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Recap: America’s Next Top Model, Episode 16.4, “Antiquated Gender Roles — Fierce!”

Are you ready, Persephone readers? It’s once again time to play “I can’t believe I watch this show. Me, an actual adult!” I have a cocktail, the overwhelming encouragement of my husband (“I don’t care what you do”), and I’m ready to recap America’s Next Top Model — a show so acute and complex, it requires group Internet study.

Tyra Banks

Alexandria got top photo last week, and was also voted “Most Likely to Make Me Roll My Eyes” because of an inability to play well with others. As one of the moddles noted: “A top model doesn’t act the way she does.” Except that they do. Note to the producers: Don’t give Alexandria an assistant or a cell phone. Because of Alexandria’s snotty attitude, resentment roils through the house like a hairball through my cat’s esophagus. Let’s hope no one has to clean a mess on the carpet.

Underdog Sara was in the bottom two last week. She self-identifies as a feminist (yay!), but feels like less of a woman than the other models (boo!) Sara! Girl, you need to mosey on over to Persephone Magazine, where you’d learn that patriarchal beauty standards like long hair don’t matter a hill of beans in terms of your being a woman, and a beautiful one to boot. I just want to wrap this lady in my arms and sing, “I Am Woman” to her.

Alexandria and Sara (or, as I like to call them, Goofus and Gallant) had a debate about purpose and drive in the modeling industry.

Alexandria America's Next Top Model ANTM
Sara America's Next Top Model ANTM

Goofus says that if you don’t run away to New York immediately after Tyra kicks you out of the house with her eight inch platform stiletto, you’re a big ol’ loser who is not COMMITTED to MODELING. Gallant wants to stay in school to develop her brain, so that she has one when her looks run out. I can actually see both sides of this debate, for youth is king, er, queen in the modeling industry, and those precious years between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two are prime for frolicking amongst some elephants whilst wearing a two million dollar ball gown. Then again, brains are important (especially if you’re a zombie).

Tyra Mail declared, “If you don’t watch your step, your career will go up in flames.” From this bold missive, I can only conclude that the moddles will be dunking each other in the pond to see who floats, and then burning the witch. Yea, modeling is truly a survival of the fittest sort-of enterprise.

Oops, I was wrong. Too bad. Instead of my idea (which would have had ratings through the roof), a giant talking banana told the dainty ladies that they shall walk a runway for Geoffrey Mack. (The banana herself was modeling a piece from the Dorothy Zbornak collection.)

Ms. Jay Alexander America's Next Top Model ANTM
World's Most Awesome Banana

Mr. Mack has designed clothes for Lady Gaga. This announcement made yours truly hopeful that we may yet see some fire. And, indeed, I got my wish! Not only was the runway ON FIRE, but the moddles’ HANDS WOULD BE ON FIRE. Thank you, Fairy Gagamother! This runway challenge had everything we have come to expect from ANTM: Danger! Unnecessary-ness! Stupidity!

I hope none of them scratch their butts.

Ms. Banana told the girls that if they fall, they were to clap their hands to put out the fire, and then get out of there. GET OUT OF THERE? For shame! A top model is above all things COMMITTED TO HER CRAFT! If it had been me, I’d have told them to STOP, DROP, AND SMIZE.

America's Next Top Model ANTM flaming runway

Finally, the moment of truth arrived! Holy shit, y’all. Just look at this! If Lady Gaga had been on this runway, her meat dress would have ended up medium rare. It really burns me up. I’d be in hot water if I’d have had to walk that runway. My cheeks would have flamed with embarrassment. Oh, no — if I don’t stop with the puns the blog is gonna fire me.

*Rimshot* I’ll be here all week. Try the veal!

As you may have expected from all the false suspense, no moddles were harmed in the making of this TV show. Dalya won the challenge, like whoa. She has a gorgeous, elegant walk. And she was a gracious winner. Hear that, Alexandria?

Dalya America's Next Top Model ANTM
Dalya is on fire!

The three losers of the challenge were forced to walk home. As in perambulate. On their own two legs! I thought the fire challenge was beastly, but it was nothing compared to the terrifying ordeal these women (and their entire camera crew) endured in the “ghetto” streets of Los Angeles. Hannah wished she had brass knuckles for protection! I wished I had those when I was watching you, Hannah.

