Caralyn & Whitney: ''Fiercely Real'' pt. 2
Alas, as noted in a previous thread, lovely Caralyn Mirand did not end up winning Tyra Banks's "Fiercely Real" model search, even though she indisputably deserved the honour. But she was the first runner up, and by far the fan favourite, and we have our fingers crossed that we will be seeing more of her in the future.
Part two of Tyra's "Fiercely Real" broadcast opened with a recap of the previous episode, with Caralyn performing her note-perfect runway walk.
But before continuing with the contest, the show provided some valuable context as to the importance of an event such as this. Tyra introduced a group of teenage girls who have been bullied at school, or faced other forms of discrimination, simply for having naturally curvy figures instead of starving themselves into skeletal forms.
Indeed, a number of these girls would have made better candidates for the "Fiercely Real" competition than some of the actual finalists. This lady in blue, for example, had a pleasingly rounded figure,
while the girl in pink had a very photogenic face. A competition between her and Caralyn for the title of "Fiercely Real" winner would have been a close one.
At any rate, Tyra then called in the episode's special guest, Whitney Thompson, whose walk (the finest of any ANTM winner) proved to be as fluid and feminine as ever.
Whitney looked quite chic in her royal blue dress--a classy but lively wardrobe choice that gave her a certain professional bearing, without sacrificing her femininity.
After the first commercial break, the contest once again got under way. Tyra reintroduced the judging panel,
as well as the five remaining competitors. Notice how Caralyn once again stood out from the rest, due not only to her superior beauty, but also to her berry-coloured top. Fans of Miss Mirand will recall that she similarly wore a sleeveless top in a vibrant colour for the first part of the Fiercely Real competition. These coral/purple hues complement her skin tone, and immediately distinguish her from her rivals.
All of the girls wore their hair tied back in ponytails for this episode, which further drew distinctions between them, throwing their facial features into sharp relief. Of the five, only Caralyn possessed sufficient beauty to still look gorgeous, even with pulled-back hair.
As she was introduced, she indulged in the first of many memorable gestures throughout the show, blowing a kiss to the audience like a born starlet before her adoring public.
She positively beamed at the audience, sensing their appreciation, feeding off their admiration of her beauty.
The second photoshoot of the contest turned out to be the best of the "Fiercely Real" challenges. It was introduced by Whitney, who looked every bit the American Beauty in her cowboy hat.
We are generally not fond of cowboy hats as accessories, but it must be conceded that Whitney made this chapeau look better than most.
During her cycle of ANTM, an Italian designer commented that Whitney looked "very American," and this quality worked in her favour in selling this particular look.
Caralyn, for her part, looked extraordinarily glamorous as she listened to the details of the challenge. She appeared remarkably mature and sophisticated, with a silver-screen richness to her countenance.
Her enthusiastic reaction to the particulars of the shoot, though, was more characteristically youthful and charming.
Whitney explained that the challenge would involve the girls presenting denim-themed Torrid ensembles that they would assemble themselves, guided by Miss Thompson's own style tips.
Caralyn already looked beautiful, though, even in the robe that she wore while selecting her outfit. This is significant, for in their commercial work, plus-size models are often required to model basic shirts of just this kind. Loose as it was, Caralyn made it look appealing, her figure giving the garment a semblance of shape.
Next, a session in the makeup chair proved, among other things, that Whitney has indeed retained her brunette tresses, and simply donned a wig for her "Fiercely Real" episodes, presumably to recall her ANTM look.
These behind-the-scenes glimpses yielded some of the most stunning images of Miss Mirand in the entire episode, showcasing the roundness of her features, the attractive fullness in her face. At first, she seemed introspective, even a tad wistful.
But then, one look at her reflection in the mirror was enough to put her in a more jubilant frame of mind. And who can blame her for deriving such obvious pleasure from contemplating her own lovely visage?
One thinks of the fetching coquette Dolly Varden, in a passage from Dickens's novel Barnaby Rudge (1841):
When Emma told her that she had been very unhappy, Dolly felt more sorry than she could tell; but next moment she happened to raise them to the mirror, and really there was something there so exceedingly agreeable, that as she sighed, she smiled, and felt surprisingly consoled.
Like Dolly, Caralyn delights in viewing her own beauty, and who can fail to adore her for this?
With the makeup done, Whitney collected the girls and brought in photographer Nigel Barker.
Meanwhile, the screen flashed an image of Miss Thompson, shot by Barker, in an example of the kind of "demonstration" photo that one often finds on America's Next Top Model, where images of Tyra provide baseline examples of what a successful photograph from the shoot du jour might look like.
