The opening of last week's installment of America's Next Top Model
picked up right where the previous episode left off, with Whitney having barely survived her second-in-a-row bottom-two appearance.
In the extra shot that the program provided from her nail-biting near-elimination, you can see how shaken Whitney was by the ordeal. Her confidence clearly took a serious blow.
On the ride back from panel to the girls' apartment in Rome, a vulnerable-looking Whitney described her feelings to her fellow competitors: "I was completely shocked that the judges called my name. I could have been cut last week. That's nerve-racking.""You don't like being in that situation. I definitely don't want to be there again."
She added, "Now I definitely have to prove to the judges that I do want to be here."
But Whitney never lets her spirit be broken, never lets her good humour flag for long. She always rallies, drawing on an inner reservoir of strength.
And by the time the girls made it back to the apartment, her sunny disposition had returned.
For this, the penultimate Whitney episode, the show went out of its way to allow her full beauty to shine, giving her the most stunning appearance that she has ever had in her celebrated confessionals, with her hair arranged in thick, romantic waves.
She further described her state of mind as a series of flashback clips of her greatest ANTM
moments played--including her most gorgeous footage ever, the glimpse of her soft figure decorated in ribbons in the post-makeover photoshoot.
She affirmed, "For the past couple of weeks, I've been really nervous. I have to just not be posey, just be natural."
And she added, in one of her most noble statements to date--one that indicates that she truly is in the show for something larger than herself, for a principle, for a cause--"Even making it this far, though, it still gets the word out. America, and
America's Next Top Model, are ready for a plus-size model to win the competition."* * *
After this series of remarkably candid statements from Whitney, the show proceeded to one of its ever-popular domestic interludes. The contestants returned to their apartment to find it decorated with posters of the winner of ANTM, Cycle 9.
Even when Whitney is not at a shoot, and is simply relaxing at home, her face naturally generates photogenic expressions, like this imperious mien,
which shifts, in a flash, to a more soulful, feminine look.
Throughout the episode, the camera caught numerous scenes of Whitney eating--or having eaten--or at least being in the presence of food. Thank goodness that the young girls who are viewing this cycle are seeing at least one gorgeous young woman on television who is adamantly not
Notice how buxom Whitney appears in this still. The composition of the shot, with the succulent fruit prominently placed in the background, is a subtle reinforcement of the correlation between natural beauty and robust health.
When viewing the video excerpts (linked below), don't miss an adorable bit of petulance from Whitney, as she expresses some understandable annoyance about another girl pilfering her stores, saying of her, "And she's always taking other people's food. She always takes my food. Get your own damn food."
A quickly-glanced profile shot captured Whitney's most celebrated and gorgeous facial feature, the "slight rise" of a "slope toward the throat."
And in the video clip, don't miss what may be the most adorable domestic scene of Whitney yet (from which the following capture is taken), as she lets out an ever-so-cute, unself-conscious sigh, and sinks softly into her chair.* * *
The following day brought the girls their challenge of the week. Beforehand, however, the camera caught this remarkable shot of Whitney combing her magnificent tresses, looking for all the world like a mermaid of fable and folklore.
The challenge was a novel and interesting one--the girls were asked to switch roles from models to photographers, and to shoot one of the cycle's judges, model Paulina Porizkova.
When a model is as beautiful as Whitney, it seems contrary to nature for her to be behind the lens rather than in front of it, but Whitney did very well in this challenge.
One of her rival contestants said of her performance: "Whitney comes across as real professional and that she knows what she's doing. She's directing Paulina here, knows that this is going to be the perfect lighting, and everything."
During the photo session, Paulina herself said of her work: "Whitney was a lot of fun to shoot with as a photographer. She didn't hesitate."
Guest judge Ann Shoket, the editor-in-chief of Seventeen
magazine, added, "From your film, your beauty shots really hit your stride. The light was on her face, she looked beautiful. Those were really great photos."
When it came to the girls' evaluations, Paulina offered even more praise for Whitney's approach, saying, "I actually really liked taking pictures with you, because you had sort of a firm hand, and you didn't hesitate, and you told me exactly what you wanted, when you wanted it, and it's, like, boom, boom, boom.""And when somebody talks to you like that, you feel like they know what they're talking about."
