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Old 11th May 2006   #1
HSG
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Default Full-Figured Top Model


Yesterday, viewers of The Tyra Banks Show show were treated to a one-episode, plus-size version of Ms. Banks's America's Next Top Model program, titled "Full-Figured Top Model."

We do not receive The Tyra Banks Show show in our particular corner of the Canadian hinterland, so regrettably, we missed the program. The reviews of the episode that we have received have been mixed (and somewhat contradictory), so unless and until we see it for ourselves, we will refrain from venturing an opinion about it.

However, the show's Web site does offer small images of the models who appeared on the program. And although it is impossible to evaluate a model based on a single tiny photograph, among the contestants whose images appear online, one model does exhibit timeless beauty to a greater degree than any other--and that would be the contestant named Ashley.

Of this aspiring talent, the site mentions that

"Ashley wasn't confident with her looks growing up, so she worked with teens girls to help build their self-esteem."

It also offers a highly significant aesthetic assessment from the show's host:

"Tyra said Ashley had a cute baby doll face."

And so she does--as the image on the site clearly indicates:

And this is not just a "cute baby-doll face," but is, in fact, the look of the timeless feminine ideal. In a recent discussion on this forum, readers posted several articles which reported that scientists had definitively concluded that "a babyish face and big, baby-like eyes with arched eyebrows," a face that is "rounder with gentle features, big eyes, small nose, and big lips" (i.e., the Shannon Marie/Christina Schmidt look), is the most attractive of all feminine facial types. Ashley vividly exhibits these characteristics, along with the fair hair, sky-blue eyes, and peaches-and-cream complexion that have defined timeless beauty throughout Western history, from the Classical descriptions of Helen of Troy, right down to the age of Lillian Russell.

Regrettably, Ashley was not selected as the winner of this contest, but we earnestly hope that she pursues a career in plus-size modelling. Based at least on this one stunning headshot, her beauty and potential are limitless.

- Web site of The Tyra Banks Show

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Old 12th May 2006   #2
Kaitlynn
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Default Re: Full-Figured Top Model

Quote:
Originally Posted by HSG
"Tyra said Ashley had a cute baby doll face."

I couldn't agree with Tyra more. Ashley is beautiful!! It IS hard to be sure from one picture, but her face looks soft and full - "plus perfect"! I wish I'd known about the program before it aired. I hope they repeat it someday.

I found a feature on the show's web site called "Tyra's Journal", which purports to be written by Tyra herself. This is what she had to say about organizing this episode:


"I truly feel when it comes to what men find attractive, biologically they want a woman with some meat on her bones. I think we’ve all been brainwashed by the media to believe skinny is better...I was so excited to do a Full-Figured Top Model special on the talk show! During the competition, it was important to me to show the ladies being super sexy...can look like a fantasy girl and are just plain HOT"


Good words. I'm glad she brought up the point about brainwashing, since she's seen this process first-hand, being part of the mainstream fashion world.

I'm also glad that she did something pro-curvy like this. It's so much more positive in its approach than the program she once did about wearing a prosthetic suit to appear like a large person. Size celebration is the better way!
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Old 31st July 2006   #3
HSG
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Default ''Pillowy soft''


The Tyra Banks Show finally re-broadcast its "Full-Figured Top Model" episode a few days ago, giving us a welcome opportunity to view the program for ourselves. For the benefit of aficionados whose local stations do not carry the Tyra show, we will share a few screen captures from this surprisingly positive episode.

To answer the question that will be uppermost in readers' minds, it turns out that not only is Ashley every bit as lovely as we thought she was (based on her headshot from the show's Web site), but that she is even more gorgeous than we supposed.

Indeed, Ashley is as perfect an embodiment of the timeless ideal of beauty as any plus-size model, past or present.

And speaking of past plus-size models, with her "cute baby-doll face," and big blue-green eyes, Ashley bears an uncanny resemblance to the first true plus-size supermodel, Sophie Dahl. Could there be a more perfect notion of the "ideal plus-size model" than a (*gasp*) "fuller-figured Sophie Dahl"?

And because Ashley resembles Miss Dahl in her more gorgeous days of yore, she also favours a legendary siren whom Sophie herself resembled, in her pre-starvation period: the incomparable Lillian Russell. The resemblance between the two goddesses is simply uncanny.

