I’m UK based so I don’t get to see the final for another two days time. So imagine my disappointment when I see the ANTMVH1 Instagram page sharing a celebratory photo of the winner.
I was disappointed that with the wonder of adding a series of photos they couldn’t have had a spoilers slide. But whatever, whats happened has happened.
But what has also happened is a massive disappointment within the Americas Next Top Model franchise, and something which speaks to the major issues in the fashion and beauty industry.
I’ve already said I have no idea how the final plays up. Do the other girls all quit, do they all fall over on the runway, or have spinach in their teeth for all their photos? Probably not. But non the less the winner was the under dog (and for good reason) Kyla Coleman.
Kyla Coleman isn’t one of the girls I had an issue with. She tried hard, clearly wanted it, and was a fierce activist and called for social change.
But she was mediocre. She showed up in the competition fresh faced, but sleepy eyed and so chilled she was almost horizontal. She was a beauty for sure, but her pictures were arguably nothing to write home about. Her few wins were because of the difference in her attitude from one week to the next. Never purely because she was head and shoulders above the rest. They were also few and far between.
I think she could be great model, I think she has a great background to be someone who could be called a role-model. But do I think (and a lot of other people think) she should have won, hell no.
So now for the real winner. Or at least who many people, including me, think should have been the real winner!
Curvy activist, 32, funny as hell, and Siberian beauty.
Khrystyana Kazakova. Won 6 challenges, 4 best photos, pushed personal and professional boundaries, spoke for survivors of sexual assault, and generally the best bad #BOSS of the season.
Even after killing it throughout the entire season, having a massive fan-base, and being what Drew Elliott explicitly said he wanted to see in HIS Paper magazine, she came third. Behind Jeanna (don’t get me started) and Kyla.
And people were not happy.
Just one look at the comments section from the Instagram photo ANTMVH1 posted shows the public outcry.
For me its frustration. The show has clearly showed its true colours. Its all for progression and inclusivity within the show. But only in the shows bubble. Outside of the bubble, and in the real world, it wants to fit in with the industry. It doesn’t want to challenge it.
Tyra Banks wants success. Nothing wrong with that. But allowing anyone and everyone into the show; older, bigger, darker, lighter, hairless, feminine, or masculine. It creates a facade that shes trying to change something. But shes not. When push comes to shove she wanted the safe option. And she let Kyla Coleman win because she was the tried, tested, cookie cutter, safe option. She could look like any other model walking down a runway, or in the pages of a magazine. Its boring, its been done, but it can be still be successful because no one is willing to challenge and change it.
Even having Ashley Graham on the show now looks like tokenism. Having the other women; Erin, Jeanna, Liz, and of course Khrystyana all seems like tokenism. And of course a ratings boost. Progression, diversity, and representation in all forms of media is something that is being called and shouted for at the moment.
I think Tyra Banks has jumped onto the bang wagon, for ratings, for reputation, but deep down doesn’t trust it. I don’t think she wanted to risk a curvy, older model. She wanted a winner who could book jobs, and build on the ANTM brand. She didn’t want to take a risk to she stuck to the safe option.
And in the process she undid all of the good intentions. All of the people thinking yes, these are the new faces of beauty, fashion, modelling, are wrong. And I don’t think there was ever an intention for that to be the ending of this season. And I think that is sad.
Things are changing slowly but surely. But slow isn’t enough anymore. If someone like Tyra Banks had the confidence to back a curvy, older model then it could be a game changer. It could open doors, start trends, and build a new era of the industry from the ground up.
I think this has been the biggest wasted opportunity. I think the revolution in the world of fashion and beauty, will always have to come from the little Instagram pages that blow up into something amazing. Not from the established power players. They’re too scared to lose.
So for now we’re just waiting for Khrystyana Kazakova to take over the world and bring everyone along for the ride.