But the most entertaining comments--as always--came from Whitney herself. In an on-location confessional, she observed, "I actually had a lot of fun shooting the other girls, because I got to see what their strengths and weaknesses were."
She added--in one of those wonderful, uniquely Whitney moments of unself-conscious vanity that make her so irresistible, so beloved by her fans, "It's nice to know that it's hard to find a good picture of my competition."
But really, no matter how accomplished her photography was, the scene was most rewarding for the simple fact that it featured many gorgeous images of Whitney in a natural setting.
The sunlight bathed her tresses in a golden glow, as if she were illuminated by a divine light.
Our favourite of the challenge pictures is this one, in which Whitney's face looks especially soft, and therefore utterly gorgeous.
But the image of the week, the loveliest picture of all from this episode, must be the following still, from one of her many beautiful confessionals. Notice how full, how intoxicatingly well-fed, her facial features appear here.
In this episode, for all of her girlish softness, Whitney exhibited a new-found resolve. She observed, "The competition, honestly, is getting so fierce right now."
And with a determination that we haven't heard from her before, she added, "This is my chance to prove to the judges that I am serious about this competition, to hold my place here, and make it very well known that I'm not going to give up without a fight."* * *
After the challenge, the episode continued with another domestic interlude, offering more gorgeous glimpses of Whitney in a casual setting.
She is so innately expressive that it is fascinating to observe the many different emotions that her facial features reveal during her conversations with her fellow competitors, from seductively haughty, above, to supremely confident, below,
to a humorous "Oh, really?" look, here:
Observe the classical beauty of her profile,
especially when her countenance is softened by a slight smile.
Fans are still divided whether Whitney's serious or joyful expressions show off her beauty best, but these contemplative moments argue for the former.
There is something coyly seductive about this picture.
The domestic interlude ended as it always does, with the arrival of the weekly "Tyra Mail" missive.
Whitney, as ever, was the girl tasked with reading the epistle, since her voice is the softest and clearest--and since this gave the cameraman an excuse to capture her lovely features in close-up.
When watching the video clip, don't miss a delightful moment at the end of this scene, when Whitney breaks the "fourth wall" and speaks directly to the camera, offering a witticism about the cryptic nature of their latest correspondence.
Before setting off for the episode's photoshoot, however, Whitney appeared in one more confessional, and struck perhaps the rawest, most determined tone that she has in the entire show to date.
She said, with sincere emotion, and with a new resolve in her voice, "I've worked so hard to become part of the final four. I'm not finished. You know, this isn't... This isn't where I stop."
Listening to her words, looking at her beauty, the viewer cannot believe that she could ever be denied anything she wants.* * *
Whitney looked particularly soft-featured and gorgeous as she arrived at the location for the week's main photoshoot.
The fact that her complexion has grown steadily fairer over the course of the competition has increased her beauty week by week.
Miss Thompson's appearance while being made up for photoshoots is every bit as attractive as is her final look. She seems to genuinely enjoy being beautified--and who can blame her?
Always acknowledging Whitney's healthy appetite, the camera even caught her eating during the behind-the-scenes preparations.
In a slightly risqué shot of Whitney's pin-up-girl legs, the camera also caught her in a state of partial undress. (Models must forego all modesty during photoshoots.)
Once done up, Whitney appraised her own appearance with a haughty glance in the mirror, as if to say, "All must worship me."
And who could resist such seductive vanity, such thrilling conceit?
But Miss Thompson's self-love is not wicked; rather, it is another component of her playful character. Look at how innocent and girlish she appeared just a moment later, listening attentively to the creative director's instructions.
Whitney's final look for this shoot was the loveliest that she has been given for any photo session in the entire competition.
It also highlighted her resemblance to Anita Ekberg. Given the Roman setting of this portion of the contest, it's a pity that this shoot did not involve a re-creation of the Trevi Fountain scene from La dolce Vita.* * *
Whitney arrived on set looking utterly delectable, wowing every member of the crew.
The theme of the shoot was "Actress and boyfriend are caught in the glare of the paparazzi's lens," and Whitney showed off her curvaceous figure in every frame. Notice how her sinuous pose exhibits her curvy abdomen, as well as what Tyra refers to as her "booty."
