America’s Next Top Model Was a Nightmare

Recently, clips of America’s Next Top Model’s host, Tyra Banks, tormenting her contestants have gone viral. Some of the contestants have even come forward speaking out about their experiences working on the show. Contestants were only paid $40 a day, sleep deprived, only allowed to speak to loved ones on the phone if they signed an NDA, and were kept in the dark about creative decisions to make sure they were always on their toes. In contrast, Banks earned $30 million in a year (source). 

A major part of the show was the hair makeovers—which happened to be my personal favorite part of the show. In this part of the show, Tyra Banks would choose a makeover that would usually result in a complete transformation and lots of tears—rightfully so. In retrospect, realizing that the contestants had no idea what the makeover they were going to get was, it makes complete sense why the models were so distraught over their looks. It’s especially upsetting if the contestants were sent home that episode or even the next episode. Sometimes the makeovers seemed like clear sabotages, maybe to entertain the producers or the executive producer which was Tyra herself. 

The first cycle winner, Adrianne Curry, revealed that Revlon refused to let her model for them and she hasn’t gotten paid for winning to this day. The show did, however, manage to paint her out to be a diva just as reality TV is so notorious for doing. That being said, the later cycle winners were able to pursue modeling gigs after the show—Adrianne included. 

The show also had numerous other questionable moments. For example, the photoshoot theme where the models were given makeovers to look like another race. Also, numerous models were sent to the hospital for various reasons ranging from fainting, food poisoning, dehydration, and exhaustion. Tyra also ridiculed a contestant for not wanting to close the gap in her teeth, claiming it wasn’t “marketable,” only to widen another contestant’s gap a few cycles later. 

Tyra Banks’ blatant disrespect to the contestants was not only harmful to the contestants but it also perpetuated beauty standards to the young viewers that watched the show. With young kids watching the show, seeing Tyra Banks diss tooth gaps, it could result in children resenting their own gaps and struggling with insecurities. 
America’s Next Top Model ran from 2003 until 2018. The show was cancelled for “low ratings” even though the final season averaged just over 1 million viewers which was considered low by ANTM standards whose 2005 finale had over 6 million viewers. It’s surprising to think that just now a show that was so wildly popular for 15 years has been receiving backlash for its questionable decisions. Early 2000’s reality TV just allowed anything to air and was truly a lawless wasteland—but that’s a whole other conversation.

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