"The Behind-the-Scenes Skinny on Models"
July 8, 2003
By Lisa Lenoir Fashion Editor
Chicago Sun-Times


Twiggy popularized the skinny look in the 1960s, and today the fashion industry continues to perpetuate a lean and lanky ideal.

Tyra Banks is grooming a new generation of models on UPN's "America's Next Top Model." The supermodel and a panel of judges are narrowing the search for the next hot new face at 7 tonight. Although the show's execs boasted it had a plus-size model (Robin Manning at 5-foot-9 and 160 pounds) in its early roundup, the final roster only includes those of the slender group.

Katie Cleary, 21, of Glenview, and Tessa Carlson, 20, of Chicago, were among the participants eliminated in the show's early episodes. Both admit the modeling industry continues to promote the "You can never be too thin" philosophy.

"People are getting really skinny," said Cleary, who wears a Size 3 or 4 and is 5-foot-9. "It's not realistic. Your body type is your body type."

Kimora Lee Simmons, a judge on the show and the designer for Baby Phat, says the line "[covers] a wide variety of shapes and sizes [0 to 26]. This is important to Tyra. She is not the thinnest of models. It is all about shape, proportion and health."

But Carlson is more pragmatic. "Modeling goes through stages," she explained. "While it was the waif look, now I'm starting to see bust jobs and more Playboy looks. I would like it to get away from the over-the-top. I wish there was a stage between waif and over-the-top."