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America's Next Top Model season finale recap: Plus Won!

In the season finale, ”full-figured” Whitney’s earthy appeal beats Anya’s airy beauty

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America's Next Top Model

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You’ve got to hand it to the judges: After they spent 12 television hours touting her onAmerica’s Next Top Model as a plus-size model, Tyra finally decided last night to inform us that the correct term is ”full figured,” while Paulina insisted that the only label that size-10 Whitney should ever bear is ”beautiful.” Better late than never? Here’s what I’ll say: For the first time, I’m actually looking forward to the winner’s weekly ”My Life as a CoverGirl” spots next season. Will labels be as supportive of the average-size woman when there’s not a guaranteed audience? We’ll find out.

In my opinion, Whitney owes her win to a truly stunning CoverGirl beauty shot — the second part of a TV-commercial and print-ad challenge. Why? Whichever girl was crowned ”top model” was clearly gonna have to reshoot her CoverGirl commercial (no one, as shown at panel, had a single flawless take). What was locked in stone was that one winning beauty shot — which will be used in a national print ad, displays in Wal-Mart, and a Times Square billboard. Whitney’s was the only one to receive universal praise, and as Paulina said, it was her ”first flash of brilliance, and very timely.” (I’m winking at you, Paulina.) Even though Tyra liked Anya’s photo, which somehow made her unrecognizable to me, Miss J. definitely did not: ”You take great pictures, but sometimes there’s just no personality and no character there.” Neither did Paulina, who made an uncharacteristic attempt to soften her dream-crushing blow: ”Even though you’re beautiful, and I love the way you look, and I’ve gotten to know you a little bit more as a person, too…here, you look stupid.” They’ve got to have Paulina back as a judge next season because she is gold, as was her response to Tyra’s request for clarification on her use of the word ”stupid”: ”She looks like she’s dreaming about fields and pastures.” (Tyra’s retort, I’ll admit, also made me laugh: ”I wasn’t thinking about a damn thing when I was modeling. I was just like, I’m hungry. Is Houston’s open? Did my boyfriend call me? No, he didn’t.”) Paulina wasn’t any kinder critiquing Fatima’s pretty shot, where she looked into the light, and you know Paulina hates that: ”It’s a little bit like ‘I’ve sighted God, and I’m happy to see him.’ ” Tyra, meanwhile, broke out the old ”you have to learn to smile with your eyes” chestnut, complete with a quick tutorial. Not to cry conspiracy, but didn’t we hear the photographer tell Fatima she needed to move her line of vision to different heights? Perhaps, in classic Fatima mode, she didn’t listen to him, and that’s why she got stuck with the amateur-hour photo. Anya, on the other hand, appeared to give the photographer a variety of poses, so I’m not sure why she got saddled with her eyes-to-heaven clunker.

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