America’s Next Top Model, created by Tyra Banks, is the longest running fashion reality TV series in history. After 22 seasons, the show was moved to a new network (VH1), featuring a fresh panel of judges, including singer/entrepreneur Rita Ora and plus-size model Ashley Graham.
After the first episode, some people have taken to social media to express their disappointment. Orange is New Black star Danielle Brooks, a vocal advocate for body positivity, posted a lengthy note on Instagram:
“As a plus woman being seen only 1% of the time is a real thing. Period. After watching #ANTM last night I was super excited to see my girl Ashley Graham but bummed out not to see any plus contestants. A curvy judge but no curvy contestants? 😕 Out of all 24 girls not one was plus. You had an Asian, African, a red head, transgender, an androgynous sister, even twins…(much love for that) but not 1 plus size woman-when 67% of women are plus in the US??”
She also noted:
“This could’ve been a perfect opportunity for them to highlight fabulous designers that also do plus fashion or highlight strictly plus designers that rarely get any shine. They could’ve also highlighted the struggles that come with being plus. We could’ve at least gotten to 2%. The plus competitor would’ve been able to lean on the fact that a reflection of herself (Ashley Graham) was in the room reminding her that her dream IS possible.”
Back in 2004, Toccara Jones, a finalist on season 3, signed a contract with renowned plus-size model agency Wilhelmina. Viewers supported her during the season and even after the show because they appreciated having someone that they could relate to.
Although ANTM’s cast is diverse, they failed to feature plus-size models. It was a clear opportunity to discuss this matter and how it pertains to the fashion industry.
“We are worth these incredible opportunities. We deserve to be seen. I’m going to continue to push back and speak up for that young girl that wants to model, wants to act, wants to be upfront and needs to be reminded that she is just as deserving as anyone else.” – Danielle Brooks/Instagram
Danielle Brooks and Gabourey Sidibe are the faces of Lane Bryant’s “This Body Is Made To Shine” campaign.