Ok, I admit, America’s Next Top Model is a guilty pleasure of mine. I love fashion (even if most of it excludes women of my size) and I’m an amateur photographer, so it has a lot going for it as far as guilty pleasures go. All that said, it’s still a modeling show and still has a lot of the drawbacks of the modeling industry as a whole.
“Full-figured” or “plus-sized” models have not fared well on the show. They have had token representation, but it’s been tokenism at its worst. There is usually one girl per season, and that one is usually a size 6 at most. Last season, Sarah Banks Hartshorn lost a whopping 3-1/2 pounds, which dropped her from the “plus” designation, and the judges (who included Twiggy, a woman who made even Fran Drescher insecure about her tiny body) decided that she was too small for plus size modeling, and too large for anything else. Thus she was eliminated for being too small and too large at the same time!
As much as I love Whitney (and wish that they had left her as a brunette, as I thought it suited her better), when it got down to her, Fatima, and Anya, I felt sure that the two willowy women would be chosen for the Donatella Versace runway show. If nothing else, I figured (pardon the pun) that the dresses would be in “model sizes” and that Whitney would be eliminated for that reason, if for nothing else. I was pleasantly shocked when the two chosen were Whitney and Anya. I had thought for weeks that Anya, who won four challenges to Whitney’s three, would win the competition.
All through the cycle, the judges had accused her of coming across as phony. Last night Paulina Porizkova called her a ham. I was shocked when Miss J, who I tend to find nauseatingly smug and who tends to be very uncomplimentary of the “plus sized” models, came to her defense saying that she probably developed the facade to deal with the fat stigma she’s experienced. My jaw dropped, not only that weight stigma was being addressed as having negative consequences, but that it was Miss J making the observation. Tyra promptly stuck a pin in Jay’s theory by saying “but this is modeling…in the real world she’s just a hot girl.” I found this comment both comforting (in its implied condemnation of modeling standards) and unsettling in its dismissiveness of Whitney’s stated experience of always being “the fat girl”.
Jezebel has the Cycle 10 season from soup to nuts.
I have fantasies of an entire “Plus Size” cycle. I’m not talking size 6 or 8 “plus” sizes, either. I’m talking a minimum size of, say, an American 22. They could have Velvet D’Amour as the season’s fourth judge. I know that there’s about as much chance of that’s happening as there is of Piggy Moo‘s winning the 2008 Grammy, but a girl can dream…
In the meantime, please excuse me while I take a moment to do a little happy dance that the size 00 didn’t turn out to be the default winner, yet again.