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6 Lessons We Learned From America’s Next Top Model

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Drexel chapter.

For as long as we can remember, America’s Next Top Model has been there for us. Photo-shoots, runways, go-sees, house drama—we’ve been through it all with the girls and guys of ANTM. After 22 cycles and 12 years, it felt like our favorite reality show was never going to end. But sadly, it’s been confirmed that it has officially been cancelled. While there are rumors that ANTM might be continued on another platform, it will no longer be aired on the CW. In light of this tragic news, the least we can do is look back on everything that ANTM and the beautiful host, Tyra Banks, has taught us.

1. Deafness isn’t a disability.

This show has been breaking every rule in the fashion industry since it first aired. Most recently, in its last season, the first deaf model in the history of ANTM (Nyle DiMarco) won first place. Thanks to ANTM, Nyle now has a platform to speak for the deaf community in addition to winning a contract with NEXT Model Management, which is known for representing models such as Ana Beatriz Barros and Abbey Lee Kershaw. When asked about his victory, Nyle commented, “I hope my win will make people realize that we’re as normal as can be. I also hope my win will inspire Deaf people to do whatever they want to do in life! The possibilities are endless,”  (Source).

Nyle DiMarco, posted on his Instagram

2. Being different isn’t a bad thing.

Nyle’s win certainly wasn’t the first time that the show has made breakthroughs in the industry. In Cycle 21, Chantelle Brown-Young became the first contestant with vitiligo, a skin condition that causes depigmentation. On the show, she spoke about how she always felt self-conscious about her condition but finally came to realize that it’s what sets her apart in the industry—and Tyra agreed! Tyra took every chance to point out that what made Chantelle different also made her even more gorgeous. “The moment I laid eyes on Chantelle, I wanted her on Top Model. Her beauty is undeniable and her skin breaks down barriers of what is considered beautiful,” she said (Source).

Chantelle Brown-Young, posted on her Instagram

3. You shouldn’t just accept your flaws, but also love them.

Tyra has coined many phrases on the show including “Ty-overs” (custom makeovers by Tyra), “h2t” (modeling from head to toe), and of course “smize” (smiling with your eyes). But perhaps the most meaningful Tyra-term is “flawsome.” Flawsome means that someone is awesome because of their flaws, whether it’s a gap between their teeth, a large nose, or a big forehead (Tyra’s self proclaimed flaw). She has focused several episodes around the idea that these “flaws” should be looked at as positives and centered photo-shoots around the various quirks of each contestant. Though you probably won’t hear anyone actually use “flawsome” in their daily vocabulary, the idea still stands—flaws aren’t actually bad!

Shot from the “Flawsome” Photoshoot, Cycle 20Source

4. Be proud of your sexuality.

The show may have been dominated by straight females, but we can’t ignore the fact that it also did a good job of representing a fair spectrum of sexualities throughout the cycles, including openly gay models like Kayla Ferrel and AzMarie Livingston, and bisexual models like Laura LaFrate and Nicole Borud. These are only few—and there have been male models on the list of LGBTQ models as well. The latest winner, Nyle DiMarco, has also recently come out as sexually fluid.

In Cycle 21, which featured both male and female models, Tyra was not afraid to chew out Denzel Wells for making homophobic comments directed towards another contestant, Will Jardell, who was openly gay. Denzel stated that while he wanted a man to win that cycle, he didn’t want it to be a man who wore heels, which was something that Will had done several times on the show. Tyra was in full support of Will and reprimanded Denzel for his ignorant comments. You can watch the whole clip here.

Will Jardell rocking heels at castings


5. Transgender women are real women.

In Cycle 11, Isis King became the first transgender woman to be on ANTM, and she was probably one of the most well-known transgender women on TV in general. She was very open about being “born in the wrong body” and stood as a role model for other transgender men and women. After her time on ANTM, Isis was invited onto the Tyra Banks Show, where Tyra introduced her to Dr. Marci Bowers, a gender reassignment surgeon. She later came back to ANTM for the All-Stars cycle after having completed gender reassignment surgery with Dr. Bowers.

Isis King, Cyles 11 and 17


6. Every skin color is beautiful.

Throughout its 22 cycles, ANTM featured contestants of every color in the rainbow. Black, white, Asian, Latina—every single competitor was drop-dead gorgeous in his or her own unique way. Before being announced as Cycle 14 winner, Krista White discussed being dark-skinned. “There’s a lot of dark-skinned girls who don’t think they’re pretty or beautiful… it’s really hard. I know what that’s like,” she said. Tyra responded by telling her, “By you being a finalist with America’s Next Top Model, it’s showing girls that look like you that they are beautiful. And that’s why you’re here—it’s bigger than you, your calling is bigger than you.”

Krista White, Cycle 14 winner and face of CoverGirl


America’s Next Top Model was not perfect. After all, it was a reality TV show and, as such, there was bound to be hyped-up drama and unfair editing. But now that it’s sadly coming to an end, we should take this time to look back on the show and the lessons it’s taught us for so many years. ANTM has had a huge impact on many people’s lives. If it’s taught us anything, though, it’s simply to love and accept ourselves no matter what. And to smize. Don’t forget to smize.

Her Campus Drexel contributor.