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Pop Fashion: Watching ANTM in a post-Susan Boyle world

Look out blogulotion! This week on America's Next Top Model the girls are in Brazil! And we learn, once again, that being a model is not just about being pretty. Being a model is about pleasing Tyra. And Tyra is pleased when girls learn to find their inner "fierce." And of course that means accepting themselves as they look. That is, of course, unless that girl is an aspiring non plus sized model who gains too much weight. Last week, London, who had really been a favorite of the judges, was sent home for vague reasons about not owning her something something. Really, she was sent home cause she got too fat. The episode centered on how London had gained about 15 pounds since the beginning of this cycle, and there were frequent shots of before and after photos. Tyra seemed to fight for London to stay on, but the other judges wanted to send her home (when Tyra said there was something special or different about her, Ms. J said what was different was all that weight).

Susan Boyle may have shocked America by being ugly and having talent, but Tyra has been redefining our culture's conception of beauty for years. In fact, in this cycle, each week when we go into panel we get to see the same promo that tells us how Tyra wants to help "future girls" (fetuses? twinkle's in a mother's eye?) find their inner fierce-ness. After seeing how much Tyra just wants all girls to feel good about themselves, the models are told why they aren't good enough to be on top and someone is sent home.

This week we learn that modeling isn't just about being pretty as the "prettiest" girl, Natalie, is (finally!) eliminated. Tyra explains (once again) that modeling is not actually about finding pretty girls at all, it's about finding girls with "model-y" features. And because these model looking girls are not necessarily pretty (though they take georgeous photos) modeling is actually all about redefining beauty. While Natalie is beautiful, she just couldn't take good photos, and she wasn't good at other things models have to do--like martial arts.

I'm actually glad that Natalie's gone--she was a total biotch. Even moreso than most of the girls. My favorite, Allison, is finally doing better, which makes me happy. Celia (the super old model--remember how we learned that old people can be models too?) took one bad picture and was completely under attack from all the judges. Paulina said she just isn't very photogenic (which is odd, seeing how that's pretty much the only thing a model needs to be...) and Tyra said that although Celia is 25 she looks like she's the same age at Tyra. I couldn't believe that Tyra was insinuating that to look like her is to look old! You don't look a day over 25, Tyra! Which is impressive, since in the first episode of this cycle, she claimed to be the several thousand year old goddess of fierce. When Tyra mentioned Celia's age you could hear the collective gasp and then vomit from the other judges. It was beautiful (on the inside).

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  1. Blogger Sean | 1:40 PM |  

    Arrgghh!!! Beauty is a talent!

    Let me ask you, what is a talent? To me, a talent is 1 part natural ability and 1 part effort. Those parts can be weighted differently but the combination results in a talent.

    Ex: Michael Jordan was born with athletic features and a natural tendency to kick ass at sports. Then he busted his ass practicing all the time and bam, he's awesome at sports. Michael Jordan is talented.

    Ex2: Our friend Arun has gifts that make him a great songwriter. He hears music in a way that is beyond that of the average person. Arun practices guitar and piano a ton. Arun writes songs that make Chris explode with joy. Arun is talented.

    Now why is beauty not a talent? It's certainly something some people are born with. Good genes, good metabolism, symmetrical features. But it's also something that has to be maintained. Beautiful people have to work out, eat crappy, 'healthy' food, pay attention to fashion, and all that other stuff that is time-consuming and requires effort. Sometimes I watch Oprah and they do a makeover episode. They take some totally frumpy loser and turn them into someone actually kind of hot. These people have natural beauty but they don't apply themselves. Outward beauty requires effort beyond some natural qualities. Just like sports, just like music.

    Of course there are times where the ratio of natural ability and effort is lopsided. Mozart was like 90% genius, 10% effort. But I would still say he was talented even if he did little to gain such desirable ability.

    And guess what else, beauty, like most other talents, fade over time. Michael Jordan is still awesome but not near as great as he was 15 years ago. And Arun is cool now but I bet his 15th album won't be nearly as mind-blowing as album number 3. So why is beauty somehow different?

    Yes, I'll admit that often great singers are also great looking (think young Billy Joel). But that's because they're in the entertainment business and that's just naturally shallow. You can find plenty of ugly people with great voices singing in churches and karaoke bars across America. If i have to choose between watching Susan Boyle and Aimee Mann sing a sensual song, I'm going to choose Aimee Mann because she's attractive and because her beauty contributes to the escapist nature of the song for me. Even so, that doesn't mean beauty is not a talent.

    I will concede that beauty pageants are creepy and gross and weird.

  2. Blogger Sean | 1:42 PM |  

    *fades. i made a typo.

  3. Blogger qualler | 1:43 PM |  

    Wow Sean, you're a jerk!

    Just kidding, you're cool.

    You do indeed have a great point. A lazy bum who is also a super genius at math is only a lazy bum until he applies himself, just like Good Will Hunting.

  4. Blogger Sean | 1:45 PM |  

    Making a rational point = Being a jerk (just kidding)

    Yeah, I guess my tone is a little bit "take that!"

  5. Blogger Brigitte | 2:07 PM |  

    Beauty is not a talent, but modeling is. There is a distinction between modeling and beauty. yes, models must be beautiful (to some degree) but they must also be able to take good pictures, etc. If there's one thing I've learned from Tyra, it's that modeling is not about "beauty."

  6. Blogger Brigitte | 2:09 PM |  

    even if you want to make the argument that beauty is a talent, that's not really what modeling is about. doi, sean.

  7. Blogger Sean | 2:13 PM |  

    My argument was in reaction to this sentence:

    "Susan Boyle may have shocked America by being ugly and having talent, but Tyra has been redefining our culture's conception of beauty for years." (boldness added)

    Because the conjunction used made the implicit statement that talent is separate from beauty. I agree, modeling takes waaaaaaaaay more than looks. "Find the lights."

  8. Blogger qualler | 2:15 PM |  

    What about inner beauty? Am I right, Lady Amy?

  9. Blogger Brigitte | 2:20 PM |  

    that statement means that talent and beauty were NOT separated--which is why it's surprising that someone can lack beauty (which was formerly equated with talent) but can still possess talent. yes, it separates the two. Separating the two does not mean that beauty has nothing to do with talent, it just means Beauty does not equal talent, and that you can be ugly and also talented. Beauty is A (as in one of many) talent. Beauty is not synonymous with talent.

  10. Blogger Brigitte | 2:21 PM |  

    it's like saying singing is a talent, which is true. that does not mean, however, that singing=talented. I can have other talents but not be able to sing.

  11. Blogger Brigitte | 2:27 PM |  

    and yes, finding the light is hard. though, whenever i have a dream in which i'm a contestant, i'm always excellent at finding my light. and i produce great photos. and then i say "this is so easy!" and leave the other models in my dust.

  12. Blogger chris | 3:12 PM |  

    Brigitte so owned you, Sean.

    Just because beauty can be a talent (it also cannot be - there are beautiful girls that put little to no effort into being hot, similar to your Mozart analogy) doesn't mean that you can't say America has a sick compulsion to say "you have to be beautiful to have (another) talent".

  13. Blogger Sean | 3:14 PM |  

    I disagree.

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