There are some things in my life that are epochal and that b*tch pouring beer on Tiffany’s weave is one of them. America’s Next Top Model, currently on its twenty-fourth cycle, was and is landmark television. Even Dame Helen Mirren dyed her hair pink after watching an episode of cycle eighteen.
It’s time to explore the literary side of this cultural behemoth. From books written by the great legend herself, Tyra Banks, through to titles written by the judges and the contestants themselves, this list covers it all. Or at least a little bit of it all. Or some. Anyway, look, if you don’t read them all, it’s totally fine. It’s not as if we were rooting for you or anything…
Modelland by Tyra Banks
It’s hard to know where to begin with Modelland. Though it’s technically a young-adult novel, covering issues of body confidence and the commodification of beauty, it’s genuinely one of the strangest things I’ve ever read. The show itself recognised this when it got the contestants to do a “motion editorial” for it, which is one of the the best euphemisms for “seriously let’s just go along with the weird” that I’ve ever heard. To sum: You won’t be able to take your eyes away from Modelland. You’ll wish you could. You’ll really wish you could.
Perfect Is Boring: 10 Things My Crazy, Fierce Mama Taught Me about Beauty, Booty, and Being a Boss by Tyra Banks and Carolyn London
Due out on April 3rd, this will see Tyra and her mum “share what they’ve learned on Tyra’s journey from insecure preteen to supermodel and entrepreneurial powerhouse. Though she’ll be the first to tell you she is not her daughter’s best friend—’cause she ain’t that kinda mama!—there’s no doubt that Carolyn’s signature mix of pep talks and tough love got Tyra to where she is today, and here they pay it forward to empower readers with a reminder that perfect really isn’t all that.”
Unfriending My Ex: Confessions of a Social Media Addict by Kim Stoltz
Once a contestant on cycle five and now banking mogul, Kim Stoltz has been on quite the ride. This Kindle-only publication examines the pressures of social media and anonymises the people involved by giving them Beverly Hills 90210 pseudonyms. Truly, she’s followed the advice that “Once you plant seeds of success, your tree will bear fierce fruit.” (TM: Tyra)
A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty and Power Really Look Like by Ashley Graham and Rebecca Paley
Though there’s a discussion to be had here about the fact that the fact that “standards” of beauty aren’t a madly helpful concept, it can’t be denied that Ashley Graham is a remarkable and welcome voice in that discussion. This collection of essays offers “support for every woman coming to terms with who she is, bolster her self-confidence, and motivates her to be her strongest, healthiest, and most beautiful self.” Which, I think, is something we can all be down with.
(Also, hey ANTM, time to get Tess Holliday in as a guest judge as well…)
No Lifeguard On Duty: The Accidental Life of the World’s First Supermodel by Janice Dickinson
It’s impossible to talk about America’s Next Top Model books without mentioning this storming autobiography from the force of nature that is Janice Dickinson. Furious, raw, honest, she writes about her traumatic childhood and life as the world’s first supermodel and she doesn’t shy away from talking about some incredibly tragic, and graphic things. Janice is a survivor, whatever the world throws at her.
Need some more reading suggestions on a similar theme? How about three YA Books with a Passion For Fashion?