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Tyra Banks is the Mistress of Babble. She’s usurped the word “fierce” from drag queens and publicly abused it to the point that it’s been emptied of all meaning and packs the same linguistic punch as clearing one’s throat. Her biggest contribution to the English language, “smizing,” or “smiling with your eyes,” is a made-up modeling term that’s also a paradox, something she’s defined in the past as “squinting with your eyes open” (and something that I happen to really suck at).
Her crazy talk extends beyond modeling to the “social” ideas she explores on both her talk show and America’s Next Top Model. Remember when she put on a fat suit for a day to understand what it was like to be the victim of what she called the “last form of open discrimination that’s okay”? Or when she had the Cycle 10 ANTM contestants “do” homeless, posing with real-life homeless youth, and told the models she understood what it was like to live on the streets because she (again) did it for a day on her talk show?
Filed under: America's Next Top Model, America's Next Top Model Cycle 13, ANTM, Blackface, Essentialism Is So Fun, Paradoxes, Portraying Races, Racial Drag, Smiling With Your Eyes, Smizing, The Tyra Banks Show, Tyra Banks
America’s Next Top Model Cycle 13, aka The Short Girls season, premieres tonight. You’d think that in a season in which none of the contestants stand over 5’7″, the show would be crawling with eensy-beensy Asian chicks, but Cycle 13 has, like so many other cycles before it, only one token, and her name is Jennifer An.
She’s 23, hails from Philly, and her special qualities–judging by her interview below–include doing musical theater badly and pooping a lot:
Is this a sign of things to come? I can’t say for sure, but maybe we’d all be better off spending our Wednesday nights doing something more productive than watching Cycle 13, like cleaning our toilets, which is admittedly filthy work but probably still less shitty.
Listen up, Moonfaces. If you, like me, always have to, as Tyra would say, “know your angles” in photographs (i.e. never ever give full-frontal mug), and your face tends to resemble a jelly donut when you have a hangover, are retaining water, didn’t get enough sleep, didn’t have time to put on make-up, or have packed on a couple pounds, there is a Japanese beauty product for you. It’s called the Face Slimmer and looks like the bastard offspring of an alien life-form who came to Earth and raped a hockey mask.
The Frisky reports on how the Face Slimmer works:
First, it melts the fat off your face by massaging your facial dermis…Then, the sweat produced from the poorly-ventilated mask combined with the sweat from your chubby cheeks acts as a sauna.
Which sounds hella dubious, but think of it this way: if the thing doesn’t work, you can always use it to scare the bejeezus out of your annoying neighbors.
America’s Next Top Model Cycle 12 starts tonight, and we’ll be watching even though it doesn’t appear there are any Asian sistas on the show this season, which is weird, since the fashion world is supposedly embracing more of our peeps. (I was holding out hopes for “Fo”–did someone say noodles?–until I watched her audition tape.) But we all know ANTM isn’t about fashion or diversity, it’s about hissy fits, drrrama, and smiling with your eyes.
At least the promo images for the show have the contestants looking like us. And when I say “like us” I mean they’re in full geisha maquillage, an orgy of origami flying all over the place.
Alas, alack, we’ll have to wait ’til next year for an Asian-American Top Model. Sheena Sakai was eliminated from ANTM last night after turning in another boring photo, which seemed to be her only way of responding to the judges’ constant criticism that girlfriend was too hoochie. Despite my enthusiasm for Sheena in the beginning, she was starting to work my last nerve, always picking fights in the house and getting on her soapbox, spoken word-style, about things that were really none of her beeswax, like Marjorie’s shyness or Elina’s control issues (both tired subjects, admittedly). She did handle her exit with restraint, however, without tears or drrrrrrama or uttering that horribly cliché but now de rigueur reality TV closing line, “This isn’t the last you’ve seen of (me in the third person).” Okay, she offered up a version of that–”I’m not going to be forgotten”–but then contradicted herself immediately with “and hopefully, I won’t be,” as though she had finally seen the bullshit in her own bluster. Was this a farewell to fakery for Sheena Sakai, i.e. what is she going to do about those boobs? Tits not for me to say, really.
During this horrible economic crisis, deemed our “economic Pearl Harbor” by Warren Buffett, when the Dow drops 700 points in a day and dips below 10,000 for the first time in 4 years, and people are worried about their jobs and their retirements, what we really need in this country is…a bailout plan? Job creation? Change?
No, silly. We need more FABULOSITY. Which explains why E! chose to premiere Kimora Lee Simmons’s E! True Hollywood Story Friday, chock full of sage wisdom for these hard-scrabble times:
“I am probably the queen of opulence. I love my jewelry. I love my diamonds. I love my shoes. I have diamond shoes. Some people might prefer more demure look. I like it all out screaming. I don’t care.” – Kimora Lee Simmons
“In high school she had a Gucci bag or Louis Vuitton bag. We didn’t even know what that was.” – Shani Johnson, childhood friend
“She calls me as soon as Ming came out. I showed up at the hospital and I walk in and Kimora is ordering like gourmet food from Mr. Chows – still freshly had the baby like 10, 15 minutes ago and is ordering high end $500 Chinese food, and I put my order in too.” – Tyra Banks
Don’t despair if you missed the first showing. E! is running Kimora’s THS all this week. Crisis? What crisis?!
