New looks are everywhere, but the nasty personalities -- yes, you, Allison! -- stay the same, and Tyra is not pleased

There was a lot of drama in this episode ofAmerica’s Next Top Model, but the biggest surprise — besides Allison pulling a Michael Slezak and playing with dolls! — was that almost none of it had to do with the makeovers. Let’s break (it) down.

Crisis No. 1: Fatima and Allison talk about each other’s butt

If there is a worst possible thing to say to someone, Fatima is guaranteed to think of it. This week, after the girls squealed at their gift bags from Nelly’s Apple Bottoms (Marvita: ”Oh, hell, yeah! I’m hella-juiced! We just got some free stuff!”), Fatima told the Annihilator (a.k.a. Allison), ”Your ass is the epitome of apple-bottom-ness….I think your butt is big. Well, maybe because you’re bigger in general than some of us.” Naturally, no aspiring model wants to engage in a your-butt-is-bigger-than-mine debate. Let alone one who has battled anorexia — which we learned Allison had done when she said, ”Say that to the anorexic girl,” before retreating to another room to measure her waist. It was a real moment in an episode about weaves and fake poses, so obviously, it was over quickly.

Then, in retaliation, Allison somehow got her hands on two dolls (one black, one white), stuffed the black doll’s pants with tissue to give her a booty, and acted out a scene in which the white doll kicked that booty. Fatima chocked it up to immaturity until Allison said something that was bleeped. Why would Allison get bleeped, but Fatima’s appalled repeating of it — ”I like to take it from the back because I’m black!” — be heard loud and clear? The fight that followed was an interesting one: Is ”Well, you said something that offended me first!” an acceptable defense? (I’d argue no. Especially when Fatima’s insensitive remark wasn’t premeditated, and Allison’s was.) ”Do I need to tiptoe around your body issues when you’ve chosen an industry that will constantly critique your appearance?” (It’d be the nice thing to do, which, judging from the shocked face Fatima made when she heard Allison say she was anorexic, Fatima actually agrees with.)

Crisis No. 2: We’re in a Wal-Mart.

After the Tyra Ticker told the girls that a model must be ready on a moment’s notice, they took a 5 a.m. drive to the CoverGirl aisle at a Wal-Mart for their makeup challenge. I love me some Lauren, but unless she was kidnapped by Mr. Jay and Miss J. and forced to enroll in Top Model Prep, she needs to stop using the ”I’ve never done this before” excuse. You’re going on a modeling show. Maybe stop into Sephora and have someone give you a quick tutorial on proper application. (And while you’re at it, take me with you.) The girls had five minutes to frantically enjoy the allegedly ”enhanced shopping experience” and apply their faces. Claire won the challenge because the CoverGirl makeup artist appreciated her ”great technique,” which I believe translates loosely to her ”ability to make people think it’s Julia Stiles on this CoverGirl display.”

Crisis No. 3: Do we actually have to like Dominique now?

We need to stop and acknowledge that the words ”drag queen” were not uttered in this episode. Hooray! We also need to acknowledge that, for once, Dominique moved us with one of her girl-power speeches. Hearing her voice shake as she said that, like Claire, she wanted to win Top Model so that she could support her daughter, was touching. I believed her when she said she wanted to prove to her daughter — and to anyone who’s been held down before — that the sky still is, and always will be, the limit. It was enough to erase all those annoying third-person references she makes to herself. I’d always assumed that people do this when they think too highly of themselves. Now, I’m wondering if it’s done by insecure people who need to bolster themselves verbally — in the case of Dominique, that she’s fierce, strong, and beautiful. If she says it, maybe she’ll believe it….

Crisis No. 4: Miss J. ceases to be funny.

Am I the only one who thought the weave-and-walk shtick on makeover day was as tired as Tyra’s impersonation of Anya’s accent? I’m guessing the only reason this footage didn’t end up on the cutting-room floor is that without it Miss J. would’ve had zero presence in the episode. I know I’ve been pooing a lot on the mechanics of this season, so allow me to praise Tyra’s top-secret handling of the makeovers. Iloved that she didn’t tell the girls what they were having done, because in the real world, agents often decide their models’ looks without informing them. (So even if you’re sitting in the chair and you ask what’s about to happen, they ignore you? This is a tough business.)

