Life Lessons from America’s Next Top Model

Chapter, Fashionably Light

Aug 13 2013

Gold Tape

Life Lessons from America's Next Top ModelAmerica’s Next Top Model used to be a guilty pleasure, but now I love it guilt-free, loud and proud. ANTM is motivation and education. The fashion industry is freaking competitive, and whether that’s your thing or not, Tyra is one heck of a role model and a teacher. Yes this show is ca-razy at times, but I’ve learned a lot by watching. Such as…

Fashion ain’t frivolous.

From an early age, clothes fascinated me, but I was too ashamed to admit it. My misconception of fashion was On Wednesdays We Wear Pink, and my misconception of models was bimbos in bikinis. Man was I wrong. The fashion world is full of intelligent, hard-working, and uber creative artists. Respect.

Confidence counts

Stand up straight [in massive heels]. Articulate. Go for it. Whether on a photo shoot or speaking to the judges at Panel, shine with confidence and you will impress.

Life Lessons from America's Next Top Model

Don’t be afraid to look silly.

There’s always that girl who slips in because she’s physically stunning, but sticks to the same boring, safe poses, and can’t seem to go forward. Take risks, even if it means you might look silly. Lisa D’Amato won All-Stars, and she’s probably the most notoriously silly contestant ever. Rockin it.

Don’t be afraid to look ugly.

High fashion = ugly pretty. “Interesting” > “perfect”.

Making excuses is not a good idea.

Puh-leeze. No one cares. Hearing contestants whine, complain, and make excuses makes me hear just how annoying excuses sound on someone’s lips. Accept criticism politely and quietly. Rarely does an excuse make things better, usually it makes things worse. Unprofesh!

Life Lessons from America's Next Top Model

Elongate and look tall.

Often models get criticised for looking too short, no matter what height they are. And when the judges point this out, I can see it! Don’t get me wrong, I have short girl pride, but I’m also a huge fan of living [and photographing] to your full potential. So extend that neck, work those angles, and stand tall.

Thrive on criticism.

I will always remember how finalist Laura Kirkpatrick begged for “brutally honest” feedback during a photo shoot to make sure she could do her best. Don’t shy away from criticism – be thankful for it, and get as much as you can!

Life Lessons from America's Next Top Model

Do your homework.

Remember when the Cycle 7 girls had to shoot a commercial in Spanish? Melrose Bickerstaff stayed up until she had her lines down, and she was the only one with not only a non-awkward commercial, but an awesome one. Be prepared, earn some confidence points, and breeze through.

Short hair frames the face.

After watching tear-stained girl after girl cut off her long locks for a pixie cut I was converted – the Afters rocked the socks off the Befores. The explanation, that long hair is a mane to hide behind, while short hair shows off the cheekbones ‘n such, is empowering [and there’s less to shampoo, but that’s beside the point]. Even if you do have long hair, slick it back every now and then for some confident, full-facial edginess.

Life Lessons from America's Next Top Model

Be your weird fabulous self.

I was shocked and super pleased to hear that doe-eyed blood-obsessed artsy geek Allison Harvard was one of the most popular contestants in an audience-feedback runway show of All-Stars. I adore her, her cuteness, and her kindness. In the song-writing challenge Allison struggled, but refused to fake it, and it paid off. She eventually wrote a true-to-herself song that blew the competition away, and mesmorised guest rapper Game.

Know your angles.

It’s sad how many people hate getting their picture taken, or think that they look ugly in every shot. If this is you [and it was me until recently!], make like Cycle 20’s Renee and figure out your angles. Mastering this earned her a perfect 10 from Tyra and bumped her up four places in the rankings. So stand in front of the mirror and practice. Know how to position everything from your head to those awkward limbs, and you’ll be less camera-shy I promise.

Every moment counts.

1. because it’s all on camera, and 2. because your time is limited. Be on your best behaviour because you never know who’s watching. Work your butt off today because tomorrow you could be sent home. A little pressure can be a good thing.

Life Lessons from America's Next Top Model

Your past is behind you, your future is ahead of you – keep going!

When your name gets called in the bottom two, chances are you’re next to go. Not Analeigh Tipton. She put in extra hustle and ended up placing third, beasting challenges, winning photos at the top of the pile, and totally owning a flawless CoverGirl ad. It is so hard to pick yourself up from feelings of failure but she is one fabulous reminder that It Can Be Done.

Don’t pick fights.

It’s immature, it stresses you out, and it gives you a bad rep. Also be aware that you might be picking a fight by accident. So like, think before you speak, especially in a house full of stressed out model wanna-be’s.

Life Lessons from America's Next Top Model

When given a free makeover styled by experts including Tyra Banks, deal with it and be grateful.

Nuff said.


Smile with yo eyes. Doesn’t it make sense that people look better in photos when they’re attentive, engaged, and smiling [with eyes. mouth. whatever.]? Smize when the camera’s on you, but also smize when you’re listening – you might feel present but might not look it.

Life Lessons from America's Next Top Model

Any more I should add? Cycle 20 is in full swing, and with guys in the picture I’m predicting a whole slew of new Life Lessons. I’m taking notes, Tyra!

miss xandra bee

P.S. More on being your weird fabulous self, in which I dress strangely.

Images from the ANTM Facebook page

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