Crystal Renn, 24, beat anorexia to become one of America's top models - and an outspoken critic of the "thin equals pretty" mindset that prevails in fashion circles.
She calls the day she posed for this picture for her 2009 book "Hungry" one of the most important in her life. "I was ecstatic to the point where sitting still was nearly impossible," she says. "I was hopeful, full of passion, and believed everything was possible."
Crystal now enjoys great success as a plus-sized model, though she doesn't like the term. But the industry hasn't fundamentally changed, she says.
She was recently horrified to see this absurdly "airbrushed" image, which she says made her look like a size two instead of her real size 10. The widely circulated shot made people think her anorexia had returned.
"Friends had been emailing me, asking if I was all right," she says. "I was, but I was worried about girls with anorexia who would see these pictures and think that thin was better."
Crystal, shown here with her grandmother, grew up in Mississippi and now lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. She says she was always hungry as a child - "hungry for life, experience, and knowledge - a hunger never satiated."
Hunger is also the title of her book, published last year.
Crystal says she's passionately interested in the arts - something her grandmother encouraged from an early age. "She encouraged me from the beginning to create, but most importantly to look at my surroundings, appreciating beauty wherever I go," she says. "I look quite focused in this picture and would say that I haven't changed much. Ha!"
Crystal, here in her green belt, was devoted to martial arts as a child - a devotion that taught her self-discipline. "I was so determined to elevate through the belts, that need to succeed has never left me," she says.
"I felt awkward and out of place while also dealing with the normal changes of puberty happening to my body and mind," Crystal says. "I felt like i was going a little crazy with my adolescent hormones running amok."
By age 16, Crystal's battle with anorexia had begun. Why the smile? Because "it is a modeling picture, and I am 'modeling," says Crystal.
She had just signed with a top agency in New York City and was looking forward to a big career.
At this point, she says, "I didn't know that I would get so sick that I could have lost my life. I am oblivious to such things in this picture. No time to think dark thoughts when there are places to be, jobs to do, runways to walk. I only saw stars."
It was warm the day this photo was taken, but Crystal wore long sleeves anyway - to hide signs of her eating disorder.
"I am extremely ill in this picture," she says. "I wanted to cover every part of my body. I was so deep into my anorexia that the compulsive need to cover my body was always there."
She says her anorexia affected her metabolism as well as her appearance. "As sick as I was, no matter the temperature I would walk around shivering because I had no fat to insulate my body," she recalls. "I was freezing on the hottest days."