For those of you unfamiliar with the makeover episode of America’s Next Top Model, know that it typically brings out tears, and I’m talking Niagara-like lacrimation. When Cycle 11′s aired last week, the person who did the most crying over her new look was Elina Ivanova, a 19 year-old originally from Ukraine, to whom the show inexplicably gave the hair of the creepy, ‘roided-out comic Carrot Top. Elina hated her fiery weave–which was heralded as a first in “Top Model History,” undoubtedly for its aggressive fugginess–but she managed to move past that and win the swimsuit photo shoot in the end anyway.
As a rule, the previous week’s winning shot goes up in the contestants’ house the following week to motivate the other girls. Elina’s photo was shown several times over the course of last night’s episode, with some flattering quotes from the judges captioning it, one of which was “ethnically ambiguous.” Tyra had told the aspiring model the week before that that was how the new hair made Elina look, and she meant it as a compliment.
The phrase “ethnically ambiguous,” however, strikes me as praise of the backhanded variety. Often, it’s really just a gentrified way of saying “not too ethnic.” Or “not too dark.” Or “not too slanty-eyed.” Or “not too flat-nosed.” In August, before New York Fashism Week, a top casting director for the shows told Models.com that one thing the fashion world is embracing right now is precisely that imprecise look:
“Another thing this season is trying to discern from all the girls out there the ones that are ethnically ambiguous. Girls and boys that have faces that you can’t just put in a certain place or race or geography. I think it’s very helpful to see those types of faces in our conflicted world because you can see that we’re still evolving as humans and they are the results of people willing to go beyond the socially constructed notions around race…“
And, you know, he may be onto something, in terms of “socially constructed notions around race,” but what about our socially constructed notions around beauty? Is this latest notion of beauty a reflection of globalization and the world getting smaller or is it spin on an old idea, that “ethnic” faces are beautiful so long as they still conform somewhat to Western standards of beauty (i.e. so long as they still look kinda white). If faces that can’t be put in a certain place, race, or geography are desirable right now, what about faces like mine that most certainly can? Are they yesterday’s news? Are they a bit played? Should I stow my face for a few seasons like all those smock dresses I wore in 2006 until ethnic specificity makes a comeback? This comment about ethnic ambiguity was cited as the second key fall trend; the first was “the tomboy look.” Now it’s easy to go out and get a bowl cut and boyfriend jeans and copy Katie Holmes, but it’s not quite so simple to change your ethnic makeup. And since ethnic ambiguity is considered a “trend,” that means it’s only a matter of time before people tire of it and it will be replaced by something else. What will the “ethnically ambiguous” do then? Make themselves “more ethnic”? Play up the racial drag–kink that hair, chink that make-up? Go into hiding?
I think I have some space for the ethnically ambiguous in the back of my closet when that time comes, somewhere alongside all of my pointy-toed flats, boot-cut jeans, knee-length A-line skirts, those smock dresses that made me look preggo, and that pair of purple McQueen corset boots that would look killer on a pirate moonlighting as a hooker. In the meantime, it’s here in the dark, cluttered recesses of my closet where you’ll find me and my ethnically unambiguous face, as we wait for everything old to become new again.
Filed under: America's Next Top Model, ANTM, Elina Ivanova, Ethnically Ambiguous, Ethnically Unambiguous, Fashism, Mixed People, People as Accessories, Stupid Fashion Trends, Trends, Tyra Banks, Ugly Weaves
Sheena Sakai got busted for having fake TyTys last night on America’s Next Top Model. Paulina Porizkova asked her flat-out (so to speak) if her breasts were fake and Sheena said, “No, Ma’am,” which I imagine made the 43 year-old judge vomit in her pretty mouth because cool chicks married to rockers don’t cotton to being called “Ma’am.” (By the way, have you ever wondered what Paulina and Ric Ocasek talk about, like, over breakfast?) But Sheena had a change of heart and came forward again after all the girls had been addressed by the judges to, as she said, get something “off (her) chest” (around the 5:00 mark):
Which was an incredible set-up for Tyra to then have her Oprah moment and tell Sheena:
“I knew your breasts were not real. But one thing that I feel is absolutely beautiful is that you stepped forward and you said, you know what, I’m gonna tell the truth.“
And that’s when I vomited in my pretty mouth.
PREDICTION: After ANTM Cycle 11 is over, Tyra will have Sheena on The Tyra Banks Show for a Fake-Tits-Are-Baaaaaaaaaad story, we’ll go into the operating room with Sheena as she gets them taken out and Tyra holds her hand, telling her how “brave” she is, how beautiful she is on the inside and out, and how she’s a wonderful example to young girls everywhere.
