Mandi Bierly
February 27, 2009 AT 06:00 PM EST

Hoping to get the scoop on the story behind America’s Next Top Model‘s decision to fill season 13 with contestants 5’7″ and under, PopWatch phoned the show’s long-time casting director, Michelle Mock-Falcon, and asked what gives. Haven’t we been told for 11 seasons (the 12th cycle premieres March 4 on The CW), that short is bad (hence 5’7″ being the show’s previous minimum height requirement)? Why the sudden “short cycle”?

“Since the show started, we’ve always had girls under 5’7″ asking and begging, quite frankly, Tyra to please give them a chance,” she says. “I mean, she would get stopped in the street, in restaurants, anywhere, by girls asking how they can do it being as short as they are. We’ve been thinking about it for a while now, what a great opportunity to give these girls that opportunity. The show is all about opportunity….” But will these girls seriously have the opportunity to work after the show ends? “Kate Moss is a prime example,” she says. “Tyra knows a stream of supermodels that are under that size and are very successful, so she said, ‘Why not?’ It’s gonna be all about the face and the package as a whole.” (Since we’ve long stopped expecting any model on this show to actually be “super,” we didn’t press her.)

As we’ve already noted, the Top Model application does say, “Producers reserve the right to make case-by-case exceptions” in casting, so if you’re 5’9″ and fierce and have a backstory, cause. or prejudice that could make for great TV you might still want to attend one of the open casting calls, which begin Saturday, Feb. 28, in Miami. (Men, you’re still a tough sell, sorry. “Who knows?” Mock-Falcon says. “Maybe one of these days she’s gonna give the guys an opportunity. We get guys that come to the auditions all the time. They’re begging us to do males as well. Maybe they’ll get their wish, too.”)

For those of you planning on auditioning for cycle 13, here are Mock-Falcon’s two top tips: (1) “Wear a tank top, jeans, and heels. I think girls think if they come like that, they’ll feel underdressed. Then they’reshocked if I call back the one girl in the line that’s Plain Jane. They’re like, ‘Ohmygod, I got this, I spent thismuch money.’ It’s not about that.'” (2) “Come as natural as can be. We’ve had girls who’ve had to go take all their makeup off because they have so much of it on. Girls come in wigs and all sorts of things. Really, we just need to see through all of that.”

addCredit(“Top Model: David M. Russell/The CW; Michelle Mock-Falcon:Thos Robinson/Getty Images”)

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