Being a Top Model fan from the inception of the America’s Next Top Model (ANTM) franchise in 2003, until it began to lose it’s appeal before even reaching season 16 in 2011, knowing that there’s a Caribbean version of the show out here is enough to make a girl giddy. It was amazing to see model hopefuls vie for a challenging but rewarding career as a fashion model, blessed by the hands of supermodel Trya Banks herself. The franchise itself has made way for more than 40 international spinoffs including Caribbean’s Next Top Model, hosted by former Miss Universe Wendy Fitzwilliam.
Excitement ensued when I had the opportunity to partner with the show to blog about the exciting journey of 17 young ladies as they journey to the Top. We expected to see the show mimic the business of fashion modeling like ANTM – in the early days – with a lot of Caribbean spice. After all, most of the best looking women do come from the Caribbean. Through a bit of miscommunication on my part, I missed the season premiere last week, and the 2-part episode is not online for replays. However, 5 of the 17 contestants were sent home last week kicking off the competition with a tight 12.
This week was about Athleticism. Within the first 5 mins of episode 3, the girls met Wendy at Grenada’s National Stadium where she introduced the contestants to veteran NFL player Quentin Groves, who charmingly put the girls through their first challenge which consisted of a few ringers on the football field to see the competitive side of the models. They were judged on “competitiveness, spirit and overall times.” An awkward but entertaining challenge, the girls were visibly out of their element but powered through till the end. The challenge winners, Tonisha (Barbados) and Lynah (Dominica) tied to receive an exclusive dinner at The Aquarium Restaurant with Groves and Fitzwilliam, but they didn’t seem to be having much fun as they listened to Wendy give tips on modeling.
The awesome 12 then had to shoot an athletic campaign for Flow with photographer Terrell Moore. Models were given Flow tees and asked to customize them into something sexy for the shoot where the challenge was to channel cheerleaders and gritty athletes under Moore’s direction. The girls were clearly green in this department, but Chenice (JA) really brought the energy and look needed for a sporting brand ad. In the end, her shot was extremely magazine worthy. Her poise and ease made her seem like this was a natural element for her and the judges agreed.
Chenise was certainly the star of this campaign
During the elimination process however, Samantha (T&T), whose shot encapsulated a happy cheerleader, was told she needed to “lose a little weight” by judge Socrates McKinney because she had a little belly showing. McKinney’s comment was appalling and uncalled for given this model was in no way fat, and he needs to be called out immediately. Hashtag #healthymodels. Given the issues models are currently combating in the industry, and the worldwide call for healthier looking models, McKinney should in no way degrade an aspiring model in this manner, mentally scaring her by attacking her body image which is standard sizing at the moment. This is not an appropriate foundation to set the tone for our young girls. Especially knowing that something as minute as a “little belly fat” could be retouched in an editorial photo. Samantha was visibly hurt, and even though she was commended heavily by Groves after that gut punch (no pun intended) for her tenacity in the race, it can be seen on her face that the weight comment still stinged. In the end, 2 more girls – Zahada (Grenada) and Sashawna (JA) – were sent home.
Overall, the show production is suffering with its poor audio. Additionally, the format should be edited to capture more of the girls’ thoughts and aspirations to thoroughly experience their journey. Eager to see what’s in store for next week though!
Gabrielle Minors (Grenada)
Nyierah Placide (St. Lucia)
Karen Rampersad (T&T)
Nina Victor (St. Maarten)
Altena Wilson (JA)
Zahada Micarla (Grenada)
Sashawna Flake (JA)
Images provided by Caribbean’s Next Top Model
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