America's Next Top Model starts its lucky 13th season (or 'cycle' in CWspeak) next month, ushering in a new league of young women vying for that kind of fleeting semi-famehood only Tyra Banks can bestow. This time 'round, Tyra's throwing us a real curveball; none of the contestants pass the 6 foot mark, making these girls the shortest class paraded past the show's fabulous judges (the teeniest is only 5'3'').
Unfortunately, Tyra must have gotten so caught up with this small love idea that she neglected to sign up any plus size models. ANTM's (if, very possibly, totally contrived) openness to plus size contestants made it more friendly, or at least less viciously obnoxious than other model/fashion reality shows. But it seems Whitney Thompson, cycle 10 contestant and the show's first plus size model to win the competition, satisfied some bizarre model affirmative action program, as competitors of a more substantial body type have since been strangely absent from the ANTM runway.
Chances are the newest line-up of starry-eyed women will still be met with vigorous criticisms on weight and body image, despite their bittiness. Such is the industry I suppose: a world where size 10 is abnormally large, size 2 isn't small enough, and the no-man's land in between will leave you out of work. I don't think it's to be understood (at least not without inducing a migraine). Fashion politics seem to be just as conniving and irritating as Bill Lumbergh's managerial strategy in Office Space, only more glamorized. And that bungling, outrageous political process, most definitely, is what drives viewers--the clothes, the hair, the aspirational lifestyle aside, the show is, very simply, a circus. A crazy, couture, Tyra-fied circus.
Cycle 13's girls are up and ready to be discovered on the Page Six website . It'll be interesting to see Tyra's reaction to the vertically challenged: aka, how much air time the supermodel gives to her revolutionary and stereotype-wrecking gimmick. Or perhaps this short thing really will appeal to agencies, and land one of these girls the career that none of the other women have really seen come to fruition. I mean, I saw Jaslene Gonzalez on a float at the Gay Pride Parade. Caridee English had that awful reality show spot on Oxygen, and was in Gawker a little while ago for trashing her sublet. And Adrianne Curry married/divorced/didn't marry (I have no idea) that Brady Bunch guy. But supermodels? Where have they all gone?
Cycle 13 contestants on Page Six
America's Next Top Model's Official Page
photo courtesy eonline.com