Thursday, May 15, 2008

Whitney Thompson wins 'America's Next Top Model,' first full-figured

Whitney Thompson is the first girl with curves to win America's Next Top Model.

The 20-year-old student from Atlantic Beach, FL became the first full-figured model to win Top Model, as she was crowned the reality competition series' tenth-season champ during last night's finale broadcast on The CW.

"There's definitely times I've looked in the mirror or at other girls and thought that I wasn't like them -- always being judged and thinking, 'Am I different? Is there something wrong with me?'" said Whitney after her victory.

"No. I do feel good about myself and I want other women in America to feel good about themselves. I honestly think that girls will look up to me and say, 'I can do that. I can be that. I don't have to starve. I don't have to have plastic surgery. I can really be like that. I can be on the billboard. I can be on that magazine cover. Why? Because I'm beautiful -- on the inside out.' I have breasts, I have hips, I have a butt -- and I am so proud of those things. I am here and I am me. I'm not going to change myself."

For winning Top Model's tenth season, Whitney claimed the grand prize package of a management deal with Elite Model Management; a $100,000 contract with cosmetics company CoverGirl; and a cover story and six-page fashion spread in an issue of Seventeen magazine.

"It feels amazing to be America's Next Top Model," added Whitney. "This is exactly what I want. This is exactly everything that I ever wanted since I was a little girl."

Anya Kop, a 19-year-old in retail sales from Honolulu, HI, finished second.

"I'm going to go back home and I'm going to cry," said Anya. "I'm proud of myself. I may not be America's Next Top Model, but I have my whole career ahead of me."

Top Model's tenth-season finale began following the previous judging panel that saw the elimination of Dominique Reighard. The three remaining contestants then received Tyra Mail that contained their lines for an upcoming CoverGirl commercial shoot.

"At least it's in English," said Whitney, referencing a previous tenth-season CoverGirl commercial shoot where the girls had to deliver their lines in Italian.

The next day the girls met Top Model art director Jay Manuel at The Colosseum, where they would film a CoverGirl television commercial and also participate in a photo shoot for a print ad. In addition, Jay told them that the winner would have her CoverGirl photo on a Times Square billboard. Top Model ninth-season winner Saleisha Stowers then met the girls and dispensed some advice as they had their hair and makeup done.

Fatima Siad, a 22-year-old student from Boston, MA, was the first to film her commercial, and she was "excited."

"I know I'm gonna do well," she boasted.

While Jay was "very impressed" Fatima was able to memorize her CoverGirl commercial lines, she was delivering them way too quickly and they weren't making sense.

"Fatima just kept running all the lines together and it just sounded a bit robotic," he opined. "Her looking so perfect coupled with her being robotic made her look a little not human."

Whitney did much better than Fatima, and while Anya had some problems with her lines, Jay thought her "wonderful energy" saved the commercial. The three girls then had their CoverGirl print ads shot by photographer Jim De Yonker.

"I want this so bad," said Fatima after the shoot was complete. "I just feel like I have it. I really feel like America's Next Top Model. I want the judges to see it."

Top Model's penultimate tenth-season panel then commenced, where the girls would be judged by Top Model creator and lead judge Tyra Banks; photographer Nigel; runway expert J. "Ms. J" Alexander; and supermodel Paulina Porizkova.

Tyra thought Whitney was "directable" in her commercial shoot, and Paulina added it had the vibe of a "Miss America competition." As for her photo, Ms. J. thought Whitney looked "very pretty" and Nigel added it had a "vintage" quality to it. Tyra commented the photo was "absolutely stellar."

The judges then watched Fatima's commercial.

"If that was a toothpaste ad, that would be fantastic," commented Nigel, not exactly a glowing review.

Paulina echoed Jay's on-set criticism that Fatima talked too fast. While Nigel thought Fatima looked "stunning" in her photo, Paulina had a problem with the way her eyes were positioned.

Tyra commented Anya's commercial was "the biggest train wreck in the world" but added it was the "best commercial" because of Anya's energy. Paulina agreed that Anya came across as "convincing and honest," and Nigel called her "naturally charming." Tyra thought Anya's photo was "commercial" but still had an "edge" to it.

Before the judges began to deliberate, Tyra revealed that the two finalists would be competing in a runway fashion show while wearing designs handpicked by Donatella Versace. The judges then deliberated.

"Fatima wants this so much that it's taking control of her," commented Nigel.

Paulina thought Fatima made a "wonderful print model."

"I love that [Fatima] has struggled and gone through such cruel things that a lot of us in American could never even imagine or fathom," said Tyra, as Fatima was a victim of genital mutilation. "She stands before us with pride and is not a victim."

The judges then revealed that Anya and Whitney would be the two tenth-season finalists as Fatima was given the boot.

"I feel like I've accomplished so much," said Fatima after her ouster. "I've made history. I'm the first Somali refugee woman to be a part of America's Next Top Model. Hopefully I'll be a role model for a lot of young women, especially East African women. They can look at me and say, 'Wow! Look at her, she went out there. She did her thing.' I feel like I'm born again. I just have to let go of everything that ever happened to me and start all over again. I feel so new, I feel so beautiful, I feel so strong... Trust me, you will not forget about me. You will see this face."

Anya and Whitney then returned to their Roman apartment.

"My entire life, I've grown up with a bunch of mean girls picking on me all the time -- the back-handed compliments, 'Oh my gosh! You don't even look that fat!'" said Whitney, who had an emotional moment during the previous panel. "I've got a tough skin from that, which is the only reason I can stand here and be confident in being a plus-sized model in a house full of little toothpicks."

The next day the girls met Seventeen magazine editor-in-chief Ann Shoket for their Seventeen photo shoot, with Nigel serving as the photographer. The winner of Top Model would receive a six-page spread in Seventeen's July issue and also appear on the cover.

Anya and Whitney then arrived for their Roman runway show, where they were met by Jay and Ms. J. Since it was a real runway fashion show, the girls would be walking with other models -- including Saleisha.

With both girls nervous, the show commenced. Both girls executed their first time on the runway fairly flawlessly, however Whitney had her heel get tangled up in her second gown while Anya had a hard time walking in her second gown since it was constricting the movement of her feet. After the show was over, Tyra went backstage and said she was "proud" of both Anya and Whitney.

Top Model's final tenth-season panel then commence.

"You didn't bring it as strong as you could have, you didn't bring it as strong as you should have," commented Ms. J about Anya.

Paulina said "to be fair," Anya's dress was "very narrow" at the bottom. Ms. J wasn't buying it, and said "there was a way to move the body to make it look elegant."

"You're just so stunning on that runway. The camera loves your face, the light loves your face," added Tyra.

Ms. J thought Whitney nailed the runway show right off the bat, while Nigel said he wasn't a big fan of her first outfit.

"That being said, you saved yourself with your second walk," he added.

Tyra said Whitney reminded her of herself on the runway and added she did a "great job," but gave her the slight criticism that she didn't pose at the end of the runway to give photographers a good shot.

In addition, the judges evaluated Anya and Whitney's photos from the previous tenth-season shoots before deliberating their decision.

Whitney was then revealed to be Top Model's tenth-season champ.

"This should not be called plus-size or full-figured," said Paulina. "This should just be called beautiful."


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