Wanna be on top? Yes, yes I do.
I’m still waiting for the petite-people-get-modeling-tutorials cycle, and then I’m so there. Until then, my judgey judgey self is happy to talk about how hilarious shit on this show is but also how much I love Tyra Banks.
The current season of America’s Next Top Model that’s airing is totes different from EVERYTHING before, and that is BIG. According to Tyra, at least. Miss Jay and Mr. Jay are gone (le sigh), everybody in the cycle has to be enrolled at an institute of higher education (or at least of certification), and instead of judging depending on people who actually know the shit that goes on in the modeling industry (for better or for worse), it’s now judges plus fans on Facebook. One hilarious thing about this is the girls are on the confession cam complaining that eliminated girls still get to do all of the photo shoots (and then one will get to come back). How else would you film a show where the results have to be secret until airing unless you keep putting photo shoots from all the contestants up each week? Duh. Anyway, it goes to show how college does not make you smart.
Anyway, this is the type of reality show I like, based on the two criteria I have: 1. It is a competition, not just a following-the-lives-of-asshats docu-fake. 2. It is based on the opinions and critiques of people who actually have the clout.
There are a lot of problems with the modeling industry, but what I think about this show is interesting is that it does two things simultaneously: 1. It acknowledges the system and thus teaches its contestants how to work within it, making sure they know that if they’re not tall, they won’t make it; if they can’t do “editorial” shoots that make no sense and probably often portray women as helpless or objectified, they won’t make it; if they can’t stay skinny or stay plus-sized (this is why I’ll never be a model, because I’m never anything but a 4 or a 6, and that seems to be no man’s land for editorial fashion), they won’t make it. It’s sad, but if that’s really the career goal of the girls on the show, it’s only fair that they know what to expect. 2. If Tyra Banks were starting as a model today with her current body, I doubt she’d get a job. She’s older, so that probably explains some of her body changes, but also she is respected and established enough not to have to adhere to certain standards anymore, so she can be a bit bigger (though she’s probably no bigger than I am, except for her height; it’s just that since everyone on television is so skinny, she looks nearly fat in comparison sometimes). I’m assuming that is why she always invites at least one plus-sized model on the show (though quite frankly the current one, Yvonne, looks like my size, so I’m confused as to what “plus-sized” means in real life vs. what it means in modeling).
With regards to my quest for fashion understanding and knowledge, I’m not sure that this show teaches me anything except that the only way I will ever be a model is if I get back in shape enough to model exercise clothing or if I’m famous for something else first. Not that I’m aspiring to be a model, but that’s probably the only takeaway lesson. This show is totally about the drama, where as the show I’m talking about tomorrow, Project Runway, is about drama but also about the fashion, and you can actually learn how to style your clothes or come up with some ideas on what to wear based on it. This show gives me nothing but entertainment, but I’ll take it, because it’s oh so good at entertaining.
General awesomesauce things in the show: Tyra Banks! Feeling intellectually superior to others! Sometimes really interesting photo shoots. Beautiful people.
General problematic things on the show: Everything that is problematic about fashion and modeling; I really don’t think ANTM does anything to make it worse. It shows it like it is, as fa as I can tell. Not that I’ve ever been a model. Or ever will be, as I’ve explained.
Final verdict: Quite frankly, I think this show is a lot less damaging to girls’ psyches than, say, Victoria’s Secret (see: The Lingerie Addict, Braless in Brazil). I think, like most things in the media, the people who end up damaged from it are the people who would be damaged from anything because they haven’t been raised by conscientious parents or paid attention the countless media sources and educational resources that strive to combat media influence by encouraging media literacy and female empowerment. For a person with a brain and some critical thinking skills? Just a really fun show to watch and poke fun at and secretly want to be on.