“Do you understand how serious this is? This is Top Model – elevated,” Tyra Banks emphasized to the finalists on Wednesday’s show, referring to cycle 15’s superior prizes, including a spread in Italian Vogue, and the presence of big-name designers like Robert Cavalli.
Despite its heavily promoted “elevated” status, the Top Model finale competition pretty much remained the same. Finalists Ann (whose super-slim, 6-ft., 2-in.-tall frame was the subject of controversy) and Chelsey (the blonde, gap-toothed beauty with modeling experience) had to do a print-ad photo shoot for Cover Girl, film a commercial for the cosmetics giant and walk a runway show for Just Cavalli. Then, as usual, Tyra took her time critiquing the ladies’ work and announcing the winner.
“Oh my god!” Ann said, bursting into tears after hearing Tyra call out her name and seeing her winning photo displayed at the final judging.
Much was made about Ann’s unusual figure and her awkward appearance. Being so tall and so thin made her the subject of taunting and staring during adolescence, she had said, but it proved an asset in photo shoots. Early in the competition, she even won five best photos in a row, a feat never before accomplished in 14 cycles of Top Model.
“I’m so honored right now,” Ann, 18, said, “[after hearing] all those comments about being too tall or just being not normal.”
Ann’s unique look may have helped in photo shoots but in interviews, commercials and go-sees it worked against the painfully shy student. Meanwhile, Chelsey, 22, was a more well-rounded contestant who won challenges aplenty.
“I’m really upset. I feel cheated,” Chelsey said. “I feel like I have the whole package, what it takes to be America’s Next Top Model and I don’t think Ann does.”
Tyra’s advice to Chelsey was to prove the judges wrong – something she vowed to do.
Ann, however, was basking in the moment. “I’m so happy that I can make my parents proud,” she said. “I won! I can’t believe any of this right now.”
When asked by Tyra what the kids who taunted her will think now, Ann said, “They’re going to look back and be like, I should have been so nice to that girl.”