Dish-Interested: Deconstructing ‘America’s Next Top Model’s’ Skinny Bitches, Zit by Zit

tyra-in-full-effect

Photo courtesy of CWTV.com

“Wanna be on top?”

Tyra Banks’ breathless utterance during the opening montage of America’s Next Top Model (ANTM) elicits an almost Pavlovian response from those of us who have loved it since its inception.

Now in its 13th “cycle” (“seasons,” evidently, are so last season), ANTM follows a dozen girls aspiring for the Top Model crown, which comes complete with a Cover Girl contract and a spread in Seventeen magazine.

The girls participate in several photo shoots which are reviewed by a panel of judges; chiefly among them is the show’s host Tyra Banks, also known as World’s Supreme Egomaniac, who continually ups the ante for being annoying as hell in each episode, only to top it the following week.

But underneath all that bravado we know Tyra has a good heart, not only because she reminds us of this constantly, but because the girls she chooses for the competition are atypical beauties designed to challenge our notion of what is beautiful.

For instance, the current cycle is devoted exclusively to “short” girls — 5’7″ and under — who are generally excluded from supermodel status because of towering amazons like Tyra. And in past cycles, there have been some kooky competitors: ones with tattoos, Asperger’s Syndrome, vision problems, and even a pre-op transsexual (the only one who admitted it, anyway).

Winners have included a plus-sized girl and one who overcame a nearly crippling struggle with the skin disorder psoriasis. As a 5′ 7″ plus-size girl who’s no stranger to weird skin conditions (turns out they were food allergies), I would like to thank Tyra for giving me a reason to feel beautiful, something I never had before I began to watch the show.

Just kidding!

That’s not why I watch it. Sure, it makes me feel good, but not because of its pandering to the “excluded girl,” which is too transparent to be truly effective — especially when one’s jaded and in her thirties. No, I like America’s Next Top Model for more deliciously sinister reasons.

The real appeal: The show focuses on a household of skinny bitches competing for Top Skinny Bitch status. Most of the girls are fresh out of high school, which means they’re emotionally immature, prone to melodrama, wildly self-assured and used to being the prettiest girl in the room.

Then the judges break each bitch down, zit by zit, with a hyper-critical eye, evaluating them on their weight, skin, proportions, runway walk, bone structure, personal style and, of course, the eternal issue of, “Is she really a model or just another pretty girl?”

Predictably, the criticisms shatter the contestants and their overblown egos, resulting in many house fights, tearful phone calls home and wasted hours spent flipping through beauty magazines, sighing wistfully as they realize they can never look as flawless as the girls on the page.

Heh heh heh.

Take THAT, skinny bitches from high school who thought they were the shit! You’re not a Cover Girl after all, and the judges think your thighs are fat. Did you hear what Tyra said? She thinks you’re just “a girl from the mall, not a real model” so quit acting like an entitled brat and do your calculus homework instead of bullying me to doing it. Plus you look like a slut.

Admittedly, I’ve seen Heathers quite a few times, but not since I began watching ANTM. It’s not that I take pleasure in seeing all pretty girls cry over their misshapen cheekbones; it’s just that most of the girls chosen for the show are so deserving of an epic smackdown that schadenfreude has a place here.

With their egos deconstructed, the bright side is that these skinny bitches will hopefully re-enter the world less fixated on their looks and more evolved as human beings.

Hahahahahahaha.

ANTM is the perfect antidote to a bad hair day, or a feeling fat day. It’s living proof that Mean Girls aren’t invincible, that karma really is a bitch and that reality television can be fantastic therapy.

Milla Goldenberg is an L.A.-based writer and editor. Visit her blog @ MillaTimes.com, or send her hate mail @ MillaGoldenberg@aol.com.

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1 comment for “Dish-Interested: Deconstructing ‘America’s Next Top Model’s’ Skinny Bitches, Zit by Zit

  1. November 5, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    “Cycle” as in menstrual cycle. Something the ANTMs can understand.

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