America’s Next Top Model 7: Why A.J. is not a Top Modelby Jenn Brasler -- 10/24/2006
I was surprised to see A.J. get the boot this week, especially since she was in the bottom two with Jaeda, who was at the bottom for the third time. Not only was A.J. doing well in the challenges and photo shoots - she even won one of the challenges - but the judges seemed to like her and think that she had potential. I bet they were as surprised as everyone to wind up cutting A.J. after just a handful of episodes. But is there anything she should have done differently to keep herself around? Maybe the Top Model Tips will shed some light on that.
The first tip says that the girls should be open and welcome change. As A.J. told RNO writer Phil in an interview, she never thought about coming on America’s Next Top Model before she was “discovered,” so the entire experience was new for her. But she was very open to everything that happened (except her makeover, but more on that later) and adjusted very well to the challenges and new situations she was faced with. For someone with no modeling experience, she did very well with the photo shoots, impressing the judges and winning the cobblestone-walking challenge. Like Megg, A.J. had a personality that made her embrace change and, in fact, turn it around to her favor.
The second tip tells the girls to know something about the fashion industry. So far the girls haven’t been challenged much on their knowledge of the industry, but this week they did participate in challenges that tested an aspect of modeling that they should have known about - public appearances. A.J. failed horribly at the interview challenges, getting so nervous that she broke into hives on camera on more than one occasion. She could barely get a word out when speaking with Janice Dickinson. Janice even gave her a conversation topic - A.J.’s horrible hat - but A.J.’s nerves didn’t allow her to run with it. Not only should the girls know that part of being in the fashion industry is speaking with interviewers, but they should also know it from watching the show. (Which A.J. didn’t, so that explains that.)
Tip #3 says to practice your walk. We never saw A.J. practicing her walk, but she proved that she was a natural runway star. She won the cobblestone-walking challenge, working the runway like a pro even on an uneven surface. She also did well at the panel challenge, balancing fruit on her head better than the majority of the other girls. Thanks to A.J.’s win at the cobblestone-walking challenge, she got to go to Texas and participate in a runway show, which gave her both experience and confidence. If she had stuck around longer and been able to participate in more walking challenges, she probably would have done a lot better.
The fourth tip says that personality counts. Here’s where I think A.J. really started to falter. Though A.J. had a good back story (she survived cervical cancer) and stood out among the other models, I found her personality lacking. She was hard to place - was she goth? Was she punk? Was she just an anti-conformist? A.J. was definitely her own person, but that didn’t mean she had a personality. In looks, she was one-of-a-kind, but in personality, she was hard to distinguish. Most of the girls’ personalities started to shine when they did the interviews, but A.J. did so badly with those challenges that we didn’t get to see past her nerves to find out what her personality is like.
Tip #5 tells the girls to focus on themselves, not the others. A.J. was able to do this fairly well. She didn’t seem to get involved in the Melrose/Monique drama. She also appeared to be focused on what she needed to do to get herself through specific challenges and the competition as a whole. While the others were letting Monique annoy them or letting Melrose get to them, A.J. appeared to ignore them both and focus on herself, which was exactly what she needed to do.
Tip #6 tells the girls to roll with the punches and not fight with the judges. This was another area where A.J. had trouble. When the girls received their makeovers, A.J. complained about her new cut and color - even though it wasn’t that much different from what she already had! While other girls went from blond to brunette, from brunette to blond, and from brunette to red, A.J. went from… brown to brown. And her hair was short to begin with, so her cut wasn’t a drastic change. And yet she complained and complained about it. Her idea of rolling with the punches left much to be desired.
Overall, A.J. approached the competition in a good way, focusing on the challenges and what she had to do to get through them. For someone who didn’t even think of modeling before this, she did very well and proved that she could have a career in modeling. So why didn’t she last longer? I don’t think she wanted it badly enough. If she had, she would have done even more. For example, in the celebrity couple photo shoot, A.J. basically did nothing. She barely posed as Marc Anthony; at some points, I don’t think she was even trying. If she had really wanted to become America’s Next Top Model, she would have given it her all. Instead, A.J. let an uncomfortable situation get the better of her, and instead of fighting to make the shoot work, she gave up. That’s why she’s not a Top Model.
Jenn Brasler is an Assistant Editor of Reality News Online and an aspiring writer from Falls Church, Virginia. By day she works for a court reporting firm, and by night she’s a spy for a covert branch of the CIA. You can e-mail her at email@example.com. She wonders how much longer Jaeda is going to be able to stick around.