After they made it home safely (SPOILER), Tyra Mail happened, as it does. It said something about “causing a scene,” so probably the audience at home will have to watch these moddles “act.” And I thought the rough ‘n’ tumble streets of L.A. were fearsome. *SHUDDER* My worst nightmares materialized when scripts arrived. Sigh.

The commercial was about making coffee sexy. Is that really a challenge? I can’t be the only one who humps her coffee mug every morning, right? I mean “practically” humps her coffee mug. Ahem.

Acting like a subservient sexpot in the commercial rubbed Gallant’s feminist dander the wrong way. Yeah! Thinking about the sociopolitical implications of hypersexualized women in the media is sexy! While Sara thought deep thoughts, Molly practiced making out with the OJ carton. Tomato, tomahto.

She likes her OJ with pulp.

The spot was directed by Fashion Photographer and Director Francesco Carrozzini, who has a very sexy name. Of course he’s in fashion. I mean, a handsome man named Francesco Carrozzini is not going to go into the shit-shoveling business. Or is he?

The styling was very Mad Men. Inspired by the character Joan Holloway (blessed be her hourglass), the stylists gave Jaclyn a fake butt. Other moddles got socks stuffed in their bras. In other “we’re emancipated women and it’s the year 2011” news, the idea of the scene is that the secretaries (the women) have an idea to sex up the coffee product, but they can’t tell their boss (the man) that, because feminine intelligence emasculates him. Yes. Really. After the nubile underlings subtly pitch their sensual ideas at the boss, he pitches a tent! Ha ha ha! Ah, the good old days, when the words “sexual” and “harassment” were fun and didn’t combine to form a party-crashing idea.

Gallant’s head nearly exploded at this, as did mine.

Oh, and they named the product “Fierce Roast Coffee.” Yes. Really. The best part of waking up is sexism in your cup!

Alexandria ran about trying to do everyone else’s job on set. Too bad no one let her re-write this bullshit script. I’m a Mad Men fan, but that series displays sexism with a purpose — to make a point about the struggle of our mothers in a man’s world. ANTM‘s retro-spective was too much retro, and not enough introspective.

Alexandria America's Next Top Model ANTM
Alexandria plots to eat your soul.

The best part of this facepalm fest was the styling. The clothes and hair were adorable. I happen to collect vintage clothing and I simply love it, but I wouldn’t go live in the 1960s if you paid me. Seems to me the only people who remember way-back-when fondly are the bosses of the world.

Dalya America's Next Top Model ANTM
Dalya keeps being amazing.

Kasia won best commercial, for working every moment and not going over the top. I thought she did pretty great.

Kasia America's Next Top Model ANTM

Goofus and Gallant fell into the bottom two. You can imagine what happened next. The holy terror stayed, and the conflicted feminist was sent home. “Confidence wins,” said Tyra.

I do believe that that the bottom line in any job is performance, and Sara simply didn’t do very well in the commercial. It’s just too fucking bad that a sensible, thinking young woman was asked to pander to forty-year-old sexist tropes in the first place. That’s one cup of coffee that’s a damn bitter brew to swallow.

America's Next Top Model ANTM Tyra Banks

By Lucy Woodhull

Lucy Woodhull is a novelist, humorist, parodist, and all-around geek. Her new venture is THE SHITTIEST PRINCESS, a series of un-fair-y tales right here on Persephone. You can check out her sexy, fun romantic comedies at

12 replies on “Recap: America’s Next Top Model, Episode 16.4, “Antiquated Gender Roles — Fierce!””

I laughed a LOT during last night’s episode, and I knew that the recap today would be equally hilarious. Thanks BHB!

All I kept hearing in my head while they were shooting the commercials was Gretchen Wieners saying “I mean, that’s just, like, the rules of feminism!”

I used to watch Top Model as a guilty pleasure, but I gave up around the time of the season with the “short” models. I get that most models are at least 5’7”, but Tyra’s attitude during that one made me rage. St. Tyra basically declared that no one has ever thought that women this positively miniscule could be models. She is clearly amazing for allowing them to be beautiful, and having them pose in their photoshoots as…dolls. And children. And anything small. They can’t even get past someone being average height, so I don’t have super-high hopes for their treatment of contestants who don’t fit their standard idea of beauty.

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