As the session began, fans were treated to another taste of the more vixenish side of Caralyn's personality, as she criticized a rival's performance, saying:
Nigel was basically posing for her. He was moving her arms, moving her body, moving her hair. She just was kind of standing there, like a mannequin.
Little touches of wickedness like this play up Caralyn's princess identity, making her all the most captivating.
But Miss Mirand proved that she definitely had the right to judge the other girls' efforts, because her own work outshone theirs so dramatically.
Just look at the sophistication and sureness that she demonstrated in her expressions--first, the undisguised "You know you dream about me" vanity of this mischievous look.
Then this slightly friendlier, more approachable glance. Be sure to view the excerpts video, linked below, to see how fluidly Caralyn transitioned between these emotional states. One would never consider her a novice model, but a seasoned professional with years of experience.
The trace of smugness in this look is utterly thrilling--and notice how the expression played up her rounded cheekbones (a feature that Tyra herself praised in the previous episode).
In this profile shot, with her slightly arched eyebrow, she adopted an aristocratic bearing. The apple-cheeked fullness of her facial features represents the hallmark of timeless beauty. Also, observe the stunning length of her thick, heavy, half-uncurled tresses, which add to the opulence of her look.
But the image that should have ended the contest then and there, resulting in an instant win for Caralyn, was this one. Such a sensual pose, so full of emotion, with a languorous hands-to-the-hair gesture and melting gaze--how did she manage it?
Again, be sure to view the excerpts video to see how gracefully she shifted from the above pose to this equally dramatic position. Her technique is remarkable.
On that high note, Caralyn must have felt even more confidence than usual as she approached the panel for her photo critique. In the video, watch the little shoulder-shimmy that she did as she stood before them.
The image that the program chose as her representative photograph could not possibly have been the very best from the shoot (as the above screencaps illustrate), but it was still far superior to those of any of the other contestants.
Whitney opened the commentary by praising Miss Mirand's body-confident pose (and she looked stunning doing so),
but voiced a concern about Caralyn's haughty expression.
In this, we must disagree with Miss Thompson (whose own best images are those in which she demonstrates a similar touch of vanity). Caralyn's self-satisfaction is precisely what endears her to her fans, and makes her work exciting. Her vanity is her very best quality.
Seventeen editor Ann Shoket was effusive in her praise of the image, saying,
I love the attitude in your face. This is sophisticated and grown-up. You look confident, and like you own it. You look like a girl that we all want to know, and be, and be friends with.
Tyra too added to the kudos that the picture received. It was a bona fide hit with the panel, as it was with the audience, who cheered when it was displayed.
Naturally, Caralyn was delighted with the positive feedback (and with the judges' good taste). Her loveliness at panel further justified the praise, showcasing the "soft and beautiful" facial qualities that the Wilhelmina agent complimented in the previous episode.
As she returned to her spot, the camera caught a glimpse of the model in profile--a shot that otherwise proved elusive, even over two full episodes of the show.
The next photoshoot began with another hair/makeup session, the images of which proved to be every bit as memorable as the pictures showing Caralyn in costume. Again, observe the soft roundness of the model's facial features, and the calm pleasure with which she gazed upon her own loveliness.
With real delight, Caralyn outlined the nature of the challenge--to embody a modern female pop star. Even those who may have been unaware of the identity of the singer whom Caralyn was about to emulate must have found her enthusiasm infectious.
The following is one of our favourite images of the entire "Fiercely Real" experience. Caralyn's heavily-lidded gaze communicated thrilling vanity and self-assurance. "Who do those other girls think they are," she seemed to ask, "to compete with me? Just look at me." And she would have been right to feel that way.
But with a turn of her head, and a glance upwards, she switched into her adorable, big-eyed, doll look. For a model to be able to evoke one demeanour or the other--aristocratic beauty or wide-eyed innocent--is admirable enough. To be able to do both so well, that is the mark of a rare talent.
Indeed, it seemed at times as if the camera couldn't get close enough to Caralyn, here catching a shot of her dramatic eyes as she listened to the specifics of the challenge.
As the photo session began, Miss Mirand again revealed her kittenish side, dismissing another model's performance as "mediocre." Let no one doubt it--Caralyn's fans love her feisty, ultra-confident nature.
And as the photoshoot continued, it seemed as if that confidence would earn her even more acclaim as the undisputed top talent of the competition.
In her ever-so-cute Girl Scout uniform, she posed with the kind of high-temperature attitude that is apparently characteristic of the singer whom she was assigned to emulate.
But then, unaccountably, cracks appeared in the model's self-assurance.
