America’s Next Top Model promotes the idea that through hard work, disadvantaged girls can work their way up to the top. The show points out past struggles or anything that is different about each individual girl in order to portray this idea to their audience. They purposefully seek out girls with troubled backgrounds who are not the typical white, American model. America’s Next Top Model chooses girls who have grown up differently whether its through racial differences, cultural differences or have lived through unfortunate circumstances only to transform them into the typical American model the fashion industry is looking for.
According to the article, “Fashioning Race for Free Markets on America’s Next Top Model,” Hasinoff argues that this show “makes race hyper-visible as a malleable commodity and confirms the neoliberal fantasy of the structural irrelevance of race and class in the US by satisfying the demand for recognizable tropes of racialized feminine beauty that only reference hardship or disadvantage as something that can be overcome through hard work.” This argument supports the claim that these models are chosen because of their differences but only with the intent of transforming them into the idealized model type.
Conforming to the Needs of the Market
Hasinoff discusses one particular scenario in which an African American contestant is criticized for her speech. Her small town country accent is not popular among the judges. Even though she remained a front runner throughout the competition, the judges said she was missing one thing. They said that in order to be a Cover Girl Model, which is the end goal of the competition, “she had to be articulate, she had to speak eloquently.” These models are entered in this competition because they are different, but in the end, they are molded into the form that is acceptable in the industry. Danielle is instructed on how to transform into this idealized hip-hop glamour version of herself. She is chosen as the winner at the end of the cycle supporting the need for employees to be able to conform to the “demands of the market” and “the need to continually undertake projects of individual self-improvement to attempt to succeed within the constraints of the system.” Chris Tokuhama discusses in his article about America’s Next Top Model, “I like em All Shapes and Sizes, that we “envision the “what” but entirely forget about the “how.” The process these models undergo transforms each model in order to achieve success in the modeling industry. Viewers watch their success but don’t consider the idea that these models have lost their true identity in this transformation.
This show illustrates the idea that it gives a fair chance for everyone to succeed no matter how different they are but in reality, these differences are only temporary. Throughout the show, it is the judges job to transform these women into the ideal model who can be marketed in the fashion industry.