So the much buzzed-about America's Next Top Model season of the shorties is almost upon us, but after seeing the press release with the bios and photos of these vertically challenged girls, we think that "short" might be a bit of an overstatement. Sure, they aren't traditional runway height, but the smallest girl measures up at 5'3", which is at the taller end of the petite spectrum in most retail stores. And that's not the only thing that has me worried about Cycle 13: between the absence of judge Paulina Porizkova, a revolving door of guest judges and Tyra's ever-expanding ego, this season could be the biggest letdown yet.
Let's start with the new crop of girls. Looking over the photos of the 14 new wannabes, there are only maybe three who actually look short. They may range from 5' 3" to 5' 7", but they all seem to have freakishly long legs. That, combined with the tallest high heels available and a photographer who is a fan of shooting them from below, makes them all appear much longer than they in actually are. Oh, and naturally, most of them have super-lanky body types with ultra-skintight pants on, accentuating the elongation effect. So this season doesn't seem to be so much about short girls as it does about making smaller girls look like they are truly Amazonian in stature.
At the end of last season, permanent judge Paulina Porizkova was fired, ostensibly because they needed to trim down the panel and because she (allegedly) had an ego problem. But she was by far my favorite judge, handily offering some actual modeling tips and candidly expressing opinions on photos, telling girls in a no-nonsense way that they looked too dead, or whatever. And her comments made sense, unlike some people (Miss J, I'm looking at you). Without her, I'm more inclined than normal to skip the panel of "experts" altogether and just find out who they decided to eliminate.
Instead of replacing Paulina's seat permanently (since they were supposedly trimming down) they're going with a rotating guest judge for each episode. Most of the names seem to be models (and even a few who have had success in the petite modeling world), but for every Josie Maran, there's a reality "star" who doesn't belong there. Lauren Conrad (of The Hills) and Kim Kardashian (of Keeping Up With the Kardashians) will be offering their expert opinions on... something. They were clearly brought on for their claims to fame rather than their knowledge of the inner workings of the modeling industry. At least Posh guesting on Idol makes sense, since she did get her start in pop music. But Kardashian showing off her derriere and Conrad liking to look at clothes isn't exactly the same thing.
I can already hear Tyra speechifying about how she has single-handedly revived the world of petite modeling by giving these girls a chance when no one else in the world would have ever looked twice at a gorgeous, leggy girl who is under 5' 7". No one! With guest judges likely being too afraid to disagree with her, and with Miss J and Nigel Barker just around to kiss her butt, there will be no one to take her ego down a peg when she's completely wrong. Someone needs to keep Tyra in check (even if it is her own show) and without someone like Paulina or Janice Dickinson around to talk back to her, I fear for the worst.
While I'm all for beautiful girls of all shapes and sizes getting recognition, its not like any of these girls are just average. They may not fit the traditional modeling standard, but they're all still knockouts. So, all in all, it's not sounding like a particularly promising cycle. But don't get me wrong: I'll probably still watch every episode - if only to be able to mock it as fiercely as possible.
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