Last week's episode of America's Next Top Model
was both wonderful and terrible.
Wonderful because it featured many stunning new images of Whitney Thompson
and--most fascinating of all--because it included footage of a TV commercial that she filmed for CoverGirl cosmetics.
Terrible because it revealed--as never before--just how prejudiced the fashion industry is against the fuller female figure, and how it internalizes and propagates the cult of unhealthy emaciation.* * *
After presenting a soulful new image of Whitney from the previous week's judging (in which the panel was utterly brutal toward her),
the episode showed the girls arriving at their international destination--Rome. Whitney was in high spirits, her blonde tresses flying every which way (demonstrating yet again how imperative it is for full-figured goddesses to have long hair).
In the first of many beautiful new confessionals, Whitney enthused, "I am super excited. I've never been to Italy before. Rome is a huge fashion capital."
The program showed the girls touring the Eternal City, taking in the sights. Whitney, clearly the most culturally-literate of the girls, was more awestruck than any of her competitors, and was the most receptive to the history around her."Everywhere you go,"
she said, "there's something. There's some amazing architectural ruin. You can feel the history."
Whitney's camera confessionals have proven to be the most delightful moments of every episode, and this week was no exception.
Just look at how robust and well-fed, how full and doll-like, her facial features appear here.
As she reflected, "I am super excited because, since I am a plus-size model, it's a really huge deal that I'm here. (No pun intended.)"
She added, "Only one plus-size model has ever made it this far, so I'm so grateful, so happy to be here."
As the girls toured Rome, the camera caught many glimpses of Whitney with her luxuriant tresses floating around her like a golden halo.
Upon receiving a special delivery of "Tyra Mail," Whitney was, as always, given the honour of reading the epistle. And no wonder, since she has the clearest speaking voice of any of the contestants.
Observe how Whitney always stands out in the midst of the other girls, dressed in angelic white while the rest are garbed in dismal blacks and greens. And notice an utterly adorable detail here--one of those signature girlish Whitney attributes that make her so beloved by her fans--the fact that she is holding . . . a teddy bear in her arms (!). So
cute--and so refreshing, in a day and age when women are no longer allowed to be girly.
The Tyra letter directed the girls to their new home--which impressed Whitney no end.
As she excitedly related--sensually playing with her hair as she did--"I thought our New York place was amazing, but we have a pool in the middle of our house, and fountains, and all this artwork . . ."
It stands to reason that Whitney should repeatedly express her delight in the artwork of Rome. Those artifacts represent the pinnacle of Classical civilization, and, as a plus-size goddess, Whitney personally embodies the ideal of beauty that the Classical world enshrined.
The episode next featured a discussion around the dinner table--and fans were especially pleased to see Whitney eating heartily.
Little details like this are so important, as they show young ANTM
viewers that if they wish to grow up to become as beautiful as Whitney, they can only do so through indulgence, not starvation.
It is beyond doubt that the show's cameraman has a crush on Whitney, as he takes every opportunity to capture even her tiniest, charming gestures, and to record her every delightful, girlish giggle.* * *
If there was ever any doubt as to Whitney's natural beauty, such doubt has now been dispelled. Anyone can look pretty via elaborate cosmetics and styling, but to look gorgeous first thing in the morning--that is a rare gift.
This is how Miss Thompson looks when she rolls out of bed--truly a fairy-tale princess, if ever there was one. It is almost incomprehensible that anyone could look this gorgeous upon first awakening.
Like any true goddess, Whitney obviously prefers lazily sleeping in, and she offered a few choice comments about the girl who dared to disturb her beauty sleep,
but she still looked angelic, even while critiquing her fellow competitor.
In Whitney's most casual moments, strolling around the house, she looks every bit as lovely as she does in photoshoots.
These candid pictures allow fans to delight in her round facial features, and in her signature voluptuous hairstyle--a bit of Chloe Agnew, a bit of Charlotte Coyle.
But the confessionals remain Whitney's most charming moments--showing the model with a mischievous glint in her eyes.
Whitney's observations about her fellow competitors are never mean-spirited, but they are extremely witty, such as the incident that led to this moment of bemusement,
which prompted her to comment (with conscious irony) about her friend on the program: "Oh, Anya--so blonde."* * *
The episode then proceeded to the first challenge of the week--and en route, Whitney once again stood out from her competitors, this time in her look-at-me red coat.
The girls were shown zipping around Rome in Segways,
(the camera always keeping Whitney in frame,)
and eventually arriving at the studio of Italian designer Gai Mattiolo.
As Whitney described in her next confessional, Mattiolo is one of the more notable Italian designers.
