So it seems that some of you really ran with my story about Whitney’s magical triumph as the winner of this cycle of “America’s Next Top Model.” There were enough, um, passionate comments that it seems necessary to get analytical.
Let’s start with the positive. Whitney, if you’re out there in cyberspace reading this: you’ve got a helluva fan base. Many have taken a shine to the idea that a toothpick with limbs didn’t win big. “Real Girls are not anorexic...Real Girls have meat…Whitney’s got that, thank you,” wrote Mawlo. Reader Wendy was especially happy with the show’s results because “She will be a positive role model for MANY girls/women in America. It’s great that she will be representing the average woman in the international modeling world!”
Others interpreted the win as a kind of patriotic statement. Georgetown Hoya got even loftier, attributing Whitney’s win to a political shift happening in America: “This is the era of change! We can see this in politics as we have Obama and Hillary running. America is finally being mobilized in a positive way, and I'm hoping the same mobility happens in the fashion industry. Stop hating on Whitney!” Hope! While Lacey Cloverdale made me want to wrap myself in the American flag when she declared, “Anya was nowhere NEAR being an American -- unless she just took her citizenship test. No American has that kind of accent. She could barely speak ENGLISH, and this is ‘America's Next Top Model.’ Whitney was the only one left. Good for her.” Hmm. Lacey, sweetheart, have you not noticed how Eastern Europeans, Russians, and Dutchwomen are dominating the pages of Vogue these days? Larger conversation!
But there were worlds more comments that were negative...
Eym was fine with Whitney’s size, but had a serious problem with her style. Whitney’s “just not attractive,” she wrote in. “I don't hate her look because she has curves, I hate her look because she looks like trailer trash to me [Ed: Ouch!], and that's got nothing to do with weight. There are PLENTY of skinny trailer trash girls (Britney anyone?). Whitney's face just screams ‘redneck trailer trash pageant princess Hooters waitress pole dancer’ to me, and seriously, it's not her size.” Impassioned!
Some comments were not only negative but also skeptical of The Tyra (Tyra: if you are reading this, I do not feel this way please do not hurt my family you are perfect the way you are). “Whitney won so Tyra could be proud of herself for picking a plus-size girl,” Sally rationalized. “There was no point in even having a competition. Congratulations, Tyra, for finding a way to make a statement.” “Consolations to the true best all-around model of the season [Anya] who was passed over like a sacrificial lamb,” Lynn agreed.
But the debate took on a slightly bonkers life of its own when it turned to talk of what constitutes a “healthy body.” Medical student Messenger of Truth (now that’s a righteous handle) got readers seriously riled up when she wrote, “In the real world, everywhere else you are going to be judged....but not because you're fat, but because you settled for it. I have been size 12 and know how it is, but now am size 2 and only through eating healthy and exercising I feel great and am not afraid to say it that it was miserable to be heavy.” This statement was quickly rebutted by Danielle, who wrote in, “You're sick if you have convinced yourself that diet and exercise resulted in you getting to a size 2.” Me-ow! (But Danielle, are you saying that all those Weight Watchers ads are, like, full of lies…?)
So what have we learned from this? Perhaps we should let Christopher, a man who admitted to watching the show because of his wife (awww), have the last word: “It is very cool that a young woman that represents a greater portion of American women won…Does it mean that there is pendulum swing towards thick (plus size) women? No. So, congrats to the winner and on to the next season.”
And speaking of the next cycle, do you think that Whitney’s win will affect how Tyra casts the next season of “Top Model”…?