Posing for swimsuit photos becomes more difficult as the models try to embrace their (sometimes drastically) changed looks
America's Next Top Model
Credit: Jim De Yonker

‘America’s Next Top Model’ recap: Make me over

Makeovers, swimsuit shoots, and a princess party featuring special guest Prince Couture — the perfect Top Model episode, people.

Let’s start at the beginning when Princess Tyra shared life lessons (and tiaras) with her models in waiting. Loved the story about how when Tyra’s agency told her mother that Tyra needed to lose 15 pounds, her mother said “Screw that! Let’s order pizza,” and devised a plan to reposition her former high-fashion daughter as a curvaceous Victoria’s Secret/Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue model. When you think about it though there was absolutely no reason for the half-assed princess-themed announcement of makeovers. (I say half-assed because Tyra wasn’t wearing a princess gown. You might call that a rare sign of restraint.) But at least we got to see Prince Couture (Mr. Jay) wake the sleeping beauty with a kiss. Joslyn swooned and Sheena appeared mesmerized. Classic.

One of the best decisions this show ever made was to keep the individual makeover plans a secret from the girls until their transformation is complete. That way, you get genuine drama/reactions and, of course, picture-in-picture commentary from Good Fierce Witch Tyra. In general, this cycle’s makeovers were a huge success. After a brief identity crisis and some tears, Elina embraced her so-called big, silly red weave, which really was a stroke of genius. It adds mystery and, somehow, a bit of softness. Samantha’s sexy trim gave her edge — and made you realize that her face is as beautiful as her body in photos. Hannah’s makeover has her looking a bit like Holly from Bravo’s Make Me a Supermodel, don’t you think? But the important thing is with the brunet bangs and chop to the chin, she looked less like a mouse. I wasn’t as wowed by Clark’s dark turn as Paulina was. I was, however, in awe of Clark’s quote: “I might have brown hair now, but I’m still blond inside.” I was more taken with McKey’s change to a black Linda Evangelista ‘do. It was strong and compliments her sharp features. The rest of the makeovers were almost too predictable. Joslyn, Isis, and Brittany got long weaves. Lauren Brie went platinum, while Analeigh just went slightly blonder. Marjorie stayed short and went warmer. And Sheena stayed long but got “tropical” highlights.

Of course, there was only one place that the girls could show off their new looks: Wal-Mart. Cue the CoverGirl-makeup-aisle challenge and Joslyn’s best quote to date: “I’m like completely shocked. We have a whole Wal-Mart to ourselves. Can I go shoppin’?” The girls had to apply their own TruBlend foundation, then tape an ad for the product which, if chosen, would appear on both CoverGirl’s and Wal-Mart’s websites. Hannah’s makeover has definitely emboldened her, because she was confident and articulate in her spot and won the prize. (“This is huge. I’m so thrilled. I’m gonna be online. Like, I can Google myself. This is so cool.” God bless her.) Other highlights included Analeigh ending her take with a random “yo” and Marjorie referring to Wal-Mart as Walgreens. This wasn’t as hard as filming a commercial in a foreign language, but the girls had to write their own scripts, so we’ll be nice and move on.

NEXT: The girls suit up

After some light drama in the house — Elina said she hated her mother, and Brittany thought that made her look like an ungrateful evil bitch — it was time to model Susan Holmes swimsuits at a Malibu beach house. Russell James, who shot Tyra’s first Sports Illustrated cover, was the photographer. He and Holmes directed the shoots while Mr. Jay simply consulted with each of the girls before they went on set. I like the idea of testing the girls early, don’t you? Analeigh’s diminishing self-confidence and lack of imagination condemned her to the bottom two again this week, but luckily for her, the judges decided to send Brittany home instead. I thought Brittany’s photo was sweetly seductive and good enough to get her another week, but maybe the judges got the report about how she couldn’t even walk normally when the photographer asked her to….(That was almost as painful to watch as Hannah’s psycho eyes. She was smiling with her eyes — only it was like Jack Nicholson’s Joker!) I won’t miss Brittany, but I do want to give her props for knowing that Miss J.’s proclamation that she looks like a woman who would marry a football player isn’t the highest compliment a female can receive.

Watching Marjorie, Elina, and Samantha shoot, even for just a few seconds, you saw that there’s something different about them: They exuded a quiet confidence and, unlike Brittany, they were fully engaged. You knew they had ideas, but you also felt like you could mold them. I found it hysterical that Elina won the swimsuit shoot with a stunning photo that didn’t show the swimsuit. At all. This was especially funny since we’d just heard Miss J. tell Marjorie that he would have liked to see more of the swimsuit in her photo. There’s no way that Marjorie’s name should’ve been called after Sheena’s and Joslyn’s at judges’ panel. Sheena had a beautiful leg position in her photo and managed to find a bikini that downplayed her boob job, but the face was only good for me, not great. Miss J. thought Joslyn’s pose was a little too girl-in-the-hood. I thought it just looked awkward and staged — something you’d expect from a cheerleader or Mickey Mouse Club or Kids Incorporated production number. While we’re on the subject of Joslyn — what do they do with her makeup on photo shoots to make her unrecognizable from the woman we see at panel (or anywhere else)? With Lauren Brie, who took another strong photo this week (and kinda reminded me of Rachel McAdams), I think it’s all about the hair. But I can’t tell what they do to Joslyn. Seriously.

Moving on to Clark, if we did power rankings for the contestants week to week, she would lose some spots after this episode. Her pose was totally uninspired. McKey, however, would move way up. I loved her pose — an outstretched body looking strong and feminine — and how great was it to hear Susan Holmes say that McKey thought outside the box after the handholding Mr. Jay had to do during the voting shoot?

Finally, we can talk about Isis. As much as I want to know how they got her in that swimsuit, I suppose we should applaud the show for not exploiting her situation and diving into all the details. Though I still think we could have seen a few of the positions she tried that didn’t work. Russell and Susan weren’t told that Isis was born male, so I would’ve also liked to see the moment they figured it out. Or, if they didn’t, have watched them find out after the shoot. I think we need to know how designers and photographers will treat her. (Russell just said he thinks her facial structure will hold her back.) I think Tyra treated Isis kinda cruelly: The best shot she could find in Isis’ film was one with a “weak eye”? If that really was the best shot, Isis deserved to be in the bottom two. But I’m guessing the judges cut her some slack because that shoot obviously stressed her out. Maybe she was so nervous that she didn’t get sleep and that’s why she looked tired?

So, do you think Brittany was the right person to send home? Is it fair that Elina won the swimsuit photo shoot with a shot that only showed her face and tattoos? And how awesome was it that they cut to Nigel when Tyra started talking about Samantha’s “come get me” booty and chests?

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Trya Banks
America's Next Top Model

Tyra Banks searches for the next great supermodel

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