The latter feature is on display in the following still.
The entire shoot was a tour-de-force of Whitney's modelling prowess, and it was remarkable to see how quickly and effortlessly she switched from one pose and expression to another. Note how, in this picture, she appears enamoured of her "boyfriend's" protective manliness,
while here, she exhibits the "surprised" look required by the theme of the shoot.
Here she appears especially vulnerable and feminine (the most seductive of qualities), imploring her man to defend her. Note how luscious and full her figure appears in the picture.
Here is a particularly playful and eye-catching pose from Whitney. Her originality and creative is simply astonishing, and more evident here than in any episode since the Fuerza Bruta "water" shoot.
This image of an annoyed-looking Whitney is especially glamorous. Note how much her sumptuous beauty is enhanced by the fullness of her facial features, and by her thick tresses tumbling heavily over her shoulders, as if testifying to the model's alluring indolence.
A moment later, Whitney was playful again, and charming.
The next two stills show her blink-of-an-eye versatility, going from breathily sexy, here,
to seductively self-satisfied, here.
Another two-picture comparison shows how much she can communicate just by altering the look in her eyes, from wild and rapacious--hungry for more--here,
to an appetitive, come-hither look of invitation, here--as if saying, "Try to take me from him, if you dare."
One final two-picture comparison further attests to Whitney's modelling prowess. She seems cautiously curious here,
while here, she appears to be melting into her boyfriend's arms. What makes this pose so heart-stoppingly sexy is that the viewer perceives the alluring heaviness of her figure, as she leans with her full weight into her man's embrace.
A more distant shot is perhaps the best indication of her curvy abdomen.
But the supreme figure shot is this one. Notice that she isn't sucking in her waist, but is allowing the decadent countours of her profile to be clearly displayed.
Afterwards, the photographer offered an appraisal of Whitney's performance during the shoot,
and viewers were treated to a breathtaking close-up that highlighted her stunning hairstyle and soft face. The European setting harmonizes with Whitney's Old World look in a way that no modern location ever could. Her timeless beauty clearly belongs in an environment such as this.
In her post-shoot confessional, however, Whitney was uncommonly modest.
She admitted to the camera, "I think that this shoot was really difficult."
Whitney added, "I tried so many different emotions. I really tried angles with my boyfriend, and, you know, playing with him, and having fun."
The show added an instant-flashback of one of those fun moments.
Whitney even volunteered, "I don't think it was my best shoot."
However, many fans would loudly disagree with this, as the shoot actually presented the model's beauty better than has any photo session to date.
And because Whitney is Whitney, she couldn't help but add one of her signature comments--albeit in an uncommonly modest voice: "However, I felt like I looked really pretty."
Don't miss the playful thumbs-up that she gives afterwards. Goddess that she is, Whitney also has a keen sense of humour, and great timing.* * *
The episode then showed one final domestic interlude before the week's judging. How delightful it was to see another glimpse of Whitney indulging herself. With her size-positive attitude, her unabashedly appetitive nature, and her extraordinary beauty, she is the best TV role model that young girls have today. She could single-handedly do much to counter the toxic "beauty=starvation" recipe that is otherwise foisted on young women.
With her hair still dressed in the gorgeous style that she was given for her photoshoot, Whitney's scenes in this domestic interlude were her loveliest ever.
Each image further confirmed the benefits of "voluptuous volume" as an aid to timeless beauty.
But despite her comeliness, Whitney--haunted by several weeks of near-eliminations--was not sanguine about her prospects in the forthcoming judging.
Her final and most gorgeous confessional revealed an uncertainty and modesty. She observed that "Being in the bottom two twice in a row is really bad, and so far, in this competition, every girl that that's happened to has gone home the second time"
--a thought that weighed heavily on her.
Yet somehow, Whitney managed to look gorgeous even while acknowledging these doubts. If anything, they enhanced her beauty still further.* * *
Despite her trepidation, Whitney entered the judging room as self-assured as ever.
She smirked during the lead-in,
and looked comfortable with herself as the prizes were announced.