Caralyn's posing displayed no evidence of any self-doubt, but her own words, relayed in an emotional voice-over, and subtitled by the show itself, expressed her unaccountable concerns:
If there was ever an indication of the need for Tyra's "Fiercely Real" efforts, and a testament to the frightening power of distorted body image, this is it. That someone as thin as Caralyn, barely plus-size even by fashion industry standards, and below the average size of American women, could think that she has full thighs, when her legs are quite slim (as this screen cap shows), is incomprehensible.
Indeed, when Caralyn's photograph from this shoot came up for critique at panel, Whitney--unfailingly size-celebratory, as always--put an end to such thinking at a stroke. Speaking in the voice of a big sister, she pointed out:
You don't have "thunder thighs," honey. Please. I have thunder thighs. And I love my thunder thighs. Okay? I rock miniskirts. So get over that.
Of course, Whitney does not have full thighs either, but it seemed to be what Caralyn needed to hear.
One senses that she took Miss Thompson's words to heart.
Indeed, despite the model's protestations, her actual image turned out to be excellent--our personal favourite (if only because of the wardrobe). Caralyn posed with sass, and had a touch of mischief in her eyes, making her a somewhat naughty Girl Scout. She brought to mind Kelsey Olson's brilliant efforts in her costume campaigns.
Surprisingly--and prejudiced no doubt by model's own self-deprecating comments--the judges thought that the above image lacked fire. Perhaps the criticisms were worth it, though, for the shots of Miss Mirand listening to these critiques showed her with a rather serious look on her face--an expression that was very becoming for her, and one that she should consider incorporating into her modelling oeuvre, as it showcased the round beauty of her countenance.
As you watch the excerpts video, be on the lookout for another signature Caralyn gesture as she motions with her hands after receiving the critiques, indicating that she has now brushed away her former concerns about her figure.
Indeed, as the camera panned along the row of girls as they awaited the next elimination, Caralyn seemed in better spirits--and with reason, as she made it past this cut, and into the final three.
The penultimate challenge involved, not a photo shoot, but a runway walk. The twist was that the walk had to be distinctive and unique. As indicated in the second screencap in this thread, Caralyn had already demonstrated the proficiency of her runway technique in her initial emergence onto the Tyra set. However, following the requirements of the latest challenge, she now adopted a walk that defied description, for it was an attempt to translate ANTM's "broken-down marionette" posing technique to the runway.
Fortunately, the other contestants had similarly odd walks. In discussing a different girl's gait, Whitney mentioned that she appeared to be invoking Tyra's "posing with pain" approach from ANTM, Cycle 10.
All of this strangeness can best be understood from watching the excerpts video at the foot of this post.
As the girls awaited the results, fans saw that even at a size 12/14, Caralyn had the shapeliest arms of the group, effectively showcased by her sleeveless dress in an attractive shade of purple--the colour of royalty. Naturally, she survived the elimination, and made it to the final two.
The last challenge was quite unique. The contestants were given camcorders to record size-positive videos on the theme of Tyra's B.I.O. ("Beauty Inside and Out") campaign.
Caralyn's video was utterly brilliant. It showed her taking off her earrings, letting down her hair, and wiping off her makeup.
Her commentary included the following statement:
In this world that we live in, we often feel that bronzer and botox are the answer to our problems. The perception of beauty is getting narrower and narrower. Until there is a change, I will no longer take part in this definition of beauty. I choose to define myself differently.
However, in addition to communicating this commendable message, there were other reasons why Caralyn's video was a stroke of genius. For one thing, it demonstrated her promotional skills.
For another, it was a bit of a provocative tease, as it recalled the famous Charlize Theron J'adore commercial showing the model removing her jewellery, wardrobe, etc., in a Paris apartment.
And finally, whether the model herself planned this or not, the video demonstrated that Caralyn is just as beautiful without a bit of makeup as she is dolled up. It was thus the film equivalent of a great Polaroid.
In fact, when the final title card was superimposed over the video at its conclusion, it almost seemed like a subliminal advertisement to clients, advising them, "You will embrace Caralyn's natural beauty."
And that is a piece of advice that they would do well to take.
The challenges over, the judges and the audience were left to select the winner. Miss Mirand's pictures were grouped together, and were shown to be unquestionably stronger than those of the other contestant.
The young ladies from the beginning of the program were asked their opinion, and the curviest girl defied the judges by saying that Caralyn was her first choice.
The model looked especially fresh and angelic in those last few nervous moments before the winner was announced.
Alas, the agent sided with the other girl. Miss Mirand was very gracious to her fellow contestant, embracing her when the announcement was made.
The final images showed Caralyn in profile, and indicated that she possesses what Renaissance writers deemed the most attractive of facial features: the "slight rise" of a "slope toward the throat."
