If you must know anything about me in real life, it’s that I am a total girly-girl that loves, covets, and adores makeup. If I had only made a few less trips to Sephora, I might have enough money saved for a down payment on a house by now, but alas…I am an inveterate cosmetics whore. So what a coinky-dink it is, then, to find that this week’s America’s Next Top Model centers around both cosmetics and whores (well, okay, a stripper—but I needed a segue, and really, is it that far a leap?). Makeup, aside from being an implement for beautification and improvement, is also a metaphor for covering up, concealing, deception, making things seem other than they really are. How apropos for today’s episode in which one of our aspiring models confesses to a secret eating disorder, another gets a makeover that appears to change her character as much as her looks, and yet another makes a damning admission that costs her credibility with the judges. All this drama, plus makeovers too, fellow ANTMers!
The show begins with a mini-montage of Cassie sound bytes over scenes of her picking through lettuce leaves and doing leg lifts in her underwear: she talks about her stomach hurting, how she nearly passed out during one of their activities, how obsessed she is with her weight. In one scene, she and some of the girls are, inexplicably, eating while sitting on the floor in one of the halls (perhaps the designers were so busy découpaging Tyra’s visage onto the lampshades that they forgot to put a dining table in this place), and Julie asks how much weight Cassie plans on losing. “I’m just gonna go until I like how I look,” Cassie says. Just short of actually regurgitating while on camera, I don’t know what other red flags you people want.
We also see Amanda, self-proclaimed “Mommy” to everyone, on the phone with her son, Elijah, singing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” before breaking out into tears. She says Eli is her “light,” her…I don’t know what the heck the second word she says is, “jawulf”? “Beowulf”? “Airwolf”? Can one of you intelligent readers out there enlighten me? Anyway, I am further bewildered by her proud boast that he was conceived “to the hour” on September 11th. And this makes him “magical” because…he absorbed the souls of the Twin Towers’ dead? What the heck are you saying, crazy lady?
When the girls receive TyraMail that reads “Long, short, dark, light; It doesn’t matter, we’ll make it right,” it’s pretty clear that it’s makeover time. First thing, next morning, the girls all tromp to the Peter Coppolla salon where Jay Manuel greets them and says that he will be giving them lessons on how to give themselves a fresh, natural look with [product placement]CoverGirl Cosmetics[/product placement]. Of course, what makeover would be complete without dramatic new hairdos, presided over by Anthony Palermo and Leonard Zagomi, stylists.
Tyra strides in and outlines their plans: Kelle will get long, sexy hair extensions; Julie will get 6-8 inches cut off for movement; Yaya gets props for keeping her hair natural, but to make her more versatile, her braids will be coming out and, more importantly, she’ll be sent to one of New York’s best dermatologists to take care of her skin problems; Ann is going blonde (!); Nicole is going “I Love Lucy” red; Toccara will be getting a little more length and thickness; and Kristi, some “edgy” bangs. Jennipher, the resident “Crystal Gayle” tears up when she learns she is getting her waist-length, chestnut locks chopped off to shoulder length, and bleached “very, very blonde.” Tyra also adds that Jennifer’s hair will be donated to the organization, Locks of Love. As a former, long-haired gal myself, I can fully-empathize with Jennipher’s trauma over having her “security blanket” lopped off—I just had that done, myself, a few months ago, and also donated it to the same organization (I also find myself wondering why the judges criticize someone with naturally long hair like Cassie, only to slap extensions on someone else—are these makeovers always a real effort to improve the individual’s looks or is Tyra simply being contrarian?). Cassie will get a weave for “thickening”; Amanda breaks out into a spontaneous dance when she learns she will go “icy blonde”; Eva’s short hair will be cropped even closer, and also lightened (what is with all the blondeness this cycle?); Norelle is likewise getting a chop job, but is also being sent to an orthodontist today to get the “bling bling” off her “grill.”
