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American Top Models

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When it comes to modelling in the United States, almost everything seems to be fixated on New York.  Many of the largest shows, including the huge New York Fashion Week, are centred in New York City.  While some modelling is done in Chicago and Los Angeles, among other cities, none of the events held in these locations is anywhere near as large as those in New York.  Prada, Gucci, Giorgio Armani, and many other huge names often hold top rated runway shows in New York, and many of the American top fashion magazines are published in the city.

American Top Models
The U.S. is known for producing a number of the world’s top models.  Some of the most well-known include Tyra Banks, Brooke Shields, Cindy Crawford, and Carmen Electra.  Many actresses are also often considered to be top models or to have supermodel type bodies, including Angelina Jolie, Liv Tyler, and Jenny McCartney.  In the U.S., the line between model and actress is often blurred, with many popular actresses being asked to model.  Also, movie and television award shows such as the Oscars and the Emmys often play out like a fashion show, with much attention paid to who designed each actress’s dress.  On the other hand, only a small number of American top models have gone on to be successful actresses. 

Many teens are entering the modelling world at younger and younger ages.  While it was somewhat unusual when Brooke Shields went from child model to adult model and actress, it is more common for young American models to continue in the industry.  Much of this is due to online modelling agencies who work with both child and adult models. 

Recent Television Success
The modelling world in the United States was mostly confined to the runways of New York and the pages of magazines like Vogue and Elle until May of 2003.  It was then that the television network UPN premiered America’s Next Top Model, a reality contest show hosted by former supermodel Tyra Banks.  Banks, who had already become a more well-known model by hosting her own talk show, also showed the models were more than just a pretty face by producing the show.

America’s Next Top Model has run for 13 cycles as of 2009, and it shows no signs of slowing down.  The basic concept of the show features 10 to 14 contestants.  Over a series of episodes ranging from 9 to 13, the contestants are given different fashion challenges or asked to be part of a photo shoot.  At the end of each episode, Banks and her panel of judges critique each model and eliminate one (sometimes two) or more of them.  At the end, one contestant is offered a modelling contract.

Prior to this popular television show, many people in America had little or no interest in the modelling world.  Many didn’t even understand the concept of a runway show or what went into a photo shoot.  As the show became more and more popular, names like photographer Nigel Barker, designer Kimora Lee Simmons, and runway coach J. Alexander have become known by many.  In addition to many of American top fashion experts, other actors and celebrities have appeared on the show, including Taye Diggs and Tia Mowry.
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Modelling and Weight Issues
Like many different modelling industries around the world, the American modelling industry has had issues with models and their weight.  There have been a number of top models who have dealt with eating disorders, and for some time, only incredibly thin women were seen on the runway and in ads.  However thanks in part to America’s Next Top Model and the advocacy of full-sized women like Tyra Banks, the modelling world has begun featuring “normal” looking girls. 

The future of the American modelling world is strong.  Even with weight controversies, especially among teen models, the industry is still doing well.  Online modelling agencies have become more and more popular as print publications become harder to break into.  However, despite all of this, there is no doubt that modelling will continue to be a popular industry in the foreseeable future.



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