*sighs and golf-claps*
Filed under: America's Next Top Model, Being Brave, Coming Clean, Fake Tits, Fakies, Golf Claps, Paulina Porizkova, Ric Ocasek, Sheena Sakai, The Truth, The Tyra Banks Show, Tyra Banks, Vomiting In Your Mouth
Duuude. I love Sheena Sakai, the lone Asian-American contestant on America’s Next Top Model Cycle 11, which premiered last night. Even though she does have, as our friend Ty pointed out and this Newsday story seems to imply, a man-face:
And despite the fact that the judges have already compared the native Hawaiian to DISGRASIAN Hall-of-Shamer Kimora and are calling her “Kisheena,” and that she didn’t backhand the dumb sow who told her she had an advantage in the competition because she was the “only Oriental girl” (around the 1:11 mark of this video). Still. Love. Tha. Bitch.
Work it, Sheena.
MAJOR SPOILER ALERT: If you want to know who the finalists will be this season on ANTM, click here.
Filed under: America's Next Top Model, ANTM, Hawaiians, Kimora Lee Simmons, Kisheena, Man-Faces, Reality TV Contestants, Sheena Sakai, Trannies, Tyra Banks, Using the Word Oriental Makes You Sound Like a Dumbass
In the current issue of Harper’s Bazaar, there’s a full fashion editorial featuring Tyra Banks as Michelle Obama. You know, because they have so much in common. Like, they’re black. They’re both on TV a lot. And they’re both…um…let’s see…Michelle went to Princeton and Harvard Law School, while Tyra went to…Columbus University in the movie Higher Learning…and…uh…
Anyway, the preposterousness aside of, say, Tyra in a Harvard sweatshirt reading in bed while holding a pencil to her chin, arrested by her own profound thoughts, the concept is pretty clever, don’t you think? Let’s take a look at other powerful female political figures and their model doppelgangers:
1. Cindy McCain/Helmut Newton Icon Nadja Auermann
2. Condoleezza Rice/18 Year-Old Rising Star Chanel Iman
3. Ruth Bader Ginsburg/Indie Darling Irina Lazareanu
4. Nancy Pelosi/Last of the Supers Christy Turlington
5. Hillary Clinton/Jessica “Marc Jacobs Named a Bag after Me” Stam
We’ll admit– we’ve watched ourselves a whooooooole lot of America’s Next Top Model over the last nine seasons. And yet, we were ready within the minute to jump on the model mogul as soon as we saw her do this in Cycle 9′s eighth episode:
…as she told the remaining six girls in the competition that they would be taking their posing act to China. Good god, haven’t reality producers learned anything from the shark jumper that is Survivor: China? That land is not your gold mine. It is merely a reality recipe for disgrace.
But we didn’t disgrace her just then. We decided to wait and observe the results of the models’ visit in the following episode. Please observe a sampling:
…OH YES, everything you see is true, from the ching-chongy electric score to the staged martial artists’ attack, to the flurry of these one-liner gems:
shopping shopping shopping, like a whole bunch of shopping!”
I felt like we were part of the Jetsons or something!”
Oh god. No more. We think about 30 million of our brain cells just committed ritual suicide out of shame from bearing witness to that drivel. China is foreign! China is crazy! China is filled with little loud people that love rice and do kickflips in pajamas!
Hey, hey, of course we knew that Top Model in China was gonna be bad, we just didn’t know it was also going to be so frickin’ LAME. Though the show’s first encounter with the motherland didn’t anger us like we thought it would, it still gave us the icky tingles all the way through.
And yes, there’s a chance that next week will be far more deserving of the DOTW dishonor, but frankly, we don’t have the stomach to sit through another hour of this crap hunting for it.
Uh, Tyra Banks has clearly not been reading our blog (Bitch!).
Why else would she center one of her talk show episodes around bisexuality, and invite Tila “Drive-Bi” Tequila to the set to elaborate on the finer details of loving both ladies and gents?
It’s hard enough for me to sit through five minutes of that little midget’s awful interview mannerisms: giggling like a chipmunk to punctuate her nonsensical answers, telling bad stories in her rudimentary urban vernacular, LYING about being bisexual, LYING about what it’s like to be in relationships with women, LYING about how she’s still “secretly” dating the winner (is the romance “like a movie” because they’re already in pre-production for A Shot At Love 2?). But I’m used to it, and frankly, her lack of star power makes me sad. She’s guaranteed to fade, and then who will I write about with such venom? I guess there’s always Masi Oka…
But what really gets my goat is that Miss Tyra has the nerve to act like she’s buying Tila’s bullshit. You’ve gotta be kidding me. Tyra is a den mother to outcasts, big girls, and ladies with fucked-up self-images. I can see her wanting to help Tila, not research “sex with men and women” by eating up Tila’s poorly made-up stories.
You wanna hear girl-girl dating stories? I can do it too, watch: When I get down with a girl, I’m all like, yo. She’s so soft. And she’s like strawberries, right?
That actually wasn’t hard. Does anyone want to give me a reality show? I could use the money.