'America's Next Top Model' eliminee Kasia: 'Nobody should be treated like that'
Tyra Banks is known for choosing slightly out-of-the-box models to compete for the title of "America's Next Top Model," but this season the model rainbow range of diversity has been relatively flat. That is, except for Kasia Pilewicz, the lone plus-sized member of the group, who's been making a name for "fiercely real" models like herself by doing something pretty revolutionary for the show: She doesn't really bring it up. Until this week's episode, the term "body issues" had hardly been used, unusual for a show that feasts upon the drama created by tiny insecurities. Kasia was eliminated this week after an awkward camel-centric photo shoot and some not-so-flattering editing.
"This last shoot seemed almost malicious to me," Kasia told me over the phone. "They seemed to only show clips of me between poses, so I came off super awkward. I don't appreciate it." Kasia, who struggled to find a piece that fit to do a runway challenge at designer Noureddine Amir's showroom, felt like things got uncomfortable in the dressing room. "In every other place they've had something that fit. They took very thorough and accurate measurements, and I ended up having a team of people who don't speak English trying to dress me, being disgusted. Nobody should be treated like that."
You had the most experience out of all the models. How did it help you on the show?
As far as posing and bringing emotion, I didn't get a lot of complaints about having dead eyes. I always had great emotion going. But obviously a lot of the things we did were not the kind of work I've done. The photo shoots on the show are more elaborate, which doesn't happen a lot in the real fashion world. My experience didn't necessarily prepare me, say, for walking in a bubble. I never walked a runway where I feared for my hands burning off. I'm no Hollywood stuntman.
As a whole, do you think it's easier now to be a plus-sized model on the show than when "ANTM" began?
The plus-size modeling industry as a whole has so much more exposure as opposed to even just a few years ago. Everyone has heard of a plus-sized model, and I think it's thanks in part to "ANTM" showing that it's an actual job. It's getting easier, but certain people don't accept it. You know, though, a lot of the most successful girls weren't winners. I've worked before, and this is only going to help me.
They put you through some tough shoots. What was the hardest one?
The one with bees was pretty difficult. I hate bugs. My shoot was right after lunch, so I got a fresh batch of bugs, and the beekeepers were all excited about the number of bees attracted to my face. They were buzzing on my earrings; I heard them for days. It was always the animals that were the biggest challenge. I was really allergic to the jaguar. I actually broke out in hives, though that didn't end up in the episode.
Ugh, hives? But you seemed like you were one of the contestants who never complained.
I made it a point not to. They gave us so much. So many people within the production were working [hard] for us. I thought I wasn't fit to complain.
Were Molly and Alexandria as bad as they look on camera?
Yeah. They were always complaining. Molly's aware of it; Alexandria's not. I think she's hopefully going to grow up a little bit. But it became a problem. I think it's inappropriate and rude. The biggest thing to me was when girls would treat the crew with disrespect. They know it won't be shown on camera. When someone's changing a microphone and you're being nasty to them, those are your true colors coming through.
So who should win now?
Ms. Jay. I'm starting a campaign for Ms. Jay to win Cycle 16 of "ANTM." It's about time.
— Margaret Eby
Photo: Kasia on her ill-fated photo shoot in Morocco. Credit: The CW.