Plus-size season of ANTM?
Here's some (possibly) exciting news. An all-plus-size-model season of America's Next Top Model appears to be in the works.
The following news item indicates that planning for such a season has already gone so far as seeking special guest judges, including Christina Hendricks, who plays thin-but-curvaceous secretary Joan Holloway on Mad Men.
Here's the info:
Such a season could be a good thing. The only potential downside is that ANTM has historically only featured faux-plus models. Even Whitney, while gorgeous, was a size 12 at best.
IF (and this is a big "if), however, the season were to include true plus-size models -- size 16, 18, for example -- then it could be utterly amazing.
And for heaven's sake, no models under a size 12.
ANTM has already had an all-petite-model season, although the opportunities for petite models in the industry are extremely limited. Plus-size modelling, on the other hand, is an entire recognized segment of fashion with established modelling boards. It is high time for America's Next Top Plus-Size Model.
(So long as the models will be truly plus-size.)
Re: Plus-size season of ANTM?
This news is quite encouraging. We love the possibility of America's Next top Model becoming a waif-free environment, at least for one season.
But the show also has the potential to do more harm than good, if it isn't executed correctly.
Shelley perceptively identifies the likeliest stumbling block. If this so-called "plus-size season" were merely to restrict itself to faux-plus models, then it would be an appalling spectacle with skinny girls being mislabeled full-figured.
Naturally, the ideal situation would be for all of the girls to be larger than size 14, so that no matter which girl won, viewers would be guaranteed a legitimately full-figured Top Plus-Size Model.
Even if the sizes were mixed, an all-plus season would increase the chances that at least a few of the girls would be genuinely full-figured (size 16 or better). However, such a size mixture would create potential pitfalls. If the faux-plus girls were favoured over the true plus-size models, or if the more androgynously "toned" models were prefererd over softer girls with more natural physiques, this would send a terribly mixed message to the show's young female viewership.
Thus, an equally important factor in the potential success of this season would be choosing judges with an authentically pro-plus aesthetic. Some individuals associated with the plus-size fashion industry are legitimately pro-curvy. Others, however, are not--and sadly, many of the people who restrict full-figured modelling to faux-plus standards are the industry's power brokers.
In short, the season would need two things to be successful: (a) true plus-size models as contestants, and (b) judges who are pro-plus and would evaluate full-figured beauty on its own terms, and would not assess candidates on how closely they approach straight-size standards.
Thus, the season would require a substantial change in its evaluative paradigm from the usual ANTM criteria. Judges would need to prefer round facial features over oval faces, facial fullness over gaunt visages, soft figures over toned bodies, beautiful looks over "edgy" appearances, and timeless femininity over modern androgyny.
Within those parameters, a plus-size season of America's Next Top Model could be authentically subversive, and would make for thoroughly enjoyable viewing. It would eliminate comparisons between anorexic girls and plus-size models. It would present an idealized vision of the actual populace (which is what fashion should be doing), not an alien, unnatural standard. Its contestants would reflect the body shape of the majority of American girls, merely possessing exceptionally photogenic facial features and proven modelling ability.
Let us illustrate what a good critique from a pro-curvy judge on such a season would be (the kind of judge that the show should accept), versus a bad critique from an inappropriate judge who would impose straight-size standards on the girls (the kind of judge that the show should reject). We will use "Lillian" as the name of a hypothetical contestant:
If the series were to be governed by the aesthetic of the Good Judge, the it would be glorious. If it were to be governed by the aesthetic of the Bad Judge, then it would be an obscenity and, as suggested above, would do more harm than good.
Let us hope that such a season is indeed in the works, and if it is, that it will be guided by a pro-plus aesthetic.
The flawless perfection of Shannon Marie--the most gorgeous plus-size model of all time, and the ideal standard by which any "Top Plus-Size Model" contestant would rightly be judged:
(From Mode magazine.)
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