This season of America’s Next Top Model (ANTM) features both guys and girls. At this point, America’s Next Top Model aired its second to last episode of the season last week and the top three models are: a heterosexual male, a heterosexual female, and a homosexual male. I am borderline obsessed with America’s Next Top Model and I was not very welcoming of the guys vs. girls edition of the show. But upon thinking more of this gender dynamic added to the show, America’s Next Top Model: Guys vs. Girls gives both guys and girls an equal standing. Allowing the two genders to compete against one another creates this discourse of gender equality. Both the male and female contestants have equal footing in becoming the next America’s next top model, neither sex dominating over the other. ANTM has also been a tool for allowing models (and people) to identify their flaws and then turn those flaws into unique (positive) qualities. ANTM has also fostered an acceptance of one’s body and has continually strove to instill confidence in its models.
But thinking back on having men on the show, does this intrusion of men in a world solely focused on women strip the women of agency? I think, given the fact that ANTM has had 19 seasons of only women models and the first season they have men models, two of them make it to the top three, yes this takes agency away from the women. ANTM has been one of the only shows that exhibit women as autonomous creatures completely in control of their bodies and that teach women how to fully exercise that control without degrading them or being violent towards them. ANTM has been a woman’s world since the shows nascence in 2003. So this addition of men, as I stated above, is an intrusion. To make matters worse, two men have placed in the top 3, thus perpetuating the stereotype that men are better than women at everything, even at their own game.
Though I am not happy about men stealing the spot light away from women in ANTM, I do think that this acceptance of men as models on the show dispels some of the gendered stereotypes of modeling. It is a means for men to be able to pursue modeling as a career with less stigmas attached to them. But my main focus is on women! This show was one of the only positive shows completely about women and now men have become the focus. The last episode of ANTM will answer the question in the advertising, “Who will dominate?” If the winner is a man, then that will support society’s inclination to side towards men and to deem male as the dominating sex. But if a woman wins, then that will show that women can still maintain some control when men intrude in their world.