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Old 24th November 2008   #1
Join Date: July 2005
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Default My interview with . . . Whitney Thompson

2008 has been the year of Whitney Thompson.

From February to May, fans watched with mounting astonishment and excitement as she survived week after week of gruelling challenges to take the crown of America's Next Top Model. In so doing, she achieved what no one thought a full-figured model ever could, overcoming 13 determined underweight rivals, and--more significantly--the institutionalized anti-plus bias of the fashion industry, to become the first plus-size winner in the show's history.

Her subsequent modelling successes and media attention have further thrilled plus-size aficionados, particularly the young girls who are her most ardent supporters, and to whom she is a role model for positive body image.

We were therefore delighted to be given the opportunity to speak with Whitney about her experiences, and to ask her a host of questions on behalf of her many fans.

This interview was conducted on July 25, 2008, two months after Miss Thompson's win, and just prior to the shooting of her celebrated CoverGirl commercials. It is the longest and most detailed interview with Whitney to date, and we are grateful to her for giving us so much time, so that we could gain some insight into the industry's one-and-only plus-size Top Model.

Miss Thompson is famous as much for her soft, girlish voice (the prettiest voice of any model currently working in the industry) as for her extraordinary beauty, so no textual transcript can convey the feminine charm of her utterances. Consequently, beside the standard accompanying images, we have also included ten audio clips, which you can hear by clicking on the word "audio" whenever it appears on the page.

Besides discussing important issues relating to body image and the media, Whitney offers numerous juicy details about events that took place during her cycle but never aired in the actual program. She paints a clear picture of what it was really like to be on the show--and to win.

Have you wondered: Will Whitney betray the cause, as so many of her peers have done?

Will she diminish her size? Will she become a shill for diet profiteers?

Read, and find out.

Tear sheet from Supermodels Unlimited magazine, Sept/Oct 2008:

Click to enlarge

- Click here to read interview

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Old 25th November 2008   #2
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Default Re: My interview with . . . Whitney Thompson

After reading this interview, I have more respect for Whitney than ever. I LOVE her attitude and her determination not to surrender to the thin-supremacist fashion establishment. I hope she maintains her resolve. As she says, "Failure is not an option."

Her points about the effect of cultural environment are so important. She was fortunate to have been raised in a family that saw through media rubbish and had a natural view of beauty. Many girls are not so lucky. (I feel so sorry for the girls who, as Whitney says, have moms who are tyrannical about their weight.) That makes it even MORE important for fashion and the media NOT to be a negative influence on these girls, the way it is now, since they are so vulnerable.

Loved this quote:
The people that they're selling the clothes to donít like seeing skeletons walk down the runway in their clothes.
YES. And this was reconfirmed by the article that was just posted on the forum, which proved once again that full-figured models would actually sell clothing better than skinny models, if full-figured models were used in fashion advertising.

If we said "normal" and called skinny girls, you know, "freakishly-skinny models," then I think that would help.
If only girls would understand this! The media & fashion industries create a warped idea of what is "normal", because they only ever use underweight models and actresses. But those anorexic models are actually abnormal - abnormal to the point of being sick. Plus-size and full-figured models and actresses are the only truly normal ones (and even they are below the national average).

Whitney has done as much good with her interviews as she did by winning the show. We need more people speaking out, the way she does.
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Old 25th November 2008   #3
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Default Re: My interview with . . . Whitney Thompson

How interesting to get the "inside scoop" on how ANTM's editors manipulate the models' reality, controlling what they may do and what we are permitted to see. Whitney is so refreshingly genuine and unaffected. This interview is wonderfully fascinating, full of interesting bits of information. And I've already sent Miss Thompson a friend request on Facebook.
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Old 26th November 2008   #4
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Default Re: My interview with . . . Whitney Thompson

This interview also shows, in a way that no interview has demonstrated before, how witty and intelligent Whitney is. Her comments about body image and the media are very perceptive, especially when she notes how easily swayed most people are by what they see on TV. That's why the fashion industry's artificial standard of appearance is so toxic - because girls do internalize it.

It's also wonderful to hear a model finally come out against the fashion industry's ridiculous worship of "angles." Let's face facts: angles are not a natural body shape. Curves are. The only way to create "angles" is by distorting the body into an unnatural form - and that's where diet-starvation/exercise-torture rears its ugly head. It's time for the "angles" fad to end, once and for all, and to get back to a celebration of curves. She's so right about that.

