When Crystal was 14 years old, she thought her dreams came true when a talent agent encouraged her to pursue a career as a fashion model. There was just one catch. "He said, you have to lose about 10 inches off of your hips," Crystal says. At the time she was 5'9" and weighed 165 pounds. "I wanted it so badly and I thought that's what I needed to do to get there. So it didn't seem, like, that crazy to me. It was just my dream."

Her weight loss plan began with eating healthy foods like whole wheat bread, egg whites and fruits and vegetables. After losing 30 pounds, Crystal hit a plateau and began taking increasingly drastic measures to become model-skinny. Even when she'd dropped down to 110 pounds, she says the agent pushed her to lose even more. To get even skinnier, Crystal began exercising as much as three hours a day, seven days a week—and if she ate something she thought she should not have, she says she'd exercise for eight hours in one day!

After two years of extreme dieting, Crystal's weight dropped to a dangerously thin 95 pounds. At this weight, her agent was finally satisfied. Crystal moved to New York, landed a contract and began doing as many as three modeling jobs a day.

After six months of fashion shoots and runways, Crystal's body began to break down. "I was feeling very sick and very unhappy. My hair was falling out. My skin started to get a very gray tint and I lost my period for three years," she says. "I thought that if I keep going in the way that I am, I absolutely could die from this."
Crystal and Oprah

Crystal refused to continue destroying her body—and also refused to give up on her dreams of modeling. Now she has made fashion history.

She's one of the most successful plus-size models ever. She's been featured in six Vogue magazines and is the first size-12 woman to earn the highly coveted Dolce & Gabbana ad campaign.

"I was working out hours a day, and I didn't know that I could be a plus-size model and be who I was meant to be, ultimately, and be a happy person," she says.

Crystal says she'd like to see fashion adopt a more open approach to models' bodies. "I almost think that they should just have all different types of women," she says. "They should have petite women, they should have thin women, they should have curvy women. So if I'm a young girl looking up at the runway, then I'm like, 'Well, my body type's up there and I'm fine.'"