Next thing you know, the screen is a flurry of tinting brushes and aluminum foil. There are smiles of excitement, as with Kelle and Norelle; there are also tears of dread, as with the aforementioned Jennipher, and Eva (who fears that she will look like a “little white boy” after the are done cutting and coloring). The first results we see are on Nicole, who really is brought from bland to bold with a bright red, Evangelista bob. Next, we see Kristi getting her “natural” [product placement]CoverGirl[/product placement] makeup lesson from Jay, which does seem to help her face look softer and fresher in the results shot (though I swear there is an Adam’s apple in her “before” picture). Toccara loves lovely with a soft, swingy weave of dark honey hair, though she maintains, “You can shave my head…and I’ll still walk around here like I’m a goddess.”
Cassie is actually a bit disappointed they did not give her a more drastic change, although she does say her “two tracks of fake hair” do make her head heavier and her hair more full. Norelle freaks a bit once they start taking a razor to her hair, however, I personally dig her new ‘do. Ann’s…not so much. Just when her look was really starting to grow on me, they dyed her a blonde that really washes her out her features and doesn’t even flatter her skin tone. In her before and after pictures, I really prefer her before, and don’t blame her for crying as she does when she sees her results. Even Yaya sheds a tear. Cassie derides the other girls for crying over their hair. Why, Cassie? Because it’s just so shallow, especially when there are more important things to be concerned about, like your weight, your weight, or your weight?
Eva feels better about her makeover once it’s over, and judging from her before and after pics, I do think the style is more Cosmopolitan and less “Cosmo Kramer.” Now, her new haircolor really seems to enhance her skin tone and makes her eyes pop. Julie looks virtually unchanged, which Ann sees as an indication that she “might only have one look.” Julie chooses to see it differently, as a sign that “this is how I should be looking.”
Yaya and Norelle are dismissed in the middle of their makeovers for their respective appointments. Yaya is so jazzed to see a “real dermatologist” for the first time, as am I (as far as I’m concerned the only thing that keeping Yaya from being absolutely perfect is her complexion, which close-ups reveal as truly troubled). She gets extractions and then the doctor applies a strange, smoking Q-tip to her face. She is also given some products to use; sorry, ANTM probably doesn’t have a contract with whatever product Dr. Jaliman prescribed, so I can’t tell you what they are—however, I can tell you, again and again, about the [product placement]CoverGirl[/product placement] cosmetics Jay uses to show Yaya how to cover up her blemishes. Yaya turns out looking fantastic post-makeover. Norelle finally gets the metal out of her mouth after having had them in for two years, and is so thrilled, she does a little happy dance. On the car ride back to the salon, she can’t help but stare at her teeth in a mirror—that’s exactly what I would be doing too. With her great, straight white chompers finally set free, and chic, edgy new ‘do, she also can’t stop smiling. She definitely looks more like a real model now.
Jennipher is not as pleased with her results. “I used to look in the mirror and see long, gorgeous locks; dark, of course. And I am not too hip on blondes, and now I’m gonna be a blonde” she says. Again, as with Ann, I think the blonde on Jennipher washes her features out and makes her look generic. Kelle, as much as I dislike her based on last week’s episode, really does look sexy with her long, luxurious weave; “I could definitely work this,” she says, sweeping it up on her head.
No one’s makeover is more dramatic than Amanda’s, however, and not just for its more apparent results. “I think that my transformation, outwardly, really did start a transformation on the inside,” Amanda herself admits. On the outside, Amanda has been transformed into Legolas Greenleaf, but on the inside, she has unleashed her inner diva—and all the girls can sense it in the way she’s starting to strut around the salon and emote to herself in the mirror. The “icy blonde” also seemed to freeze over the maternal warmth in her personality, and Amanda herself says, “The first time I saw myself in the mirror, I just felt sexier and more powerful…I think the other girls are starting to get intimidated by me, and it’s really making me feel good as hell.” Perhaps I was a tad bit hasty in declaring earlier that Eva was the evil one—in fact, Eva’s turned out to be fairly benign, just blunt about telling it like it is. Is Amanda a “jawulf” in hippy, lovin’ mama-sheep’s clothing?
