discuss the pictures and Renn’s open and honest discussion with Leive reaffirms her commitment to beauty at any size.

Here are some of my favorite highlights from Renn during their chat:

  • On seeing the images for the first time: “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.” [Photographer Nicholas Routzen admits that he "shaped" the image and says he "did nothing that I wouldn’t do to anyone. I’m paid to make women look beautiful."]

  • On the body the pictures show her to have: “…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.”

  • On her former body as a straight model: “Back then, you could see ribs everywhere. My legs, not only did they not touch, I mean there was nothing to grab. It was just skin and bone. And that goes for my arms as well. Thank God I don’t look anything like that now.”

  • On breaking the thin-beauty ideal: “I absolutely do believe in beauty at every size…And for that girl who’s thinking she has to be so thin to be accepted? You don’t. It’s not true. I starved myself to be successful, when in fact my real success only came when I became more confident.”

  • On the power of confidence: “The other reason I get treated with respect now, though, is my confidence…People are way more accepting of me now that I accept myself. And that’s not only true for work, but that’s true in everyday life.”

  • On her vision for the future of fashion: “Right now, you might see a runway show with all these girls who are size 2s, and then one who’s a size 16—that means you really notice size. Well, imagine you see a runway show where you see all different types: petite, tall, black, white, Asian, everybody’s in there. You’re just going to see beautiful women. There’d be no more weight debate…I guess you could say it’s quite grandiose, but I don’t care. I have to believe that what I say matters.”

And that’s the beauty of Ms. Crystal Renn. She does believe that what she says matters and it does. She could have stayed silent when she saw the images but she cared enough to continue to share her message of body acceptance and beauty at every size. If more models (plus-size or otherwise) did this too it could be a completely different world.

Maybe my vision is grandiose too, but I have to believe what I say matters too.


photo credit: thanks to tibchris via flickr


LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

Emma S.
Emma S.5 years ago

I genuinely think she looks tons better before the photoshopping. She's not even plus-size, but I do think she's a positive role-model for 'bigger' women everywhere.

KrassiAWAY B.
Krasimira B.5 years ago

I hate PhotoShop.

Paulina Magdalena

I do not know maybe this is why the grandmother I am Polish but I see that a woman accepts his figure was not what it is and it's all cool because we have so few people who do

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W.6 years ago

Both look ghastly anyway...

Carol Roe
Carol R.6 years ago

Thin is not in!

Hannah H.
Hannah H.6 years ago