Danielle Brooks’ plus size critique of ‘Top Model’ is spot on
I’ll confess, I’ve been anticipating watching the new “America’s Next Top Model” reboot for a few weeks now. When I saw that the first curvy model to grace the cover of the coveted Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue — my girl Ashley Graham — was one of the judges, I couldn’t wait to see what other amazing body image boundaries we’d see broken throughout the season.
After all, AMNTM gave us our first transgender model contestant, Isis King, back in 2009. Chantelle Brown-Young, aka Winnie Harlow, who appeared in Beyonce’s Lemonade, was also discovered on the modeling competition series. Harlow was the first contestant with vitiligo, a condition that causes loss or lack of pigmentation in the skin. And who could forget Season 9 fan favorite and current plus-size model Toccara Jones?
ANTM has definitely had some groundbreaking moments. So given the fact that we are in the middle of the most outward-facing body positive movement in recent history, I just knew that ANTM would be breaking all types of size and body image boundaries this season.
Well, I was wrong.
Apparently, I wasn’t the only person that was shocked and disappointed by the continued lack of visibility for curvy and plus-size women in the modeling industry — and on the first season of the supposedly fresh and re-imagined ANTM reboot.
Yup, you read that right. There isn’t one curvy woman among the finalists, which means there will be none all season. It’s disappointing to say the least.
Equally disappointed actress Danielle Brooks, who is quite the body image boundary breaker herself, has been very vocal about her frustrations around the show’s lack of body diversity.
The actress, known for her role as Taystee in the Netflix original series “Orange Is the New Black,” has been an advocate for curvy girls around the world ever since the show’s debut. Her leading Instagram hashtag #VoiceofTheCurves, along with her full embrace of her own curvy body on social media, is incredibly inspiring.
She’s easily one of the busiest women in the business of acting these days. She’s been on double duty managing not only a TV career on OITNB but also simultaneously a stage career on Broadway in The Color Purple.
On Tuesday, Ms. Brooks took a few moments out of her busy schedule to let ANTM have it and further explain why it makes zero sense that curvy women aren’t being represented on this supposedly fresh take on ANTM.
“This 1% thing is real. The world really disregards plus size. Watched #ANTM and not one contestant was plus, hell, not even a size 6 or 8,” Brooks tweeted.
She continued: “for the 67% of women who are plus size. #seethe67 I can’t tell you how upsetting it was to watch #antm and how many seasons has it been now?”
This 1% thing is real. The world really disregards plus size. Watched #ANTM and not one contestant was plus, hell, not even a size 6 or 8.
— Danielle Brooks (@thedanieb) December 13, 2016
— Danielle Brooks (@thedanieb) December 13, 2016
Brooks later gave ANTM a full read via Instagram, stating, “As a plus woman, being seen only 1 percent 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.”
[This is not a bashing of any sort but an observation that wouldn’t allow me to hold my ? ] 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?? 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. All these things still would’ve moved us forward, and would’ve done more than me posting an IG post. Regardless, 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. ✌?️? #seethe67 #voiceofthecurves
And all I can say is she’s completely right. We aren’t the only women feeling very let down by the decision to once again pretend like curvy girls don’t exist, especially when most women in these United States of America are, yup you guessed it, plus size! (aka the invisible majority).
Most American women are plus-size but make up less than 2 percent of the images we see. #The67Percent and the body positive movement, in general, exist to change that. And we’ve come a mighty long way. But clearly ANTM shows us we still have a long way to go.
For those out there who may argue that ANTM already did the curvy thing with past contestants Toccora or Whitney Thompson, it’s important to understand that it’s not just a “curvy thing” or a viral moment in time.
Body positivity is a reflection of the women in this country. It’s basically us looking in the mirror and finally realizing there is nothing wrong with us because we don’t look like the girls in magazines or runways. There is, however, something very wrong with all of the women in magazines not looking like us.
RaVal “V” Davis is the go to girl for all things body positive and feminine. She is a published writer who has penned pieces for The Huffington Post, Essence, EBONY and VIBE, among others. Keep up with her at RaValDavis.com.