Actually, Tyra Banks's first plus-size model search merits praise for numerous reasons. The models were, for the most part, genuinely full-figured (rather than the faux-plus types that have appeared on America's Next Top Model). The tone was upbeat. And the styling--a crucial factor--was astonishingly becoming. Ashley's outfit, for example, framed her shapely figure in a truly marvellous way.

The camisole emphasized the opulent allure of her arms and decolletage, while remaining comfortable around an alluringly curvaceous waist. The rich accessories--from the elaborate necklace, to the thick hoop earrings, to the ornate bracelet--had an antique quality about them, playing up Ashley's status as a beauty from a more romantic era.

Fortunately, because she was positioned at the right of the row of candidates--nearest to Tyra herself--Ashley appeared in nearly every shot featuring the host, thus giving her an abundance of screen time.

And Ashley's lively reactions to the program's various incidents focussed every viewer's attention squarely on her, even in the group shots.

The first of the episode's various photo sessions involved the models shooting topless. Tyra's rationale for including this daring segment was noteworthy:

There's a reason why I wanted to do this photo shoot. A lot of people might say, "What are you doing, having them there with their tops off?" But I feel like the woman's body is so, so beautiful. And when you think of a woman who is more fuller-figured, it's always, like, "Oh, cover her up, cover her up." I wanted to show your curves, and rock that, and show that that is absolutely gorgeous and sexy. And that's why we did this shoot.

We applaud the sentiment. True, the images might have turned out better if the models had adopted standing poses (a la Classical statues), instead of the awkward lying-down arrangement, but why quibble?

Interestingly, since Ashley was given hair extensions for the shoot, this session also revealed how this model could improve on her already-breathtaking beauty: by growing out her hair. The longer tresses looked absolutely stunning on her.

The next segment, involving a pin-up theme, showing the models in lingerie, posing alongside a cherry-red Cadillac. Even during the hair/make-up session for the shoot, Ashley looked ravishing (and particularly Sophie-like):

Ashley really came into her own during this session, generating precisely the kind of wide-eyed, ebullient expressions that were characteristic of the best pin-up photography.

Tyra again provided an appealing rationale for the shoot, stating: "I wanted to do this challenge because it captures an era when voluptuous icons like Marilyn Monroe were the epitome of sexy." And upon seeing Ashley's photos from this shoot, Tyra enthused that, "She looks so pillowy soft!" (Marvellous phrase.)

Interestingly, the contestant who was dropped in this round was eliminated because the judges found her too thin, at a size 12/14. As one judge rightly stated, "I'm just not convinced that you are a plus-size girl."

How tragic that in today's plus-size industry, 12/14 is a commonly-accepted size (that, and even smaller sizes--to the endless frustration of the public). In preferring larger models, such as Ashley, Tyra's "Full-Figured Top Model" episode identified the higher size standards that the industry should be adopting, to better appeal to the public.

But back to Ashley. In an adorable moment just after the photos from this "retro" segment were shown, Ashley was caught gasping in awe at her own appearance (and who can blame her?), thus increasing her charm tenfold. Nothing is as irresistible as a goddess who is enraptured by her own allure.

The next modelling trial had the models promoting a number of commercial products--products that (unbeknownst to them) were deliberately defective.

For her part, Ashley was required to promote a type of body lotion (which was actually marshmallow topping). This coy, enticing look in the model's eyes could sell anything to anyone. Who could possibly resist her?

Although we have complimented the styling in this program (and with good reason, considering how beautifully it shows off Ashley's curvaceous arms),

we should also commend the set designer. Having these plus-size goddesses standing behind Ionic columns (albeit plastic replicas) for this segment was a brilliant touch, and another welcome Classical detail.

Not surprisingly, the judges again favoured Ashley over every other contestant. As one judge noted, despite the fact that the product was rigged to perform poorly, "She didn't even react. I love that, because that's what you're supposed to do. It's all about the product, not about you."

Nevertheless, the segment left Ashley with a gooey mess of marshmallow topping on her arm,

which prompted Tyra to create a moment of genuine hilarity, as she assisted in the removal of the topping. (Not for nothing might one refer to the gorgeous Ashley as looking "luscious" and "delectable.")

The final segment tested the models' fluidity of movement, and involved several moments' worth of dancing in front of a camera. The specific dance steps that were assigned to the models were ghastly (a waltz would have been much more fitting), but once again, Ashley completely stole the show.