12,000 Maniacs (Okay, Just 12)
After a grueling day of makeovers, the girls go out to dinner at Pescatore. Cassie, whom Julie dubs a “Diet Coke freak,” orders just that: a Diet Coke and little else. It seems the other girls might be starting to suspect something about Cassie’s eating habits, or lack thereof. “Are you not eating anything, Cassie?” someone asks at the table. “I’m starving myself now,” Cassie quips. Eva gives her a look like Cassie just said she ran over her grandma with a car. “I’m just playing with you, Eva. Get the face off.” When the food arrives, Amanda observes that Cassie does not eat very much, and we see tape of Cassie giving away food from her plate and also claiming she has not eaten a potato since she was a “baby.” Yaya, designated voice-of-reason, says, “People started to open their eyes, like ‘Oh yeah, she does kinda not eat.”
The next morning, Amanda (whose artificial, lemon-yellow dye job is already starting to bug) reads the latest delightful TyraMail couplet: “Wash up, eat up, no make-up, hurry up, and oh pack up. Models never know when they have to turn the heat up.” They are brought to Chola—no, not as in Mi Vida Loca-type cholas, as I had thought (too bad, I had envisioned cool, new makeovers with heavy eye-makeup, teardrop tattoos and dark lipstick). In fact, it’s an Indian restaurant, where Jay, clad in an oyster-colored, glitter-collared tuxedo jacket over his smooth, bare chest (whatever happened to “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Business”?) awaits them with a special guest: the elegantly pretty [product placement]CoverGirl[/product placement], Kiara Kabukuru. She talks about her experience as a CG, saying it really elevated her status to the point where people would walk up to her and say, “Easy, breezy, beautiful CoverGirl.” That would drive me murderously insane. Julie asks Kiara as a “woman of ethnicity” (um, doesn’t everyone have an “ethnicity,” perhaps she means to use the term, “woman of color”) if she feels she has a lot of competition in the modeling field. Kiara says that the industry is just competitive in general, and “these days, it’s not even really about race, it could be a blonde girl against a black girl for a contract.”
Jay tells them that today they will be tested on how much they remember of yesterday’s makeup lesson; the prize for this challenge is admittance to a fabu industry party, along with Jay and Kiara, to meet and greet “influential and beautiful people.” The catch? They will have to get ready for the party inside a limousine, with only ten minutes to get dressed and do their own hair and makeup. Jay claims this is a very realistic situation, and Kiara agrees, saying she herself has done this before. Please, I’m not impressed! In L.A., we girls do this too, and drive the car at the same time. Who will back me up on this one?
They go outside to the limo, which Jay informs them is equipped with all the cosmetics they used the day before. He counts down, 3-2-1, and at “Go,” the interior of the limo is a maelstrom of limbs, hair, and underwear (if the driver was straight, I don’t know how he managed not to crash the car—God knows I’d take a peek). Jennipher describes it accurately by saying, “It looked like a bunch of maniacs.” Hot, undressed female maniacs, that is. And I’m sorry to be the one to point out the obvious, but OH MY LORD TOCCARA’S MAMMARIES ARE MAMMOTH! I thought for a second, maybe someone had deployed the airbags in there, but no, those were all woman.
The limo drops the passel of post-haste pretties off at the showroom of designer Anand Jon, where Jay and Kiara scrutinize the girls before declaring who will be the lucky winner. They choose Norelle, for her ability to cover up evenly, yet maintain a natural look, and she is told to select three other girls to accompany her at tonight’s par-tay. She picks her roommates: Ann, Eva, and Kristopher. As they are told the four of them will be wearing original Anand Jon creations, the designer himself pops in. Julie perks up at the sight, and tells us she thought to herself, “You’re Indian, I’m Indian. You’re in this business, I’m trying to break into this business too.” Finally, the rest of the girls are told what they will be wearing for the night. As Cassie explains, “Our loser prize was to be a server for the night and wear this horrible polyester suit that was hot, with a bow tie and everything.” This too, is a realistic scenario, preparing many a would-be model for another duty they may face in the big city: waitressing. Gotta pay that rent somehow, CoverGirl!
The girls all change into their respective outfits, and we follow The Fortunate Four as they mingle with the beautiful people at the party. Anand proposes a toast, “May the best woman win,” then Norelle proposes one of her own, “Cheers that we’re not serving food.” Even Eva looks shocked by the kitty-catty dig, but laughs along with everyone else. Looks like sweet, little Norelle has crossed over to the dark side! Jump-cut to Miss Gucci Pants, Kelle, dropping and breaking a glass in the kitchen. Perhaps she’s never had to handle her own crystal before, in her gated community. Cassie, seen seeking a Diet Coke in the kitchen area, bemoans the fact`that, “In Oklahoma, people look at me, and I don’t feel like people are looking at me here. I’m not having that much fun.” Maybe a stage and a pole would help her feel more at home. Hey, just trying to find ways to accommodate, because that’s me, I’m a giver.
