Monday, July 7, 2008

A New Low or the Next Top Model?

The BBC's latest model reality show "Britain's Missing Top Model" premiered last Tuesday night,
featuring eight beautiful women, who happen to have disabilities, competing to prove that they have what it takes to become a mainstream fashion model.
Just like
America's Next Top Model, the girls move into a London flat together where they eat, sleep and breathe the modeling/fashion industry over a three-week period, go through a series of challenges and photo shoots to see if they have what it takes to become a model. Then, they get eliminated one by one by a panel of "expert" judges. The winner gets a fashion spread in the British Marie-Claire Magazine.

With this training and experience, the show says the aspiration for the winner is to give her a foot in the door of the fashion industry.

Danny Cohen, Controller for the BBC Three says...

"This series aims to challenge the artificial boundaries that seem to exist in the beauty and fashion industries. "It would be great if, in the future, we began to see more disabled models gracing the covers of the world's magazines."

{ Meet the Girls... }

Jessica Kellgren-Hayes: England, Hereditary disorder which makes one extremely susceptible to injury. Jessica has lost all sensation & movement in her arms. {right}

Debbie van der Putten:
Nethlerlands, Arm amputee {left}

Kellie Moody:
England, Born deaf {right}

Jenny Johnson:
Seattle, USA, Left partially paralyzed from a car accident {left}

Kelly Knox:
England, Born without a left forearm {right}

Rebecca Le'gon:
England, Leg Amputee {left}

Sophie Morgan:
England, Paraplegic, paralyzed form the waist down & confined to a wheel chair {right}

Lilli Risner:
England, Born profoundly deaf {left}

Disabled models aren't necessarily a new thing...designers such as Alexander McQueen have used them on the runway in the past and the girls on the show seem to enjoy all the attention, makeovers and shoots. But, is this a new low for producers in a desperate attempt for ratings??

Or, is this actually a show that represents the disabled in a positive light and offers them an experience they might not have otherwise?

The jury is still out...


Catherine said...

My son is disabled and I think that things like this continue to separate people with disabilities from those without. I understand having athletic competitions with separations because having no legs certainly makes competing in a track event incredibly difficult - but modeling? I don't see how being deaf or missing an arm makes it more difficult to be photographed.

It would be nicer to see someone with a disability on the Next Top Model without having to make a "special" show. And once the person with the disability was on the original show, I don't want to be constantly hearing about their disability. Just let them compete.

So yeah, you can see I think it's a new low. ;)

Sarah Jane said...

tricky one.. I agree with Catherine, why make a separate show? I'm not sure if I am sickened or kinda happy that there is a chance for the models to enter... I am now leaning towards a new low!

Mrs.Kwitty said...

I see that catherine and sarahjane said what I was going to say. The models themselves are making the choice to do what they do--which is great! But, it does seem SO exploitive to have them all showcased as disabled models on a specific show. Why not just let them integrate with the rest of the models on the regular show? I think they could hold their own, don't you?
Smiles, Karen

windycindy said...

This is a topic that I would have to think about! I have a large birthmark on the left side of my face that is difficult to cover. Disability or not?! Thanks for the article. Cindi

ElegantSnobbery said...

I'd really like to know when desperate reality TV will come to an end! I agree with all that has been said before me!

ThisOldHenHouse said...

I agree with the others - I'm all for cheesy reality TV, but why make a seperate show - specifically for disables models, to me thats just demoralizing them and doing exactly what they are supposedly preaching against - making a specticle of other people for the benifit of television.

Its sad really.

Marilyn said...

I have to say I would be interested in seeing this show but it would make better television to have them on the regular Top Model shows. Maybe the fasion industry is scared of one of these girls actually winning? Or afraid of being accused of eliminating them because of their disability? So maybe they (industry folks) think it's safer to have a separate show.

Tammy said...

Interesting, it just goes to show you that what is perceived as beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. Truly, I agree with Catherine, what difference does it make if the person has a "disability" does it make them any less model material than a person who has all their limbs and can see and hear? For that matter I'd like to see plain jane that weighs just over the range of her "ideal weight" that is graying a bit and whose only cosmetics are lip gloss and who owns not a one dry clean only outfit, compete! How's that for a handicap in a model run world?

Lyn said...

I totally agree with the idea of an "intergrated" show. Unfortunately, this is reality, and it bites hard. If one is different, he/she is seen differently; judged differently; and treated differently. I know how it feels like and while this may seem sad, it is reality.
So, yes, this is an unavoidable new low.

Judy said...

I'm a bit fickle here. I think the models look beautiful, but maybe it's what they want. I hate the title of the show and I think the last paragraph (by D. Cohen who did the write up)stating "foot in the door" could have been said a bit differently.

Anonymous said...

I just don't know how this isn't actually exploitation for the purpose of ratings rather than the noble purpose they proclaim it to be. I wish television producers' motives were that pure but somehow I doubt it.