The material of Ashley's dress was unpleasantly sitff, but regardless of the fabric, she demonstrated that halter dresses are tailor-made for plus-size figures.

One of the judges breathlessly stated, "Ashley you were so hot. So sexy, So awesome. I really think you were the best." True enough; but why should it surprise anyone that a model who possesses every other traditional attribute of Venus (fair features, a round face, and a generous figure), should also be proficient in the one activity--dancing--of which the Greek goddess of beauty was particularly fond?

Despite its title, Tyra's "Full-Figured Top Model" episode exhibited little in the way of practical modelling. It did, however, demonstrate that Ashley is both dynamic and graceful in front of the camera. More importantly, it showed that Ashley is the physical embodiment of what plus-size models should look like--gorgeous, youthful, and genuinely full-figured. She is a true timeless beauty, with the kind of soft features and womanly shape that were celebrated as the ideal of femininity in every century prior to the twentieth. Every agency should be lining up to represent her; every client should be begging to book her. Her, or models who resemble her.

We congratulate the Tyra Banks Show for getting it right, by featuring Ashley on this program. Hopefully, her appearance will remind the plus-size industry (and the mass media) of the type of beauty that it has unjustly suppressed for so long, and even help bring that beauty back into cultural prominence.


Last edited by HSG : 31st July 2006 at 07:55.
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Old 1st August 2006   #4
Emily
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Default Re: ''Pillowy soft''

Quote:
Originally Posted by HSG
upon seeing Ashley's photos from this shoot, Tyra enthused that, "She looks so pillowy soft!"

I find Tyra's admiration of Ashley's beauty really encouraging. Tyra's choice of words indicates that she really understands that plus-size modelling has (or should have) a completely separate and distinct aesthetic, entirely different from that of straight-size modelling. "Pillowy softness" is exactly the look that plus-size modelling should be striving for, and the fact that this model exhibits such traits makes her an ideal candidate for this branch of modelling.

The idea of putting a single plus-size contestant in with a batch of underweight models on America's Next Top Model never made any sense. The skinny girls would come up short if all of the models were judged by curvy standards, and vice versa. But this episode's approach -- having a completely separate competition for full-figured models -- makes so much more sense, and was obviously far more successful. Ashley is infinitely closer to an ideal plus-size model (and a timeless beauty) than any of ANTM's faux-plus contestants. I hope she goes far.
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Old 3rd August 2006   #5
M. Lopez
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Default Re: ''Pillowy soft''

Quote:
Originally Posted by HSG
the contestant who was dropped in this round was eliminated because the judges found her too thin, at a size 12/14. As one judge rightly stated, "I'm just not convinced that you are a plus-size girl."...

Ashley is the physical embodiment of what plus-size models should look like--gorgeous, youthful, and genuinely full-figured. She is a true timeless beauty, with the kind of soft features and womanly shape that were celebrated as the ideal of femininity in every century prior to the twentieth. Every agency should be lining up to represent her; every client should be begging to book her. Her, or models who resemble her.

I agree 100%. The problem that I have with many plus-size campaigns - even some of those that are featured on this site - are that the models simply don't look plus enough. The reaction of the judges in dismissing one model because she was too thin gives voice to the frustrations that many, many women have with the plus-size industry.

I cannot conceive of a more perfect plus-size model than Ashley. She is SO gorgeous, and does look visibly plus - beautifully so. She is both an aspirational ideal, and a natural beauty. Whenever people complain about plus-size models, it's someone like Ashley whom they have in mind as the kind of image that the industry should be presenting.

I have not given up hope that someday, some retailers will awaken to this fact.
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Old 9th October 2006   #6
Armalle
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Default Re: Full-Figured Top Model

I concur with what the others stated. I did see the Tyra Show and Ashley was absolutely beautiful as well as confident and comfortable in her skin. Her smile radiated a joy that a dress size could not dictate. She quoted scripture as she was greeted by Tyra in the opening, stating that we are all "wonderfully and beautifully made," a reference that God makes no mistakes and plus-size women are as beautiful as their thinner sisters.
Ashley is a tribute to young women, and hopefully the youth she leads will follow her cue and love themselves for who they are, not what they are told they should be.
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Old 13th October 2006   #7
Aimee
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Default Re: Full-Figured Top Model

Tyra is working on another episode of Full Figured Top Model, I believe to be airing in November. I know of a few girls who were contacted. We shall see...
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