The only tears we got this time were Fatima’s, over the pain of getting her first weave. Damn, that must really hurt. The award for best reaction, however, has to go to Stacy-Ann. You knew as soon as she was shown praying to a giant poster of Tyra to not have her head shaved that her tresses were toast. Seeing her short ‘do, which is supposed to bring out her features but still leaves her appearing nondescript to me, she said, ”Wow. Ohmygosh. That is different.” The vacant don’t normally fascinate me, but this girl does. As for the other makeovers, I’m not feeling Anya’s platinum look yet, but I’m reserving judgment; she’ll be able to work with anything. I kinda miss the intensity Whitney’s dark hair added to her smoky eyes, but at least with her long, blond weave I’m not constantly picturing her in a polo shirt, on a sailboat.

Aimee’s red hair made her eyes all the more intense, and I stand by my earlier prediction that she’s the season’s sleeper. Marvita’s Tyra-invented ”horse-mane hair weave” totally rocks, and not just because it got Tyra to whinny in her Tyra-Vision commentary. (Hold on, I need to go watch that again….Ah. Good stuff.) The height up top elongates her face, while the length in the back, as Marvita herself noted, makes her look more feminine. As she proved in her photo shoot on the boat, she’s still fierce. And that word is actually warranted for a change — that photo was hot. ”A panther in an urban jungle,” as Paulina growled later at panel. I finally understood why Marvita’s on the show. (And I’m so glad that Slezak has a My Little Pony on his America’s Next Top Doll show!)

Lauren’s long, blond weave with — say it with me — reddish highlights, made her feel sexy, and the judges clearly thought that transferred to her photo. I think her eyes were amazing in the picture, but her body still reads painfully awkward to me. Katarzyna essentially just darkened her hair color to bring out her ”Baby Paulina” features. More on her later. Claire’s new platinum buzz cut is pretty kick-ass. I’m looking forward to seeing how that translates to the next Badgley Mischka-style runway show. I think it adds more mystery to her: She’s got such grace about her from the neck down, you wonder about the punk on top. Fatima’s long, chestnut weave is, you know, pretty. New redhead Allison was worried that her cynical, sourpuss persona would be lost without her black hair, but she needn’t have worried! Dominique had the most unfortunate makeover, trimming and darkening her hair so that it made Paulina see nothing but a soccer mom, Tyra see a model advertising a sale in a newspaper, and the photographer on the boat see someone who was there to pick up her daughter. Ouch! I wonder if Dominique was really as confident in the new look as she seemed. At panel, Tyra assured Dominique that she would soon get the color Tyra had wanted her to have — what do you think that is? Finally, we have Amis, who, loving her long weave, issued a warning: ”I’m afraid Amis might turn into some roaring sex monster, so I think the whole world should watch it.” We’re afraid, Amis. We’re very afraid.

NEXT: Who ordered the horndog?

Crisis No. 5: Katarzyna is just too damn hot.

This week’s photo shoot brought together Elle Macpherson’s lingerie line, the deck of a boat with the New York City skyline in the background, and horndog photographer George Holz. Elle was on hand to coach the girls, and they all seemed to love her because she was actually giving them advice. While Whitney was covered up way too much — maybe Tyra should have scolded everyone at the boat shoot (looking at you, Mr. Jay) for that one — Katarzyna showed too much skin. As Tyra told Holz at panel, ”You were shooting her with your loins, not your camera.” (And you know Holz wanted to sex up Amis, who thankfully was too uncoordinated to show him a little bit of her ”backside.”) It must be an amazing feeling to be a woman who’s told she’s too sexy. Though I imagine hearing Paulina say you look ”a little Mail Order Bride No. 1” isn’t fun. I hope we see someone show Katarzyna how you tone that sex appeal down. Any thoughts?

Crisis No. 6: Allison can’t say ”thank you.”

The one way to get yourself kicked off this show — aside from practicing your poses so much that you look ”posey” — is by offending the judges. Allison did that when she didn’t thank Tyra for the backhanded compliment: ”I almost didn’t know who you were, girl. You look so soft and pretty.” That moment, when Tyra waited for the ”thank you” that never came, was almost as awkward as the moment when Tyra tried to make Nigel feel her dimpled booty. I won’t miss Allison, or hearing about how much experience she has. But I did feel a little sad for her when she broke down. I might’ve felt worse had I not been expecting her to get the boot as soon as they showed her saying, ”I kicked ass at my photo shoot. I’m not going home.”

So what do you think? Did Allison deserve to go, or did Dominique? Which makeover was the best and which was the worst? Did you miss Miss J. in this episode, or do you think he deserved to be exiled for wearing that ”sparkling brow.” And how many attempts did it take you to master Christy Turlington’s raised-eyebrow, relaxed-mouth trick, which Tyra told Claire to practice. (I’m still working on that, but the day is young.)

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Trya Banks
America's Next Top Model

Tyra Banks searches for the next great supermodel

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