This comment deserves a round of applause:

Even though I definitely had [moments] where I cried, and was very sad, and was sick of the competition, I thought, "No, failure is not an option."

Brave girl. ANTM knew what it was doing when it put her through hell, because Tyra knew that a plus-size winner would be raked over the coals by the anti-plus fashion world. ANTM needed to make sure that Whitney had the inner strength not to fold, not to succumb, but to stand up to the fashion establishment and win.

Incidentally, from the male perspective, I have to say that this is one of the most seductive lines I've ever read in print:

I would bake cookies, and have all the girls decorate them with icing...and then I would eat them. [giggles softly]

Remember that subversive advertising slogan, "Sexy girls have dessert?" It makes the heart flutter to think of that mantra being put into practice...
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Old 27th November 2008   #5
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Default Re: My interview with . . . Whitney Thompson

All of the questions and answers were fascinating, but the most important ones were the first two: will she sell out to diet companies, and will she diminish her figure. Thank God she answered "no" to both. The plus-size community has been betrayed many times before, but perhaps it can put its faith in her. Let's hope.

I found the interview surprisingly touching. It broke my heart when I read about how Whitney hears from young girls whose mothers are demeaning them about their size. It shouldn't be that way! Mothers should protect and defend their daughters, and make them feel good about themselves. They should never hurt their feelings like that. It seems like the worst kind of violation of a mother-daughter bond. I'm glad that Whitney does what she can to assuage their pain, but still - shame on any mothers who treat their daughters this way.

The interview also humanized Whitney a great deal. I empathized with her when she said how difficult it was for her to watch the show - that it even gave her anxiety attacks.

And I agree that the moment when she cried in panel during the last episode (which was altogether one of the most affecting hours of television I've ever seen) was very beautiful. I cried too while watching the episode - at that point, and when she won. It was a wonderful event.
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Old 6th December 2008   #6
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Default Re: My interview with . . . Whitney Thompson

Even though Whitney isn't as full-figured as I wish she was, she makes up for it with her resolutely pro-plus statements. She's always so inspiring, especially in this interview, where she answered more significant questions that the fluff that she usually gets from most fashionista-type sources. She's really perceptive and very smart about the media and its devastating effect on young girls.

I like the fact that the interview mentioned the "cheerleader/prom queen" image. I'm one of the people who really responded to that aspect of Whitney's presentation. I'd love to see a full-figured prom queen or cheerleader character as the romantic lead in a Hollywood film (whether she's the protagonist or antagonist, it wouldn't matter- as long as she would be the star, and get the "hot" guy, etc.). Whitney embodied that role brilliantly, which is one reason why she was so exciting on ANTM.

By the way, Whitney was in on E! News again just yesterday, in a great segment about Charming Shoppes fashions. Here's the video.

Love the hair. She's always such a terrific spokesperson.
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Old 10th December 2008   #7
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Default Re: My interview with . . . Whitney Thompson

Just discovered - two brand-new photos of Whitney.

I really like these. The b&w is elegant and sophisticated.

This one is warm and endearing.

Very fine test photos - some of Whitney's best to date, even though I prefer Whitney in more feminine fashions. But as headshots, they're lovely.
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Old 17th December 2008   #8
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Default Re: My interview with . . . Whitney Thompson

There was a nice piece in the news today about a publicity appearance by Whitney at a New York fashion boutique. Here's the link:

And a photo:

I love reading about the positive impact that she's having on young women:

For teen girls like Julia Selig, 15, meeting "America's Next Top Model" winner Whitney Thompson was a real thrill, since most celebrity models are gauntly thin.

"She's gorgeous and she has a positive body image," Selig said.
These girls as so fortunate to be able to define beauty in plus-size terms, thanks to Whitney's celebrity status.

I'm always delighted that Whitney openly and unashamedly talks about her love of food:

While shuttling between the East Coast and Los Angeles every week, Thompson said she often misses her family and down-home cooking.

"Mashed potatoes, biscuits and gravy, chicken and dumplings," she said with a laugh. "I even got my family to ship me a 6-pound bag of Bisquick."

And Whitney never fails to point out the fallacy of anorexia-worship:

Village resident Dave Osborn took his two daughters and their friend to meet the top model and praised her for becoming a role model for girls.

"The average model looks like she is about to drop from starvation," he said, "which is not a healthy ideal."

Thank goodness Whitney is providing an alternative to the fashion world's toxic standard of appearance.
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