Moreover, the images highlighted the soft shapeliness of her arms. Tyra encouraged her to pursue a modelling career, and we earnestly hope that she will.
All in all, Tyra's "Fiercely Real" contest was a brilliant idea, and long overdue, in that in coupled "plus-size" with "youth"--ideas that are often falsely disassociated, with curvaceousness being libelled as emblematic of age, and emaciation being falsely tied to girlhood.
However, this competition proved to be a disappointment by merely selecting finalists size 12 and 14, when it was nominally open to girls up to a 20. Unless the agency was willing to accept girls size 16 and larger, this was a case of false advertising. What made the situation especially galling was the fact that the industry needs more girls size 16 and better, especially at younger ages. This was an opportunity for Tyra to push plus-size modelling in the direction that it needs to go--away from the faux-plus deception, and toward embracing genuinely full-figured starlets.
Re: Caralyn & Whitney: ''Fiercely Real'' pt. 2
I strongly agree with this. I wish the contest had featured at least a few girls who were more curvaceous. But I am very glad that it put the idea of the "junior plus-size model" in people's minds. Fashion always uses the excuse that it employs skeletal models because they're young. Well, you can be young and curvy. The next time some designer tries to excuse a parade of androgyny by saying, "I want to use younger girls in my show," the response should be, "Okay, but there are plenty of models that age who are plus-size and have real figures, and don't look like they're starving to death."
The Tyra site has posted Caralyn's photos from the show, in good quality.
She's so pretty.
And here's a group shot. You can tell Caralyn right away, by the hand gesture. (grin) I hope we get to see more of her in the future. She was born to be a star.
Re: Caralyn & Whitney: ''Fiercely Real'' pt. 2
I found Caralyn's video to be absolutely riveting The first time I watched it, my jaw dropped. As she began removing her accessories and taking down her hair, I thought, "Is she undressing?" Tyra is right - it absolutely seizes your attention. Then I watched it again, and really paid attention to her words. It's a powerful statement, especially coming from someone so young. I particularly marked her critique that "the perception of beauty is getting narrower and narrower" - which, of course, has a double meaning (i.e., that beauty is becoming more one-note, but also that models are becoming ever more emaciated and corpse-like).
To hear such an eloquent assertion from a girl who is so extraordinarily beautiful is amazing. Here are some of my own favourite pictures of Caralyn:
I love how soft her face looks here:
"I'm better than you," she's thinking. (I adore her attitude!)
and of course, the masterpiece:
Ooooh. So sensual.
Re: Caralyn & Whitney: ''Fiercely Real'' pt. 2
I agree with both points. The idea that Caralyn could have even a moment's doubt about her perfectly normal proportions is astonishing. If there is any criticism that could be made of her (there isn't; but if there were), it could only be that she would be an even greater crusader at a slightly fuller size. No girl her age should be in any way troubled about her curves, and the fact that so many teens are makes an injection of fierce appreciation for curviness very much needed.
As for Caralyn's performance in the Fergie shoot, it was excellent. The judges seemed to have paid more attention to Caralyn's very frank and emotional aside than to her technique, which was top notch. Although she confessed to some self-consciousness, there was no evidence of this in her pictures or in the video of her posing technique, since she was just as professional in this case as she was in her denim shoot. As the excerpts video displays, she posed with sass and confidence. Her facial expressions conveyed the sense that she was a bit of a saucy minx, which is exactly what the picture required.
I can't imagine what else the judges wanted from her. I mean, she's 17 years old. Did they want something raunchy? I'm glad that she didn't go that route. As Caralyn's pictures show, she has a knack for creating pictures that convey great sensuality, but are still tasteful and chic.
Re: Caralyn & Whitney: ''Fiercely Real'' pt. 2
I think Caralyn is just lovely. Just lovely. I really am saddened to see young girls with this figure type feeling down on themselves. It's perfect, it's feminine, it's everything normal and healthy. What a gorgeous young lady. We are so in need of a major overhaul.
Re: Caralyn & Whitney: ''Fiercely Real'' pt. 2
Caralyn fans (and I am one of them) will enjoy seeing this graphic, which I just discovered on the Tyra site. It apparently shows a collage of the four pictures that Caralyn sent in for the "Fiercely Real" contest. No wonder she was selected as one of the finalists! These are absolutely stunning polaroids.
I especially like the way her face looks in the "Forward" headshot, where you can see the attractive roundness of her features. But the pic that really takes the cake is the "Profile" photo. WOW. She is doing that "You know you want me" hands-in-the-hair pose, which is so sensual. A born model.
I would love to see Caralyn become a bit fuller and achieve a great career as a plussize model.
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