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America's Next Top Model

During the show, there were two competitions. The first competition, the girls ran about a garden to try and apply makeup the fastest and look the best in CoverGirl’s new line of makeup. The second, and larger, competition was a photo shoot trying to sell ice cream. The trick to the shoot was that the women had to be shot nude covered only in bright paint and candy.

The show airs through Casey Warner Television on Wednesdays at 7pm and Encore on Sundays at 8pm. The show is a competition between young women who want a chance to get a step up into the modeling community and plenty of publicity. I believe the show is targeted towards young to middle aged women. Tyra Banks, the host, tries to help women feel more empowered and help them feel more beautiful within their own bodies, but her show contradicts these sentiments through her comments as well as the judges comments.

The show begins with 13 women and with each episode, one woman gets eliminated. I saw the third episode entitled “The Girl That Cries All the Time.? There are two ‘plus-size’ women on the show, and they have a more difficult time on the photo shoots than do the smaller women. For example, during the first competition, the women were all to choose spring dresses to wear before racing to apply spring CoverGirl makeup. The dresses that were available were tailored almost entirely to the smaller girls. The ‘plus-size’ models had much difficulty trying to find anything that would fit half as well as the dresses that fit the others.

Not only were the dresses not fitted appropriately, but during the photo shoot, the comments directed towards the ‘plus-size’ women were much different than the other women. During the shoot, the photographer’s assistant told one of the larger women to suck in her stomach and to let her face take control of the pose and the photograph rather than her body. During the smaller women’s shots, the focus was on their faces and expressions rather than their bodies much less their stomachs. I’m beginning to believe that the show is focused on the women’s faces only as long as their body is ‘perfect’ and petite; it is when you are bigger that your body becomes the focus and the face less important.

Not only were the comments directed towards the ‘plus-size’ women against their bodies, but also the tone seemed to be towards a homogenizing of bodies. The need for sameness was quite prevalent throughout the show. However, there was a pull towards the skinnier side of all. When it came down to elimination time, Tyra continued the negative comments towards one of the ‘plus-size’ women. It is as if the larger women are not seen as women but as imperfect bodies.

What I found interesting about the show was that after viewing it and reading the article, “Introduction: Gender and the plus-size body,? I was reaffirmed by my belief that Tyra was not quite living up to the standards of the media or her own words. According to Moorti and Ross, “Orbach suggests,

The Body is the Message? contends that because all knowledge on this topic emanates from the media, contemporary scholarship should pose a new set of questions that appropriately capture women’s mediated sense of self.
Although it seems that the media needs to step up to the plate and recognize that they hold the responsibility for ensuring that people’s self-esteem remains at a decent level, we cannot depend on it. Later on in the article, Moorti and Ross state that,
The media world that celebrates the thin female body rarely offers weight loss surgery as an acceptable means to attain the ‘idealized’ body.
It sounds much like the show’s mantra. Tyra and her crew talk about being healthy, independent, and beautiful, but what you don’t see them suggest is a means to become thinner. It parades these thin women that are ‘perfect save their faces’ and the ‘plus-size’ women whose faces are less important than their bodies which lack.