I loved Hungry, until I didn't. Co-written by Marjorie Ingall, a magazine contributor (at Self and the the late Sassy), the fact that some parts dragged on like the longest article ever...made sense. But let's start up with the good stuff.
As no stranger to the eating disorder memoir, I dove right in, excited for fresh details cataloging the experiences and situations that ultimately led Renn down the rabbit hole to disorder. She uses clear logic to explain how she ended up unhealthy and makes every effort to reiterate that her disordered actions were just that. The early part of the book, about her childhood and how nature and nurture both added up to ultimate destruction of her self-esteem and body as a result was told really well. You really get a sense that Renn was a girl you could have known growing up, by the way she tells her story. It's relatable and really interesting.
Where the book falters is the recovery portion. It seems as if one day, after enough frustration, she simply decided not to be sick anymore. Her weight fluctuated and she was unhappy for a while, she eventually found her "normal" weight and everything was fine. As she tells her story, after choosing plus size rather than "straight" modeling, she'll interject that she was still screwed up about weight and food, but I would've liked to hear more about that, what work she put into herself mentally and physically to get better. I want to know what battles she had to fight to get taken seriously in an industry prone to tokenism and flightiness, instead of switching between statistics about eating disorders and the awesome people she's been able to work with.
I get that Renn doesn't want to burn any bridges, should she continue to bust down the barriers to work in high fashion and work for those who had previously shunned her. I was disappointed that she wasn't able to get any more specific about her struggles, and the second half of her book was the poorer for it, but it wasn't a bad book by any means.
Renn and Ingall use a casual style, but sometimes the magazine style takes over a little too much. I could have done without the clothes-porn descriptions of Renn's wardrobe and the awesome things she's worn in photo-shoots. Ditto for the overt praise toward designers and photographers. If you're more into fashion than I am, maybe it'll be a plus, but I hardly expected to hear what any photographer is really like from a still-working model.
It's not as serious a memoir as others I've read, it's not the most dramatic book about a disorder that I've ever read either. It is, however, an interesting look at the messages that women are sent, explicitly and implicitly by the world of fashion and the attitudes of those around them, for better and for worse.