Perhaps she revealed a glimmer of concern in the following still,
but she approached the panel as poised as ever, ruddy with health and vitality.
The judges were rightly impressed with Whitney's picture. Paulina (not hitherto a vocal Whitney supporter) said, "I think this is the first time that I've seen a photograph do you justice. This is how beautiful you actually are."
And Tyra added, "I think your face looks absolutely stunning."
Whitney looked serenely beautiful, utterly angelic, during the panel's critique.
However, some of the comments must have secretly annoyed her.
Whitney must have been especially nonplussed when Tyra commented, "He is protecting you, and he's saying, 'Get away.' That's when you're supposed to almost be that woman, like, 'Oh, protect me. I'm weak.' 'Oh, help me, darling. Giuseppe, help me.'"
After all, as we noted in the screencaps from the shoot, that is exactly the mien that Whitney presented in several of the shots that were not
selected for judging.
Runway coach J. Alexander said, "You look like you're looking at Nigel, going, 'I know I'm fine,'"
--and yet, as noted above, Whitney had done much more than this in many of the shots throughout the photo session.
Guest judge Ann Shoket paid Whitney a somewhat-nice compliment, saying, "You've got gorgeous shoulders. That's a great frame."
It is encouraging to hear a magazine editor praising a model's figure, not just her face.
Incidentally, here is a wider view of the show's judging room--an opulently-appointed chamber that suits Whitney's beauty to a T. Her Classical appearance harmonizes perfectly with the decor, especially by providing a feminine compliment to the masculine statuary.
Despite the unfair criticisms, Whitney left the panel exhibiting her usual good spirits.* * *
During the panel's private deliberations--after the models left the room--one judge after another complimented Whitney's photo as a "beautiful picture," noting her "stunning face."
Ann Shoket, however, added an remarkable comment about Whitney:
"She should use some of that va-va-va-voom to her advantage. She's totally covering up her gorgeous body here, and she kind of has to own that sexiness a little bit."
The irony of this was limitless, for two reasons: (1) just one week earlier, Tyra and Jay Manuel had actually criticized
Whitney for flaunting her figure, and had required her to pose in such a way as to diminish her curves, and (2) as shown in the screencaps from the shoot, Whitney exhibited her curves in many of the photographs that were taken. She had no say in which image was selected for panel.
Let us hope that Shoket's comments indicate that whenever a plus-size model appears in Seventeen,
said model will not
be "covered up," and will
be allowed to exhibit her "va-va-va-voom."* * *
Observe the irresistible look of helplessness in Whitney's eyes as the girls were called back into the room. She surely thought that she would be going home.
And in the video clip, watch as there is a moment of stunned silence, and then an audible gasp, as Whitney's name is called. She could barely believe it.
Who can possibly watch the episode and not share Whitney's joy as she approaches Tyra to be "passed" into the final three?
How radiantly happy she appeared, seemingly lit from within, as she received her picture.
"Dream come true" is the phrase that springs to mind.
Again, we saw that vulnerable, little-girl look in her eyes as Tyra acknowledged her abilities. This may be her most endearing expression of all.
She could barely contain her emotions as she quietly thanked the judges.
One more beautiful profile shot as she turned to proceed to the finalists' area.
However, there was no gloating in Whitney's face as she stood and watched the fourth candidate get cut.
Whitney has been in a similar position too often not to empathize with the ordeal of an elimination.
She graciously offered the eliminated contestant a warm hug--and just look at how angelic she appeared while doing so.
Whitney now proceeds to the final episode. A win for her is impossible, given the fashion industry's lingering prejudice against the fuller female figure--a prejudice that has been abundantly visible throughout this program. If the playing field were level, if the competition had been fair, she would easily be the victor--on beauty and on talent.
Also, the simple fact that Elite N.Y. has no plus-size division means that the final prize is one for which she is, yet again, covertly ineligible. Therefore, a third place showing is actually the "glass ceiling" for any plus-size model on the show, and always will be.
Whatever her fate, Whitney has advanced further than any plus-size model before her, and has brought timeless beauty to a wider audience than ever before. Her run on ANTM
has been a bona fide success story, no matter the outcome.
- Click here to view video excerpts