Anand tells the girls he’s “100% Indian,” and they tell him about Julie. “You have to hear her speak like her mother. It’s amazing,” they say, and call her over to join them. She indulges them with an impression of her mom, like an Indian Dat Phan. She tells us, in an interview that she is “setting goals” for Indians. “They’re either engineers, doctors, but we can go outside of that, we can use our intelligence in this industry,” Julie insists. Snickers, it’s not just a candy bar, it’s an appropriate response to this latest gem of ANTM profundity. Julie further gets her ethnic on by joining the belly dancer on the dance floor. Yaya is impressed because “it’s nice to see someone proud about where they come from.”
Once the party is over, the girls head home, where TyraMail tells them it’s time for their “close-up” to see “whose beauty is true.” Yaya is still nervous about her “bumpy face,” and we see her practice applying makeup. Amanda is also up, brushing her long, blonde, Malibu Barbie hair and staring at herself in the mirror with eerie intensity. She says, “I think the girls seeing my boost of confidence, starting seeing me less as a safe person to be around, and more like actual competition.”
The next morning, the girls meet Mr. Jay at the studio, where he tells them beauty “really does come from the inside out,” and today they will be posing for beauty shots, “which are really the most difficult photos to do.” To further add to the difficulty, Jay says, they will be working with a “clean face,” meaning no makeup whatsoever, “uptight, close, and personal.” Naturally, poor Yaya panics, citing her “insecurity” in this area, and confessing that she feels “this test is a personal attack against Yaya.”
Moby look-alike (Foby? Faux-be?) Troy Ward will be their photographer today, and he says that today’s shoot “will be really just you, there’s nowhere to run and hide.” Jay states how important skin is on a model and mentions how, in particular, the skin on the hands can show age, a clunky segue to the [product placement]Nivea[/product placement] hand cream they will be “modeling” today. So the makeup comes off and the hand cream comes on. Danilo asks Amanda how it felt waking up with her new blonde mane this morning, “Have you been possessed by the previous owner?” This seems as good an explanation as any for her bizarre new behavior.
They shoot the photos, and Troy cites Kristi as “the most limited of all the girls.” Yaya says while she is used to not wearing makeup, she’s not used to doing it in front of cameras—to be fair, who is? Although nervous initially, after getting her hair done, and “preparing [her]self mentally, spiritually” she still worked it for the camera. Jay named her “a trooper” for having gone out there, “in front of the camera with no makeup on, and said, this is my skin but I’m gonna be beautiful.”
Other notable photo shoot moments include: Nicole’s attempt to appear in the midst of sex; Jay looking somewhat disgusted during Julie’s shoot, Julie saying she did not feel like she “connected well with the camera”; Kelle unable to deliver more than one expression; Amanda going on and on about her new “confidence boost” and how she “worked it” and my last nerve.
During the shoot, Cassie confesses to Amanda that “I don’t want to get disqualified because I have an eating disorder…That’s ok.” “No, it’s not,” Amanda says, with an odd laugh, not acting particularly as cuddly, warm mama as before. Cassie expressly says, “So just don’t let it go around.” Let’s stop and consider this again, Cassie specifically asks Amanda for discretion with this very personal info. After this, Jennipher says, “Amanda told somebody, then next thing you know, everybody knows, of course.”
The news spreads like wildfire at the shoot, and everyone is weighing in with their opinion, from Toccara (“It’s a disorder, so it’s not fine.”) to Norelle (“I think it’s going to eat her alive, because that’s such a huge secret.”). Here’s the part where I actually feel bad for Cassie, who took a chance on sharing something very intimate with someone else who didn’t even offer help or consolation, but instead blabbed it to the rest of the world. And while I don’t condone keeping eating disorders a secret, there has to have been a better way to handle this, plus I don’t buy that Amanda telling the other girls at the shoot was a way of helping. During their discussions, none of the girls approached Cassie with concern either, they just shook their heads and made their judgments, sometimes just a few feet away, without once going directly to her.
