In this past week's episode of America's Next Top Model,
Whitney Thompson broke a show record by becoming the first-ever plus-size model ever to receive the top honour in panel.
In other words, the judges considered her photograph to be the best of all of the models' pictures.
Actually, Whitney has deserved to be called out first every
week so far, as her work has consistently outshone that of any other contestant on the program. But at least the panel finally acknowledged her superiority. (Just look at that expression--she knows
she deserves the praise.)
The victory was a tad bittersweet, however, as the episode saw the elimination of the only other attractive model on the show--a sweet, fair-skinned girl named Aimee, who had the best complexion of any of the contestants (her fair features being worthy of Kelsey Olson or Kailee O'Sullivan). Notice her enchanting Old World hairstyle. With a fuller figure like Whitney's, or larger, she would be an extraordinary beauty.
Aimee was also personally closest to Whitney among the contestants, and if you look through each episode's screencaps, you will often find her standing alongside Miss Thompson. Aimee was also the model whom Whitney defended against the attacks of the other girls. But at least our plus-size goddess won the episode's top honours, and proceeded to the next round.* * *
Ironically, although Whitney was the week's top model, she actually received less screen time than in previous programs. The episode began right where the last one ended off--showing the girls being driven home in the show's limousine, after panel.
Whitney seemed a tad downcast (owing no doubt to her near-elimination), but this wasn't a bad thing, as she always looks particularly attractive when she adopts serious expressions.
But her sombre mood was quickly dispelled during an argument with the show's resident rabble-rouser, who made some characteristically idiotic statements. The camera caught Whitney enjoying the hilarity. (Note her soft facial features.)
The skirmish also yielded several glimpses of Whitney wearing a chic black top
with a daring open back.
Observe how the top embraces her figure--which appears most curvaceous when the model stands in a relaxed manner.
Notice the model's curvaceous waist.
Again, observe how attractive Whitney's facial features become when she adopts serious expressions. The roundness of her face is what makes it so lovely. Notice also her seductively heavily-lidded eyes.
The following candid shows us the beauty of the model's profile.
And note how her simple hairstyle--tied back in a ponytail--still takes advantage of the volume that longer tresses provide.
A later headshot of Whitney shows her in a reflective mood. These expressions are remarkably different from her modelling oeuvre, but every bit as compelling.
One final "serious" picture of Whitney appeared as the girls were being driven to their next challenge. Examine her flawless profile.
But frowns turned to smiles as the girls discovered that in their next challenge, they would be interacting with Tyra Banks herself.
Said challenge involved a catwalk/posing practice. Before we get to the particulars, however, enjoy this glimpse of Whitney playing with her hair in an alluring manner (with Aimee by her side, looking like the first handmaiden to the princess of the realm).
Whitney's diva expression quickly melted into a warm smile, upon Tyra's arrival.
To the delight of Whitney's fans, ANTM
now makes a point of showing off her curvy figure in every episode, and in this program, it did so by dressing her in a skin-tight red bodysuit. Notice how the garment defined her most seductive feature, the soft swell of her rounded abdomen.
The girls began by practised their runway walks. Observe how much fuller and more womanly Whitney's figure is than Aimee's.
Here are several more glimpses of Whitney's curves as she approached the mirror in the studio,
then turned and strode back.
The other models all looked awkward and amateurish compared to her.
Here is glimpse of Whitney standing in place,
then proceeding with another walk, back to the mirror.
Whitney's runway strut is already so accomplished that she could have been the session's teacher, rather than one of the pupils.
Her curves make her walk especially sinuous and feminine.
The posing portion of the challenge was an interesting one--a discussion of the technique of "posing with pain." Whitney's "pain" cue, as given by Tyra, was, "You're windburned and your lips hurt."
Whitney's technique was so impressive that Tyra freely enthused, "Whitney's poses were fantastic. She does really well."
The challenge served up several more glimpses of Whitney while the other contestants were posing: first, a reverse view;
next, a particularly attractive "serious" glance (all the lovelier because the light made Whitney's complexion look fairer than ever);
next, a profile;
and finally, a casual smile.* * *
If anyone ever needed a demonstration of why long tresses are essential for plus-size models, here it is. Just look at Whitney bounding in to receive the daily "Tyra Mail" epistle,
her hair tumbling every which way,
then flowing behind her, making her seem every bit the storybook princess.
Tyra's message identified the winner of the posing challenge. In the tense moments leading up to the announcement, the camera caught an especially gorgeous headshot of Whitney, her facial features exhibiting the rich beauty of self-indulgence.
Alas, the winner turned out to be another girl, and the prize--a shoot with photographer Nigel Barker. Afterwards, Whitney confessed to the camera how much she would have enjoyed such a shoot.
Upon the winner's return, Whitney quizzed her as to the nature of the shoot--which turned out to be . . . a nude bedroom setting. (After the show, Whitney's fans were inconsolable, realizing what a priceless opportunity had been missed.)
One of the treats of ANTM
is that it offers glimpses of the models in casual attire. Here is Whitney is a very relaxed outfit.
This episode only offered two of Whitney's camera confessionals--which is a pity, as these are always the most enjoyable parts of the show.
But returning to the "casual" theme, the episode also caught Whitney in several unguarded moments--once showing off her gorgeous legs during a dispute with another model,
and later, possibly ruing the intensity of the argument.
In perhaps the only indication of the show's Christmas-time filming schedule, the camera caught a glimpse of Whitney enjoying a candy-cane. Small picture or not, it is an extremely pretty one. Notice what a cute accessory a piece of candy can make.* * *
And now, we come to the episode's main photoshoot--the one that Whitney aced. For our money, she actually looked prettier standing in the sun prior to the photo session than she did in the final "look."
The girls were each assigned a musical genre to embody, and Whitney's was "grunge" (shudder). What a pity that she wasn't assigned the "classical" genre, and dressed in a strapless evening gown in order to portray a concert violinist. However, like a true professional, Miss Thompson rose to the challenge.
In the excerpts video (linked below), listen to all of the copious praise that the photographer, Russell James, and photoshoot director Jay Manuel, gave Whitney for her performance.* * *
And finally, we come to the episode's panel--which always provides a welcome opportunity to see Whitney in "serious mode."
Notice a suggestion of Whitney's reverse-view curves in this capture,
and enjoy this example of her adopting the "pain posing" technique.
From Whitney's expression just after her call-out ranking was announced, fans could tell that she knew
she deserved to win.
In another demonstration of the beauty of long hair, watch her tresses twirl as she leaves the podium.
But, as we said initially, the victory was bittersweet. Whitney was genuinely saddened to hear of Aimee's departure--and looked lovely in her sorrow.
The most moving scene in the show was Whitney's tender embrace of Aimee, after the latter's expulsion was announced.
But the good news is that Whitney has survived for another week--and has done what no plus-size model has ever done before, earning pride of place for the week's shoot.
We look forward to next week's episode.
- Click here to view video excerpts