I clutched my nonexistent pearls in disbelief when I heard the announcement. I thought I would never see it in my lifetime — a reality television modeling competition for women 35 and over. And one that would want “real” women and not “babes” with siliconized breasticles, Botoxized foreheads, and over-inflated sausage-like lips seemed a like fantasy far beyond the capacity of even my overactive imagination. But the great, or rather open, minds at TV Land created a show that even a jaded reality television junkie like me can love — “She’s Got the Look” (Wednesdays, 10 p.m. EST).
In the premiere episode, we are introduced to the the show’s host, supermodel Kim Alexis (holding up rather well, thank you) and the judges: Wilhelmenia Models President Sean Patterson (previously from the VH1 series, “The Agency” ; stylist to the stars Robert Verdi (His face will be familiar, even if his name isn’t.); and supermodel Beverly Johnson (Gurl is looking just a bit drag queenish. Why do all of my black divas of a certain age have to be so over the top?).
Casting calls were held in the usual urban centers and hopefuls walked the runway to stand in front other judges to be assessed for not only their physical beauty but for that special something that will appeal to women of all ages. Words like “friendlier beauty” and “depth of character” were used.
Most were serious contenders, stunners who have managed to turn back the hands of time. But it wouldn’t be a competition show without some classless acts primed and ready to show their asses. There was Ernestine, 59, dressed in an animal print jumpsuit, contorting her body in all kinds of unsavory ways, who thought that dropping it like it was a hot was a standard modeling pose. And there was a woman, whose name I chose to forget, sporting a blond frizzy mullet and looking as near death as anyone could without going all the way, said her best feature was her eyes and legs. Finally, a rather attractive woman, told the judges she was “transforming physically, morally and spiritually.” Please read again, if you didn’t get it the first time. She said, “transforming physically“. Read: transgender – male to female.
Thankfully, the nonsense was kept to a minimum and 20 semi-finalists were selected and flown to New York where they had to participate in an impromptu photo shoot in which they had 30 minutes to “put together their best look” from what they had in their luggage. After the shoot, the 20 stood before the judges who evaluated their photos and at the conclusion, the 20 became the 10 who will be living together and competing for the grand prizes: a Wilhelmenia modeling contract and a photo spread in Self magazine.
Of the 10 finalists, here two of my favorites:
Hope, 35 Hometown; New York, NY – She’s a cutie with a fiesty personality to boot. The mother of three, who stands at only 5′ 5 1/2″, short by model standards, wowed the judges with effervesant quality and honesty. When asked about her deepest darkest secret, she replied that she liked very young men. When asked how young, she said “18”. (Get out! Glad you like them legal girl.) Judge Robert Verdi also put her to the test and asked what was the most expensive item she had stolen. Her answer: a fur coat. (I guess in her mind it was go big or stay at home.) It was clear from Verdi’s response that he thought she rocked. And when it came time to do the photo shot, little mama put it down better than the broads with longer limbs. The little engine that can, Hope, gives hope to the rest of us short stacks (myself included) who dare to stand tall among giants.
Bahia Hometown: Beverly Hills, CA – What a beautiful classy woman. She’s from France, and prior to the competition, had lost 35 lbs. You couldn’t tell by looking at her. A Muslim woman, Bahia says she was “trained to control her beauty.” Her story is one many of us are familiar with — be small, better yet, be invisible, in order to fit societal norms. I can’t wait to see Bahia let her light shine. And I can’t wait to bask in it’s glow.
What can I say? If you are wondering if she’s (they’ve) got the look, you’re damn right she (they) do.