And if her past unpleasant experiences with size-negative designer Pamella Roland troubled her, she certainly didn't let it show.
She did, however, acknowledge a concern that the designer might not have clothes in her size.
(Notice her lovely blonde hair cascading down her back.)
Incidentally, in case any fans missed it, the structure in the background of Whitney's camera asides is the dome of St. Peter's Basilica. The blending of architectural beauty and the model's physical loveliness in these confessionals is wondrous.
But back to the Gai Mattiolo studio. Whitney eventually found an item that she liked, and the scene of her appraising herself in the mirror was one of those particularly exciting Whitney moments.
The intoxicating vanity in her gaze is unmistakable. One almost expects her to ask, "Mirror, mirror on the wall...?" as she looks at herself with undisguised self-love, carefully arranging her magnificent tresses.
Nothing in the world is more attractive than a goddess who allows herself such moments of undisguised conceit.
While waiting for her turn to perform a runway walk in front of Gai Mattiolo, Whitney displayed a fascinating variety of emotions and expressions, from quietly elegant,
to endearingly vain.
Even when it was another model's moment to walk before the designer, Whitney dramatically ran her fingers through her hair, needing to be the centre of attention at all times.
And then, when it finally was her turn, she put all of the other girls to shame.
Whitney's walk was far sexier than that of her rivals, her motions more voluptuous, exuding full-blooded sensuality.
She is quite simply more of a woman than any of her rivals, and her movements flow naturally from her more vividly feminine nature.
She strolled past the designer as if he was lucky just to have the opportunity of gazing upon her in person.
In a final turn at the end of her walk, she looked like the reincarnation of Anita Ekberg.
However, here was where the trouble began. Although Whitney was entertained when the designer said that she was "so American"
(and just look and how full and gorgeous her face appears here),
she also heard him praise one model after another for being "skinny," or having "skinny legs."
Worst of all, the prize for winning the challenge was the opportunity to exhibit one of the designer's dresses in a runway show--a dress that was already sewn, and was barely a size 2
So once again, this was a challenge that Whitney was explicitly ineligible to win. The injustice that she has had to endure on this program is limitless.
Nevertheless, she bore the ordeal with her usual professionalism,
and when the winner was about to be announced, she shook her tresses over her shoulders, as if to remind the designer that if he could only look past his size-prejudice, he would see that she was clearly the most beautiful and talented model.
But it was not to be. Whitney couldn't disguise her disappointment as another model was chosen as the winner (yet look at how soft and gorgeous her face appears here).
The camera caught a glimpse of alluring wickedness in Whitney, as her look turned to near-disgust as the prize (the size-2 dress) was announced. Her expression seemed to say, "Can't you see that the other girls are nothing compared to me?"--and she was right to feel this way.
In a camera aside just after the challenge, she bemoaned, "And what am I doing here?"
after recounting her competitor's win. Her frustration is the understandable and rightful indignation of someone who knows that she possesses superior beauty, talent, and desire, and feels that she should be rewarded accordingly.* * *
But Whitney's low spirits didn't last long. Upon arriving back at their apartment, the girls found their next epistle from "Tyra Mail,"
which Whitney--naturally--was given the honour of reading.
This picture of Miss Thompson is one of our all-time favourites, showing as it does her facial features looking especially sumptuous--exemplifying the visibly well-fed beauty of a Lillian Russell, or a Helene Fourment.
The letter informed the girls of their main challenge of the week--filming a CoverGirl commercial (in Italian). When you watch the episode's video excerpts (linked below), don't miss Whitney perfectly mimicking the voice in the "Hey, CoverGirl!" TV commercials of the 1970s & '80s.* * *
Getting the chance to film a commercial gave Whitney altogether new energy. Just look at how gorgeous she appeared in the camera confessionals in which she described the nature of the challenge.
Her facial features look especially opulent, and notice that beloved attribute of plus-size models, the "slight rise" of a "slope toward the throat."
Although the director required that Whitney's hair be tied back in a bun, note how luxuriant it looked while the stylist was brushing it.
Behind-the-scene preparation shots are often the most sensual moments in ANTM
episodes. Whitney's over-the-shoulder pose in this still echoes a famous Shannon Marie tearsheet from Mode.
Notice the attractive details like the delicate strap over her shoulder, precariously holding her garment, and the soft curves escaping her top.
Whitney's performance in the commercial was utterly perfect, so far surpassing her rivals' efforts that they seemed embarrassingly amateurish by contrast.
Be sure to view the video to appreciate all of the deft glances and coy looks that Whitney exhibited during filming.
