America’s Next Top Model is back, and the contestants areshorter than ever? This season, Tyra Banks has decided to cut the short girls a break and she’s excluding tall girls the way that girls under 5’7” have been historically barred from the runway. One of these girls is going to win and prove to the world that you can be short and still stand tall, and model.
Perhaps Tyra should be commended for going against the grain by trying to insert a few girls here and there who wouldn’t fit into the modeling industry according to its standards. America’s Next Top Model gave us plus size Whitney Thompson, who is nowhere near a size 0, and next it’s going to produce a girl that doesn’t measure even close to 5’10”. It’s yet to be seen whether these girls will really make it big in the modeling world, but that’s a whole ‘nother Top Model issue. The main issue here is whether Tyra and these girls are really defying the norm.
Take the “Make Me Tall” photoshoot, in which the girls were encouraged to make themselves look taller than they really are. During judging, some of the girls were criticized for making themselves look shorter. But wait a minute-didn’t you say that it was okay to be short and still model? That kind of makes this photoshoot one of the biggest contradictions in the history of Top Model. It’s like Tyra isn’t challenging current modeling standards after all. What she’s really doing is allowing girls that were previously denied to conform to them. Cycle- of America’s Next Top Model is telling us that “short models can be tall,” rather than “models can be short.”
The critique isn’t necessarily that Tyra is failing to break down barriers. Of course modeling has to have standards. What’s next, a cycle full of unattractive girls, and a cycle of overweight girls after that? That’s a huge exaggeration, but it’s meant to illustrate the fact that not everyone can be a model, or else it wouldn’t be modeling anymore. Maybe the modeling industry needs a bit of a makeover, but you can’t strip it apart until nothing’s left.
The real problem is the apparent hypocrisy. Modeling has strict, sometimes harsh requirements and it’s okay if you and America’s Next Top Model support that, that’s your right. You don’t have to pretend to believe and say otherwise. And by the way, if it’s okay to be just the way you are, it’s odd to spend an entire show segment demonstrating how the real reason you looked fat was because of unflattering photo angles.