I didn’t even see a single hug for the poor girl, instead, she was being followed by suspicion and scrutiny. Leaving the bathroom, she tells everyone, “Don’t go in there, I felt very sick to my stomach.” “Smells? Like puke?” Ann asks Jennipher, who responds, “She was in there for like, forty minutes.” Cassie can tell they’re all starting to talk, and she regrets having ever “opened up to anyone” and adds that she believes they’re exaggerating the situation to make her look bad. She’s clearly in denial of her “will to be skinny” and obviously needs help for her eating disorder, but her feelings about how the girls reacted to this news is understandable. It’s an ugly situation all-around.
Cassie goes on to do a good job with the shoot, regardless. Jay compliments her by saying he can’t tell that she is insecure at all, and he mentions that Cassie has a need for validation, but the second she gets it, “she really becomes a model.” Meanwhile, the drama continues. Eva remarks “Amanda is a complete ass for telling Cassie’s secret. She plays this role that she’s a sweet, nurturing mother. If someone decides to confide in you, why not let that be between you and that person.” In her own defense, Amanda says, “What the hell is Cassie thinking, saying it to me if she didn’t want anyone to know and she didn’t want help for it?”
Back at home, while everyone else is eating, Cassie stumbles into the room in her underwear babbling in a barely coherent fashion: “If you haven’t come to me about what everyone’s saying about…the past problems that I’ve had with eating…then it’s not an issue now, it’s not a problem here…so if you all think I’m throwing up or something here, that’s not the case…I don’t consider myself bulimic because I don’t throw up after everything I eat.” Um, not the way to do spin control. She adds, “I can’t even remember the last time I threw up.” What the bloody hell happened this afternoon in the bathroom at the photo shoot, Leonard Shelby?
Even though Cassie asks that everyone stop talking this, they, of course, persist. Ann is particularly troubled about the health issues; Eva, however, is more disturbed by what she sees as a betrayal on Amanda’s part. Eva thinks “Amanda just wanted someone else out of the running, because she’s intimidated by Cassie, ‘cuz Cassie’s beautiful.” Meanwhile, in the phone room, Amanda makes a tearful call to her mother, asking her mom, “Tell me I’m a good person.” She confesses to having done “something wrong…I shouldn’t have.” She admits it wasn’t her place to blow Cassie’s secret wide open, and she’s worried now that she will be perceived as the “evil person” and “everybody thinks I’m a backstabber.”
Honesty: Not Always the Best Policy
TyraMail announces yet another elimination. Nicole gleefully says, “I’m excited, actually, for eliminations. I’m going, let’s get some these bitches out of here.” There is much speculation over who will get the boot. Eva believes, as I do, that Cassie will definitely be eliminated if word of her eating disorder reaches Tyra.
The girls gather before the judges, which include the usual suspects, such as the increasingly younger looking Janice D. (at the rate she’s going back in time, the next time we see her, she’ll be a fetus), a fairly quiet Nigel Barker, the faaabulous Nolé Marin and Empress Minnie, and special guest judge, stylist and fourth Musketeer, Danilo.
Jay appears to administer the girls’ test: on each of their beds lies a pack of [product placement]CoverGirl[/product placement] makeup with which they are to apply to half of their face, a natural daytime look, and to the other half, a nighttime diva look. The girls are sent off and for another frantic makeup session before reappearing in front of the judges for evals. Another component of evaluation this week is, of course, the beauty shot. They will show the photo before and after retouching, to see how much of it they need, and Tyra explains that retouching is very expensive, and clients “don’t want to pay tons of money” to re-touch the photos of the models they hire.
Kristi gets kudos from Nolé for the new bangs, although Janice calls her “Cousin It.” Her photo inspires only yawns, and then reactions of horror to the un-retouched version (it is, for some reason, incredibly satisfying to see the pictures before retouching, if just to remind us that even models have pimples, bags under their eyes, and pores). Eva’s makeup doesn’t get much response, but her photo is mostly well-received, save for Janice’s opinion that the “artificial nail” looks “very hooker.” Un-retouched, however, Eva’s photo looks like she was abused, with the dark rings around her eyes. Cassie’s picture is declared “perfect,” well, except for Nigel and Nolé who think her hand “looks like an old lady’s.” When they show the un-retouched version, however, they all agree that it’s very good; hard-to-please Janice even declares it, “better than the retouched picture.”