She was vivacious, bubbly, vibrant, and fun, her every movement pleasing to the eye.
The extras were utterly hypnotized by her beauty, and had obviously never seen such a gorgeous woman before in their lives.
What made Whitey even more striking was her eye-catching wardrobe, which showed off her buxom charms, and did not
constrict her well-fed figure. Notice the sensual swell of her waist in this capture.
Whitney also handled the Italian astonishingly well--far better than did any of her rivals. Her soft voice effortlessly adapted to the Latinate language.
Notice, in this capture, how the actor portraying her boyfriend found himself understandably mesmerized by her decolletage.
But Whitney is elegant as well as sexy, and invited a very chaste kiss from the actor--a kiss on the cheek, in true European style.
She also went beyond the script, adding charming extra touches, like glancing to the side to let the light illuminate her kissable apple cheeks,
and finally, gazing coyly at the camera.
The performance was so brilliant, that the entire crew should have been speechless at her talent. But instead, incomprehensibly, they seemed to want her to perform in a duller, flatter, more monotonous manner.
Don't miss this cute moment in the video, as Whitney puffs her face when the director accuses her of sucking in her cheeks.
In a camera aside, Whitney related her understandable frustration with the feedback that she received, since she correctly surmised that her own approach to the commercial was far better--far closer to that of a real TV ad.
However, bizarre as Jay Manuel's feedback may have been, fans could hardly complain, as the extra takes produced further gorgeous images of Whitney, such as this dizzying display of her plump decolletage,
and these, the most luscious figure shots of the entire episode, in which the soft swell of her abdomen was clearly visible.
Despite modern media myths to the contrary, a curvy waist, and a full abdomen, are actually the most seductive figure features of all.* * *
Back at the girls' apartment after the shoot, the camera showed us a rather dispirited Whitney.
Painful as such moments are, in that one empathizes with Whitney's ill spirits, she nevertheless appears so chic and elegant in her "down" moments that one enjoys seeing these images, and wishes that she would incorporate such looks into her photoshoots.
The episode presented one last camera confessional before the judging, and all of the hallmarks of Whitney's beauty were visible, from her full face,
to the soft curves of neck,
to her captivating glances.* * *
The panel portion of the episode was set in an opulent Roman chamber, as this screencap illustrates. It was a highly appropriate setting for Whitney's timeless beauty.
Indefatigable as ever, Whitney was all smiles prior to the evaluation,
just as she was when she stepped out to confront the panel.
The judges then screened her complete commercial:
The viewer could perceive Whitney's mood change from confident,
as one by one, the narrow-minded judges faulted her commercial for the silliest of reasons.
In one moving moment, she almost seemed at the point of despair,
but the one person who understood Whitney's approach, and genuinely appreciated her commercial, was Tyra Banks herself. Tyra said, "I liked it. When you walked in, it looked like a real commercial to me. I thought you did a really good job, actually."
This gave Whitney considerable relief.
Nevertheless, viewers could still see the apprehension in her face as the judges sent the girls off while they deliberated.* * *
During the judging, the panel reviewed the most enticing portions of Whitney's commercial--the opening sequence, in which her expressions were as alluring as those of a silver-screen goddess.
Tyra's praise wasn't enough to allay Whitney's fears as the girls were called back for the elimination.
The most frustrating aspect of the judging must have been for Whitney to hear one girl after another again praised for "looking like a model" (i.e., emaciated), no matter how poor their actual performances in the commercial were.
In the end--incomprehensibly--Whitney was in the bottom two.
A look of impending doom was in her eyes--and viewers felt the dread as keenly as she did, for Cycle 10 of ANTM
has really been Whitney's story, from beginning to end.
Week by week, fans have been privileged to hear her express her most heartfelt emotions. They have cheered her triumphs, and decried the injustices that she has faced.
But right at the end, when Whitney's elimination seemed inevitable--even to herself,
she was spared, causing her to audibly gasp. Fans could see the relief in her whole body.
It was a humbled Whitney who moved on to the next round.
She looked just like a little girl when she gazed up at Tyra with gratitude in her eyes,
and courteously and sincerely thanked the judges--as she always does.
A final hug for her eliminated rival. Note that Whitney--womanly in everything she does--hugged in the feminine manner, under the arms, while the other girl adopted the more masculine style of embrace.
There was no gloating in Whitney's eyes at the conclusion, for she knew how close she had come to being cut.
We earnestly hope to see her survive past the forthcoming episode, to continue competing on behalf of curvy girls everywhere.
- Click here to view video excerpts