Friday, April 2, 2010

[book] Hungry by Crystal Renn

So recently I just read this book:

It's amazing. The following description is taken directly from its official website:

"At fourteen, I was a regular junior high school student in Clinton, Mississippi, when a modeling scout told me: You could be a supermodel. And then: But you'll have to lose a little weight. For glamour, fame, and escape, I lost 70 pounds.

This is a photo of me at sixteen, when I signed a big modeling contract, moved to New York City, and started traveling around the world. It is also when I developed a ferocious case of anorexia and exercise bulimia, and began to lose my hair, develop frequent bruises, and experience frequent heart palpitations. And still my body refused to remain a size zero. As my weight rebelled, my mania escalated. I experimented with diet drugs and fainted between casting calls, slumping to the sidewalk of Madison Avenue.

Until one day I realized that if I wanted to live, I could no longer starve. I had to get off the crazy-making treadmill. I had to nourish my body and feed my soul. So I ate. And ate. And I returned to my natural size 12 -- the size of the average American and the size I was when I really made it big.

This is a photo of me at eighteen, when I became one of the most successful models in the industry today.

Hungry charts the rise, fall, and rise of Crystal Renn, offering a behind-the-scenes peek into the modeling industry, as well as a trenchant look at our weight-obsessed culture. In this testament to the power of authenticity, Renn illustrates the ways in which the fashion industry is slowly changing and exposes the cold truths about size and sizeism.

An inspiring and cautionary tale, Hungry will resonate with anyone who has battled society's small-minded definitions of beauty."

I just finished reading today. It's the first non-school-assigned book I've read and finished since, well, maybe last year (if you don't count magazines) and I loved it.

I found resonance with this book for many reasons. One, because it is told from a model's perspective--a fashion 'insider,' I suppose. The main reason I picked up this book was because I had never really heard of a model who published an autobiographical sort of book. I wanted to know, "what goes on inside their minds in this industry?" I wanted to understand a bit more of the opposite side of my dream destination.

I aspire to be a fashion photographer. I've had my doubts--What if no one will hire me? Will I ever get recognized? What if it's more terrible than I'd ever imagined? But I am nevertheless resolved to pursue it. And I think, to be a successful fashion photographer, or any photographer in general, you must do three things.

1) Be familiar the history of art. Know history in general. Especially the history of photography and the greatest photographers.

2) Understand your subjects--models.

3) Make your dreams come true with your own edge.

Those three principles are the focus of my goals. Crystal Renn's story definitely pertains to number two.

I feel that, if you can't come to a mutual understanding and connection with your subject, you won't be able to make full use of the potential that you both have (model and photographer). I think the same is true for pretty much any other profession or branch of photography that details involvement between subjects. Sports photography--for example. To take the 'best' photograph possible, you need to understand the sport. When you do that, you can anticipate what's going to happen, and more importantly--where and when. And then you've got yourself that frame you were looking for.

So the main reason I was looking forward to reading Hungry was because I wanted to get a better understanding of life from a model's perspective. It helped. I learned a bit of--what do models look for in a photographer? What have the greatest of photographers done in their experience? What do models enjoy about photoshoots? What do they dislike? What do they think about when they're in a photoshoot? All sorts of such questions have been addressed.

But I also learned that this book had a bigger picture. I think the topics that Crystal Renn details are issues that all teenage girls can relate with. Growing up. Weight. Accepting who we are. Overcoming struggles. Loving.

I don't think you have to be 'fashion-savvy' to get the message of this book (but I guess it'd make more sense to you if you were). Read it.