Yes, folks, it’s that time of year again. The time when short, thin girls get to pretend they’re tall, skinny “models in training.” The time when Tyra Banks decides to suck up yet another hour of television. The time when I make fun of her UPN reality show while also unable to turn away whenever it’s on.
So as Cycle 6 approaches (why are they called “cycles” anyway? All I associate with that is menstrual cycles … not exactly glamorous fashion), let’s take a look back at America’s Next Top Model‘s long history of unquantifiable contributions to American culture. And by “unquantifiable contributions to American culture,” I mean “shoving naive, unprepared young women out into the cold, sharp jaws of the fashion world, never to be heard from again.” There are five previous winners, each with their own special combination of blind ambition and poreless skin.
1) Adrienne Curry, Cycle 1 – “Crazy Model.” As she climbed her way to the top of the cycle one heap, Adrienne came off more “white-trash tomboy” than actually crazy. Rather than, you know, do some modelling, Adrienne signed up for VH1′s The Surreal Life, where her true, mentally unhinged nature was revealed. She latched hoof and claw on to Christopher Knight (a.k.a. “Peter Brady”), a man 25 years her senior, despite his constant protests (a restraining order wouldn’t have stopped her). Whatever she did, it worked, and Adrienne undoubtedly made “Momma” Tyra even more proud when she decided to let VH1 document their romance on My Fair Brady. Selling her first-born child to the gods of VH1 in exchange for more cash, Adrianne will soon fart her way through another season of the show where they document their wedding plans. Keeping her modelling dream alive, you can currently see her in the February 2006 Playboy (seriously).
2) Yoanna House, Cycle 2 – “Model Model.” Tall, skinny, with a disgustingly symmetrical face, Yoanna is actually the most “model” out of any winner so far. She has also kicked off the trend of throwing a bunch of vowels together and calling it a name (I’m waiting for a future cycle to give us “Oaeiouia” or something. You know it’s going to happen). Yoanna was actually enjoying herself as an up-and-coming, successful catwalk model before signing on as a host for the Style Network, thereby increasing her exposure to all of the two people who watch that channel (one being Boy George, the other being Star Jones’ husband, together, in pajamas). You can currently see her on the “Style Network” (if that is indeed a real network).
3) Eva Pigford, Cycle 3 – “Mini-Model.” Girl is short. At 5’7″, she’s the shortest winner of the show yet (although no shorter than Kate Moss, if you really believe Eva is actually 5’7″). With a nose described as “piggish” and an attitude to match (she was nicknamed “Eva the Diva”), Eva strutted her way through the third season — oh, sorry, the third cycle…oh, fuck it, the third season — until she was the last one standing. Maybe Tyra couldn’t see her from behind her judges’ table during eliminations, and Eva just kept showing up until all the other girls had been kicked out. She did guest star on the cancelled UPN Taye Diggs drama, Kevin Hill. You can currently see her in your front pocket.
4) Naima Mora, Cycle 4 – “Coma Model.” OK, during season four, I was a full-out fan of Naima. Sure, she was quiet, but she was spunky and weird and said things that were just the right combination of dorky and unironic (she styled her hair into a mohawk to “center” herself) that I couldn’t help but root for her. Since she won, she appeared on Tyra Banks’ talk show to discuss problems she had with her twin sister (as if being in the shadow of a Top Model wasn’t bad enough for her sister. Geez, real nice, Naima) and … not much else. She did do some commercials that were only aired during Top Model where she signed autographs for her fans in … Walgreens. You can currently see her on reruns of America’s Next Top Model.
5) Nicole Linkletter, Cycle 5 – “Dairy Queen Model.” Looking and acting like the influence for Parker Posey’s character in Waiting for Guffman, Nicole might be the prettiest Miss Grand Forks, North Dakota that ever sat on a parade float. After being picked as the winner, Tyra declared that Nicole was chosen because she was “pure model,” which brings into question what the hell they were looking for the previous seasons. Supporting Tyra’s claim, Nicole will allegedly be featured in an upcoming couture spread in Elle. Holy crap! That’s a real modelling gig! You can currently see her at the local community college where she’s learning to spell the word “couture.”
Who will be the winner of Cycle 6? Does it even matter? Don’t we watch for the catfights, the tears, and the bitchy confessionals (note to contestants: you’re being recorded)? If we want to watch them actually model, we can just sneak into the V.I.P.-only crowd at the Walmart Fashion Show. Yes, I’m dead serious. Not only does Walmart have a fashion show, it was populated by the “models” from the first four seasons. Momma Tyra must be proud.