Stay Connected


Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content


Model Crystal Renn 'I Was Going to Die'

Posted on





During the darkest moments of her battle with anorexia, which started when she was 14, “I had to imagine food, because I wouldn’t eat it,” says model Crystal Renn. Pressured by agents to keep her 5’9″ frame at only 95 lbs., it took Renn three years of starving herself “to finally realize I was going to die for a job,” she says. In 2003 Renn got healthy—and relaunched herself as a successful plus-size model, even scoring gigs for the likes of Dolce & Gabbana. In this excerpt from her new memoir, Hungry, Renn, now 23, traces the roots of her obsession with being thin—and how she overcame it.

The [modeling] Scout leaped to his feet. “Oh my God, you’re gonna be a supermodel!” he said. He showed me a picture of Gisele. “That could be you,” he said. “There’s just one thing. You’d have to lose a bit of weight.” I was five-eight and weighed 165 pounds. I needed to get to 110. My project was weight loss. I lost twenty-eight pounds then stalled. I cranked up my diet. I ate little more than lettuce, drank Diet Coke, and chewed gum. I’d dump in packets of aspartame in water and pretend I was drinking a milk shake. My weight dipped below 130. I lost my period.

I joined the thousands of leggy young girls trotting around the city all day, lugging portfolios. But even with all that walking, I ran calculations in my head: How many calories had I burned? I joined two gyms. I’d spend four hours at one and four at the other, pounding away on the treadmills and ellipticals. I woke up regularly in the night, my mouth watering. I’d run to the kitchen, fill a spoon of Skippy, and cram it into my mouth. Then visions of being on a runway would flash in my head. I’d run to the sink and spit desperately and return to bed with a growling stomach.

Despite how hard I worked to stay thin, the numbers on the scale kept creeping up: 105, 111, 123. When I arrived for [one] job, the photographer flipped out. He screamed, “I can’t use her! She’s huge!” I couldn’t deny [it]. For my business, I was fat. I was a size 4. The casting director walked up to me and said brusquely, “You have to leave.”

Something snapped. I knew I was never going to weigh ninety-five pounds again. I was done. I told [my agent] everything. She said, “As long as you don’t gain more, you can still work. Or I suppose there’s plus-size,” she said dismissively. “Think about whether you really want to give up.” “I want to be plus-size,” I said.

I wasn’t sure where my career was going. But I wasn’t scared. I gained weight. I stopped counting calories. I didn’t weigh myself, so I don’t know how much I weighed when my period came back. It took a while to get used to my filled-out face and body. I had to learn new angles, new expressions. I [became] a far better model. Work began to pour in. I’ve come a long way. And the notion that someone as sick as I used to be can now represent a realistic ideal of female beauty and health, is a little bit miraculous.