Here is where America's Next Top Model has gone wrong-- and yes, it has gone wrong:
America's Next Top Model has gradually mutated into America's Next CoverGirl, to the degree that Tyra's main reason for demanding the closure of Danielle's tooth gap was: you never see a CoverGirl ad with a model giving a big, gappy-toothed smile. Ever since CoverGirl became the cosmetics sponsor of the show (and because contractually, the company must feature the winner in a magazine campaign), the CoverGirl aesthetic-- not "easy, breezy beautiful," but, let's face it, "bubbleheaded, giddy, and cutesy"-- has begun to dominate the course of the competition. I had my suspicions about CoverGirl's interference last season with Nicole's win, and somehow, I think that first-season favorite Adrienne wouldn't have had a chance if she needed to go ga-ga over some cupcake-flavored lip gloss for the title.
I loved Danielle's gap and would have been extremely pissed off had the dentist fully closed it (thankfully, he left a tiny sliver of its glory), but I wonder if, after listening to Tyra's spiel, Danielle stopped to think to herself, "But wait-- who gives a fuck about CoverGirl?" To tailor one's teeth, and, more importantly, one's adorably individual "signature" look, to fit the image of one of America's most commercial and least innovative make-up companies is dangerous career move. When did becoming a "top model" start to mean mean looking right for selling drugstore products instead of looking like human art? Plus, when was the last time you saw models in high fashion ads (or on the runway) smiling? Have you seen how dour those Prada girls are? Just because Danielle's smile didn't meet CoverGirl's generic standard of beauty (yes, I'm calling Queen Latifah's beauty generic), this doesn't meet that smile wouldn't be a quirky asset, even inspiration-- I can see Marc Jacobs eating that shit up! -- to designers and cosmetic companies looking for a definitive face.
(By the way, I was in favor of Joanie's snaggle tooth as well, although it definitely seemed like Joanie didn't "identify" with it. Whereas Danielle had grown to love her gap and regard it as an extension of her personality.)
Let's not forget real "top models" have nothing to do with this bullshitty squeaky clean CoverGirling, and their employers (as well as the public) have no problem with this. I would even go so far as to argue that we prefer our top models a little bit unruly, so we can actually take them seriously when they show up in Versace ads wearing gold net bikinis and standing atop naked and greased man servants. Most recently, Naomi Campell's maiming assistants because they can't find her favorite jeans fast enough, Kate Moss is doing rails like they're going out of style, May Anderson's attacking flight attendants, Carolyn Murphy's sex tape is starting to make the rounds, and the list doesn't stop there. Tyra would argue that supermodels can flaunt wild personas because they've "made it," but I would argue for a pre-existing fieriness, which provides the intangible "inner flame" so passionately sought by Mr. Jay during photo shoots. I would have held higher hopes for Danielle's authentic top modeldom had she looked Tyra square in the eye, said, "Trust me. The gap is key," then struck out on her own. Now if she wins, we'll see her in a lone People ad flaunting "Continuous Color" nail polish in Fabulous Fuschia, and then she'll have the rough edges buffed off of her until she's giving painful, automaton-like performances during the weekly "My Life As A CoverGirl" segments. And then, after that, she'll be mentioned in Page Six once a year when Russell Simmons happens to flirt with her at a party (Naima, anyone?), and in two years she'll be like, "Ohhhhhh yeah. Nursing school."
While we're on the topic of Top Model, I need to address something really quick:
"dear tyra banks my name is keithea and i am 12 years old an i am just wondering if you could do an kids america next top model ages 11,12,13.Because it,s not fair for older women to get to follow there dreams .SO if you say yes it will be an dream come true so please please please say tes love keithea martin your biggest fan.
Posted by: keithea | April 04, 2006 at 04:42 PM"
"I Just wanted to show appreciation to my husband on your show. He is the most wonderful person in the whole wide world to me. He makes me smile when I am oh so feeling down it likes he takes me up to the heavely skies above. It's like when he walks in the room he is just gliding upon the air his feet are not even touching the ground below. I want to take him somewhere special for a whole weekend during the summertime for his birthday. Just the two of us gazing into each others eyes while laying or sitting upon the night shinig oh so brightly. Tyra if you would help me show appreciation to my husband. I show him but I don't feel that I show him enough sometime. He is my world and I don't know what I would do if I ever lost him apaprt of my soul would just vanish and die. Thank you so much.
MRS. Shelley Wilson
Posted by: Shelley Lynette Wilson | April 12, 2006 at 08:07 AM"
Ladies, for the last time, I am NOT Tyra Banks. Judging by comments received over the past two years, I know a lot of you think that maybe I secretly am, but I swear, this is not the case. Look at the picture in the upper right corner. Maybe you're confused because on Tyra's daytime show, she keeps having her make-up artists disguise her as fat girls and strippers, and so perhaps you think that this is just another one of her ruses-- that this week, she's masquerading as a Jewish white girl-- but I cross my heart, hope to die, than I am not Ms. Banks and have never been. Do me a favor and accept this.