‘America’s Next Top Model’: Mind over splatter

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This week on “America’s Next Top Model,” Tyra forced the contestants to face some pretty common phobias: the fear of heights, the fear of drowning and, as I’ve observed from many of my gal pals, the fear of wearing bikinis.

Every week, I pay special attention to the dynamics among the contestants. The “Top Model” cameras wouldn’t be in the house if there wasn’t something we could learn about how much personal issues can seep into our professional lives. This week was especially telling. With all the other mean girls eliminated, Sundai has become “Ms. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde.” She has resolved herself to being friendly while she’s around the other girls, but once she’s in her solo interview, she trash-talks a storm. Of course, we all know this kind of hate stems from insecurity. Judging from her life bouncing around in orphanages, we can understand why she refuses to open up with the other girls when they show genuine interest in her history. Her inability to adapt will definitely affect her while modeling.

Erin, the last of the “mean girls” left in the house, has been in the bottom two at judges’ panel for two weeks in a row now. Instead of listening to the judges’ feedback on how she needs to push harder in the photo challenges, she dwells on the idea that she’s their “golden child.” Has this kitten used up her nine lives?

In their modeling lesson this week, Victoria’s Secret angel and almost “petite” model (at 5 feet 8 ) Marisa Miller gave the contestants tips on how to model swimsuits. I’m not quite sure how necessary this was for our contestants. After all, none of them fill a bikini like Miller does, and I’m not sure any of them would be cast to model swimsuits any time soon. Regardless, it was amusing to watch the contestants work what their momma gave them. It got a little uncomfortable when Marisa had the girls roll around in the sand, then pose while washing it off. When Erin got onto her knees under the shower, I thought two things. First, I thought, “Girl, nobody showers like that. Get up!” Second, I wondered just how uncomfortable her parents must be at the moment. I was waiting for Miller to stop the madness. Instead, she encouraged it. I guess that’s how models wash off sand from the beach. Go figure.
Afterward, the gals met up with Miller and judge Nigel Barker for the first photo competition. ...


We’re seeing a lot of Nigel outside the judging room this season. I’m guessing the recession has something to do with it. Why would Tyra fly another person out to Hawaii when Nigel has nothing better to do, right? Yes, Ms. Tyra.

In the competition, the ladies were given one shot at modeling while jumping off a rocky cliff into the water below. Of course in their fear of uncertain death, they forgot everything Marisa had just taught them. Nicole was the exception, though. She took a risk by turning her profile to the camera while jumping. It paid off and she won a pearl necklace and four more frames during the elimination shoot. She was able to share the extra frames with three girls. Erin was the only one who wasn’t picked, so she would have the disadvantage of having no extra chances in the final photo shoot. How did she handle it? She hoped that the others would fail and that the judges would give her extra credit for not having the extra frames. She is their “golden child” after all.

In the final photo challenge, Jay Manuel informed the girls that they would be modeling underwater. This would become a major challenge for Laura and Sundai. Laura can’t swim and has an intense fear of suffocating. At first, she can’t keep her fear at bay and begins to hyperventilate, swallowing water in the process. Despite that, she’s able to calm herself enough to get in some pretty pictures. Sundai has asthma and believes she won’t be able to hold her breath long enough to do the shoot. Instead of gaining back her control like Laura, Sundai makes a bunch of excuses about swallowing water, having back pains and not being able to go deep underwater for fear her asthma acts up. Erin, though, just won’t go deeper and models near the water’s surface. She has no reason for doing so and she doesn’t have the advantage of the extra frames like the other women so that she can rectify the situation. Her only hope is that one of the other girls did worse than her.

Miller joins the show again as part of the judging panel. Nicole, who definitely has her “bloody eye” on the prize, ends up being edged out by Jennifer for the win. In this case it came down to whose leg positioning was less awkward, because both seemed to be modeling from the waist up, instead of from the feet up as Tyra so often likes to remind us.

Not surprising, Erin and Sundai make up the bottom two. In a pretty striking decision, since it was Erin’s third time in line for elimination in three weeks, Sundai was sent home for making so many excuses and her inability to adapt to the watery shoot.

Is there something to Erin’s “golden child” theory? Because although I’m not going to miss trash-talking Sundai, I definitely thought it was time to let Erin go.

-- Jethro Nededog (Follow me on Twitter @TheRealJethro)

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