"I want to be a model my way." Crystal Renn, 5'9'', size 12; plus-size model
Staying Hungry: "I had to starve myself to learn the big fat lesson that I can be a happy person at any size." As a teenager, Crystal developed anorexia—eating fewer than 1,000 calories a day, doing eight-hour workouts—in pursuit of her modeling dreams, and finally, she says, "my body just said no. I was killing myself."
A Happy Medium: "Plus doesn't mean fat. It is a freeing word—if I gained or lost 10 pounds, I would still work. A regular model has to be size 2 or 4; the plus range is 12 to 24."
Fashion Diversity: "There are no shopping 'can'ts' for me. I wear shorts, no problem. I love belts that show off my waist." Designer clothes aren't as minuscule as they used to be, and runways are more hospitable to average bodies, says Crystal, who has worked with the likes of Jean Paul Gaultier and Dolce & Gabbana.
In the wake of the European backlash against ultrathin mannequins, there may yet be minimum-weight guidelines for models in the United States, although so far the Council of Fashion Designers of America has issued only general statements about promoting "healthy-looking" images.