While we waited for Dell to work a minor miracle—that is, to address our needs on this approximately 2 year old lappy by replacing a hard drive and orchestrating not one but two complete reboots of the system *all while completely under warrantee*—you and I, blog of mine, have fallen seriously behind on the ol’ ANTM recap. Thankfully, Tyra gave a poor sinner like me a bit of a reprieve last week: the mid-cycle recap! Not only did she jog my memory, she gave me one less week through which I need to fly to get up to speed before I dip into tonight’s substantive ep.
I missed the makeover episode, in which they always shear some poor girl’s hair off and she cries and says she looks like a boy (the horror!). Bianca, heretofore known to me only as Queens, was the major target this time, though Ebony also got it bad. Taking off these weaves and wigs is like slash-and-burn farming: nothing grows there for years afterwards. I have some short damned hair, so I don’t get the severe negative reaction they girls have—but as a person with a very stylized look and a specific haircut, hair is a huge part of my identity. And it’s been gratifying to see Bianca toss that wig they fobbed off on her in favour of her eminently better chop job, because short hair does not equal boy. Short hair equals short hair, and Bianca’s begun to own it. I do love a good skull. At the end of the episode, they send the prickly Yalie home. Not a shocker: I still feel like her motivation was about having a conception of what a model is and does, and then enacting that conception. The panel reacted poorly this time, and I read in their reaction the idea that modeling should be from the heart, not the head. Models should be seen and not heard. Unless they’re spokesmodels, as they are in another episode I watched but could not blog. And where, exactly, did Ebony’s personality go? Man, is she a board up there. And that falling on the sword? I called that, on my little couch with my vegetarian dinner in one hand and my remote in the other.
Now, tonight’s episode.
I have wanted so badly for Sarah to do well, not least because she’s a burlesquer and I’ve rolled with my share of the neo-burlesque crowd (holla, Sissy Butch Brothers!). I was not charmed by her audition antics (really, the paper booger trick? That ain’t even vaudeville, honey) and I thought her haircut was very, ah, 1996. It was an improvement over the insipid mop she came in with, but it was not fierce. These criticisms aren’t the point, though. The point is Sarah’s weight.
There’s another thru line to this season apart from the “ANTM goes green” theme, which I cannot help but feel has been summarily dropped. Food and body issues are front and center. But it’s all adding up to me thinking that Tyra, and ANTM doth all protest too much. There’ve been so many references to food, eating, weight, health—and I’m suspicious. “Will we ever have a plus size model” muses Ms. J. You did. You had two last season—did you mean, will we ever have a plus size model that we don’t have to dismiss for reasons totally unrelated to her weight, thankyouverymuch. And, of course, you had this girl, about whom you all lamented: she’s not big enough to be plus, she’s too big for “regular” modeling, she just doesn’t fit. I am not surprised that the industry that Tyra, J, J, and Niles Barker (noted fashion photographer) work in likes a thin girl; I am not surprised that they’re trying to maybe backpedal a bit into “healthy woman” territory. What shocks me is the seeming unselfconsciousness of it all. The recap episode actually had just what I’d been searching/waiting for in my pitch black little size ten heart: a bald demonstration of the hypocrisy that is ANTM’s take on the injustice of (gasp!) sizeism in modeling.
During the Tyra Talkback, cycle winner Dani (she of the overly regional accent—that bit of identity had to go, just like those gap teeth, ladeez) favoured the Hopefuls with a very illustrative story. As a working model, which Dani totally is, Dani was told to lose some weight. Tyra interjects: I was mad! I know how thin she is! Those scumbags, telling a thin girl to get thinner, how dare they, and a model no less! Dani would never sacrifice her health or her body and neither would the Hopefuls, they all immediately supply. So Dani did the only thing she could do, when told by an industry that makes unreasonable and unjust demands on the still developing bodies of young women: she told the client to kiss her plenty slim ass. Okay no, just kidding. She ate healthy and worked out and lost the weight. If you’re confused about the moral here, you’re not the only one. It was emphatically NOT RIGHT, per Tyra and Dani and everyone, for MODELING to ask Dani, thin enough as she is, to lose weight. She sure showed them…by losing weight. It isn’t at all outrageous to find this outrageous. But really, Tyra et al, you can’t set a girl down a path, get indignant about the path, and then wish her luck as she skips down the path.
But back to Sarah. I wanted to like her, and her pics were good enough, but given her background, I expected more. I mean, there was nudie-ness in the recap ep (to my, again, shameful delight), and tonight’s challenge was all about the skimpy Video Vixen wear; where was the sass I thought Sarah must surely have somewheres in there? It was nowhere, and she’s headed home. To my state. So Sarah, give a girl a call when you land back in Massachusetts. We’ll get a damned bite to eat. And maybe after you turn 21, we can get a beer—a not light beer. A stout, maybe, built like you and me: shapely in the glass and thick in the hips. And we can talk about how modeling will never be brought down from the inside, on account of the inability of the master’s tools to disassemble the master’s house.
Labels: ANTM, body image, Boston, gender, health, pop culture, television