Jennipher’s photo proves lackluster, and Janice says, “What’s killing us is that you have what it takes, and you’re not bringing it.” Amanda comes up and Tyra nails a perfect description: “Annie Lennox meets Darryl Hanna from Splash.” Her makeup is too heavy on both sides, but they unanimously her picture (“cover of Danish Vogue” says Janice) and are so impressed at how very little retouching it required that they applaud her. Next is Nicole; Nigel and Danilo love the new haircolor, and Janice is “wowed” by the confidence in her beauty shot. She also require very little in the retouching department. Toccara’s pic is deemed “gorgeous” by Tyra, Danilo observes that she is a “natural” at posing; when it comes to the pre-retouch, Janice says Toccara’s skin is still “fine as honey.” Norelle shows off her new, braceless chompers, and the judges all prefer her post-makeover. Her makeup gets high marks, with Tyra saying the evening side reminded her of “Winona Ryder on the red carpet.” While I like her beauty shot, the only comment we see is Danilo saying there is too much hand in the picture. Her un-retouched pic compels Janice to scream “Help!” and “I need blinders.” Then, Ann is roundly criticized for not making the most of her fine features.
Julie gets hit from all sides. They don’t like the way she did her hair, makeup, or clothing today. Nor do they like her photo, which is seen as “pedestrian.” By the time Janice asks, “I want to know why you want to be a model,” she seems to break down under the criticism of the judges. “Honestly, it’s for me to get into this industry and learn more about it, so I can start my own apparel manufacturing company. I never had that, like, model confidence.” Kiss. Of. Death.
Yaya’s photo is well-regarded. It earns a “lookin’ good, girlfriend,” from Janice, and high marks from Tyra who is pleased to see that Yaya can look “soft” and “innocent.” Not surprisingly, after seeing the un-retouched photo, Nigel says she must work on her skin. “Drink more water,” Nigel advises, “Water, water, water.” Are they being sponsored by the Water Commission now or something? Kelle is last up, and while the judge like her new hair, they aren’t too keen on her makeup, which is too light for her dark skin tone. Her picture is seen as “bland” and looking like “a deer caught in headlights.” Janice has fun flipping back and forth between the retouched and un-retouched photos, likening it to a “Hitchcock movie.” Kelle gets extremely defensive, talks about how people “usually tell me I have very beautiful skin” and then implies that, basically, they did not pick her best photo from the shoot. “Don’t try to place the blame on someone else,” Tyra chides her, and Nigel tells her she should take the criticism they give her and use it constructively.
The judges deliberate; they were immensely turned off by Julie’s comments about the industry, Kelle’s self-aggrandizing recriminations, and, oddly, Norelle’s resemblance to a “parakeet.” Janice reminds them of her negative stance on plus-size models in couture, but even with her feelings as they are on this issue, she still prefers Toccara to Kelle.
It’s time to hand back photos to the continuing girls. They are given (in order) to: Amanda, Nicole, Eva, Yaya, Toccara, Jennipher, Cassie, Norelle, Ann, and Kristi. The bottom two this week are, not surprisingly, Julie and Kelle. Tyra gives the requisite, self-righteous speeches on how disappointed she is with them, addressing Kelle’s “playing the blame game” instead of saying “I can do better” and Julie’s idiotic admission that she is doing the show to further her career in fashion manufacturing.
No suspense with this, though, folks. Kelle gets the photo, and squeaks desperately, “I can do better.” Julie unceremoniously clomps out, and says that she thought she would go farther but “the truth came out” about modeling not being her ultimate dream. “It’s the first time in my life I’m really honest about something, and I blow it here,” Julie says, teary eyed, “I’m just sad that it’s over.” Sure it’s probably better that Julie’s elimination will make room for the girls who have a stronger desire to be Top Model; still, that was one of the most phenomenally stupid examples of self-sabotage ever seen on this show.
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