Crystal Renn's memoir of surviving an eating disorder to become a top model. After years of struggling to make it as a "straight" model, Renn found herself on top as a plus-size model, landing in Vogue, Dolce & Gabbana ads, and Elle.
As a survivor of an eating disorder, I usually refrain from reading these types of memoirs, because the author usually writes not for empowerment but for sympathy. Hungry is different. Crystal Renn's memoir of her modeling career and battle with anorexia is extraordinary. Renn was a Mississippi teenager struggling to fit in when a model scout showed her a Vogue cover featuring supermodel Gisele Bundchen, saying simply: "This could be you." Renn became a vigilant dieter, often consuming only lettuce, Diet Coke, and gum, and she exercised daily, sometimes for eight hours. "I wanted to be less, always less," she writes. Once a healthy 14-year-old at 5'8" tall and 165 pounds, Renn dropped to 98 pounds in less than a year. That got her a ticket to New York City and a $250,000 modeling contract. Renn (with co-author Marjorie Ingall) describes her illness in graphic detail-and I'd caution anyone with an eating disorder that this book may trigger unhealthy thoughts. But those with healthy bodies will rejoice at Renn's recovery: after nearly losing her mind, Renn quit her obsessive exercising and started eating. Surprisingly, this helped her career: after struggling to make it as a "straight" model, Renn found herself on top as a plus-size model, landing in Vogue, Dolce & Gabbana ads, and Elle. In addition to Renn's personal story, Hungry offers astounding statistics on the rise of eating disorders, as well as a precise breakdown of why our culture is weight-obsessed and how and why we should change it. That such change is possible Renn's experience makes clear. And when she recalls walking beside Jean Paul Gaultier at his fashion show, writing, "Get a load of me, black-clad, hungry bitches," you cheer.