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'America's Next Top Model': And the winner is...

May 14, 2008 |  9:46 pm

The times, they are a changin'.  America now has its first official plus-sized/full-figured/whatever you want to call it Top Model. Curvier girls who felt awful about themselves yesterday can hold their heads high today.  Actually, all things considered, especially in light of Tyra Banks' previous ham-handed attempts to handle weight issues on her talk show, Whitney's status wasn't as exploited as much as it might have been, especially since Tyra all but said that she liked Fatima because she was a victim. 

The "Top Model" finale was not very different from previous finales. Anya, Fatima and Whitney were all shot for a Cover Girl commercial and spread, one that didn't look as all-American and smiley as it has in the past.  While on the commercial Fatima rushed her lines and Whitney displayed what Paulina Porizkova described as "fakeness," Anya stumbled over her lines but displayed natural Cover Girl Charm.  However, the judges felt her picture failed in comparison to Whitney's (although it could be argued that all three photos looked the same).  Fatima was eliminated. 

It was revealed that the remaining girls would walk in a Versace fashion show, which made one wonder how Donatella would feel about a plus-sized model, but the designer never appeared. Anya and Whitney stomped down the runway only twice, both wearing similar vacant, open-mouthed expressions, although the judges deemed Anya's walk a failure and Whitney's a success.

While Whitney certainly is beautiful, Anya seemed to have been a darling of the judges throughout the competition: she was unconventionally good-looking, high-fashion, easy to work with and pleasant.  "Whitney's the girl you want in the bedroom and Anya's the one you buy the dress from," was Paulina's thought. 

The judges didn't explain why they chose Whitney over Anya, so cynics may just assume they decided to toss it to the plus-sized girl for once.  Whitney talked briefly about how winning this made her feel validated after so many years of being judged, something she hadn't discussed too much on the show and thus seemed somewhat shoehorned-in (and it's interesting to see that she hasn't always been a plus-sized model--scroll down in the post to see pictures of a much more svelte version of her.)

The lesson we learned tonight is that you can overcome anything in this world -- being a refugee, wearing a size larger than a 4 -- as long as you are incredibly beautiful. 

Stay tuned for an ANTM chat Thursday at 2 p.m. PST at chat.latimes.com and an interview with Whitney to appear here on Show Tracker on Friday!

--Claire Zulkey

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