Top Model Hits Bottom
I've confessed myself a viewer of America's Next Top Model in the past. I have never tried to hide this particular stain on my character.
So last night I showed up for the premiere of the new season, ready to sacrifice a few more brain cells to the insipid cause. And what do I find?
The photo shoot, you see, involved dramatizing "common model stereotypes." Some of them were somewhat amusing, like the one who played the "dumb blonde" by holding a book upside down. Others were nonsensical in that special Top Model way, such as the "black girl trying to look white" shot, which confused me because a) I did not know that was a "common model stereotype" and b) the photo looked like nothing but a black model with blonde streaks in her hair.
The three shots above represent, respectively, the "druggie model," the "anorexic model," and, for good measure, the "bulimic model."
That foolish orange little Jay Manuel, grinning like the fucking Cheshire cat, pronounced the shoot "the most controversial in Top Model history." No, Jay, this is not controversial; this is reprehensible. Controversial challenges status quo. It does not simultaneously glorify and trivialize suffering and death.
At judging, Crazy Tyra lectured the models on the concept of "ugly/pretty"--presenting a beautiful face even in an ugly shot. I get that as a model/fashion idea. I do NOT, however, understand the desire to align beauty with DYING.
Most of the time this show is essentially harmless. Goofy and juvenile, certainly, but no worse. I don't see it as sexist. It's probably the least sexy show on television, and there's nothing inherently wrong with being a model. It's a perfectly legitimate career. But this? Is irresponsible and repulsive. Very, very disappointing.