Disabled Models: A UK Reality TV Hit

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Disabled Models: A UK Reality TV Hit

Post  izzy on Mon Jul 07, 2008 1:02 am

Disabled Models: A UK Reality TV Hit
Friday, Jul. 04, 2008
By WILLIAM LEE ADAMS / LONDON


Contestants with disabilities in the new BBC program, Britain's Missing Top Model.


Aspiring model Debbie van der Putten loves her body, and she isn't afraid to show it off. The 22-year old from Helmond in the Netherlands has appeared on posters throughout Europe for charity groups, worked for a German modeling agency and recently posed nude for Playboy. While Van der Putten's chiseled stomach and striking gaze make her easy on the eyes, she hasn't exactly got the classic model's physique: three years ago, following a bus accident, doctors amputated her right arm. "I wanted to show the Netherlands that you can be beautiful, sexy and disabled," she says. "After my accident I hated mirrors. But now I love them."

Van der Putten has come to terms with her disability and made inroads into modeling. But can she help change the fashion world's conception of physical beauty? The BBC explores that idea in Britain's Missing Top Model, a new reality TV series in which Van der Putten and seven other disabled women compete for the chance to win a four-page photo spread in the U.K. edition of Marie Claire magazine. "Disabled girls are sick of being excluded from society," says Marie O'Riordan, the magazine's editor, who also serves as a judge on the program. "This show tries to shake the industry up a bit."

In that effort, the show has brought together would-be models who also include a deaf woman, a paraplegic and a contestant with a prosthetic leg all of whom take part in competitions such as posing as 1950s pin-up girls and strutting (or, in some cases, wheeling themselves) down the catwalk. Photographers call out their best advice "Work the eyes! Sexy!" and industry experts such as Jonathan Phang, the agent who discovered Naomi Campbell, toughen the girls up in preparation for the notoriously fickle world of fashion. When a wheelchair-bound contestant has a flashback to her dancing days and breaks down in tears, Phang rushes her back to a runway training session: "The team is waiting," he says. "We'll cry later."

The controversial program already has the makings of a hit. The series premiere on July 1 drew half a million viewers in the U.K., driving BBC Three ratings up by 25% for the 9 p.m. time slot. That popularity will doubtless spur more debate over the show and its impact. Liz Carr, a comic who uses a wheelchair and hosts a BBC radio show on disability called Ouch!, applauds the series for presenting disabled women as beautiful and sexual, as opposed to broken and damaged. Still, she questions if reality TV is the proper platform to confront stereotypes. "I'm not sure that seeing disabled women prance around in lingerie and having their bodies objectified is the best way to change representation," she says.

True to reality TV form, the eight women live together in a crowded London penthouse, and, as the competition heats up, their claws come out. But their conflicts and insecurities, which often revolve around their disabilities, often reflect issues within the disabled community. Sophie, a 23-year old paraplegic and art student, resents the deaf contestants because they lack an obvious physical impairment. "As soon as she has the interpreter there, she's the same as any able-bodied person," she says of Kellie, a former Miss Deaf U.K. The deaf contestants have cause for their own resentment. When rushing to a 'go-see' modelspeak for a job interview the other contestants neglect to tell the two deaf mutes, who are nearly left behind.

The show isn't just about teaching the contestants to model: it strives to change the views of photographers and fashion editors as well. Disabilities don't necessarily detract from a photo shoot, says Phang, the contestants' on-air mentor. "With girls missing limbs, you just have to position them in a different way," he says. In some cases, disabilities even turn into strengths. According to Phang, the focus and concentration that a deaf girl needs to read lips and sign makes her "far more alert than most models."

Noticeably missing from the winner's prize package is a guaranteed contract from a top modeling agency, as offered on the CW's America's Next Top Model, the most popular TV modeling competition in the world; instead, London-based Take 2 Model Management has agreed to "consider" representing the winner. Those involved with the show remain realistic about the pace the modeling industry might change. "I don't think there's suddenly going to be a flood of disabled girls modeling," says O'Riordan.

But in a competition that requires courage as much as beauty, that may be beside the point. In episode three, five women perform in a fashion show alongside working models. Jenny, an American with partial paralysis stemming from a car accident, cannot physically balance in stilettos and struggles to control her limbs. Despite laughs in the audience, she mounts the runway. She braves three passes, her limbs shaking, and strikes her fiercest pose. She is beautiful.

-The source is taken from time.com
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izzy

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My commentary on the disabled models...

Post  izzy on Mon Jul 07, 2008 1:58 am

As a fan of one of the world's most watched shows, CW's America's Next Top Model, I was quite amused after reading this article.Why? Firstly, I do not believe in the idea of having models who are handicapped. Can they even coordinate their body movements and strut their stuff and all? I mean, we all know that a so-called "normal" model must be tall,flawless and, what's more, have a good physique. Strange enough, there are really disabled models who exist.Hmm.... cyclops

In good terms or bad terms, Britain's Missing Top Model has definitely change the audiences' perspectives about the stereotypes that people like me once had (before reading the article above) on models. The show gives people realization and an open-mind that we should accept ourself and others for who we really are. I know many of us will always complain that "life is always unfair". Come on! Chill people. If we are optimistic about our life and the situation we are going through, our journey towards whatever we are dreaming/aiming for may eventually come true.Maybe that will be the reality of your very own fairy-tale huh? geek

We must have a positive mind, just like Debbie van der Putten, the contestant from Britain's Missing Top Model, who claimed that "she loves her body, and she isn't afraid to show it off". Wow! The fact is, we have to accept with what God has given us and make full use out of it.But of course, everything that we worked for must be paid off with hard work.

The show also teaches people out there that we have to DREAM BIG in order to get what we want. Therefore, I felt that it gives inspiration to us that we must not be afraid to achieve what we want, not only in the aspect of model/media industry but also in other areas such as your academic, career and of course, your self-image and who you want to be.

Well...what I can say now is...will S'pore air this show please?I'm desperate to watch this...Maybe I'll just watch online later. lol!

So friends, please remember you people are beautiful the way you are, okay! =)

Adios Amigos!
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Passerby

Post  Ana on Tue Jul 08, 2008 9:12 pm

Hi!!This is a very interesting article! It shows us Britain's effort to eradicate or reduce prejudice and discrimination the society has against the physically disabled. They seem to have reach this goal as seen from the high viewership rate but do people watch the show just to change their mindsets against this group of people? No. People watch it as they find it new and interesting. They want to see and maybe compare the difference between a 'normal' person and a disaled person. They are indirectly laughing at them Thus, the show may change the view of a few audiences but majority of the people are stil bias towards them. Thus, the stigmatization continues.
Also, it is good that Britain is trying to change the mindset of beauty. Maybe they have learnt their lesson from the anorexic trend among teenagers.
This article could be used to show how media could be put into good use and also whether prejudice and discrimination in societies could be removed totally.
Overall, great choice of article. Okay, that's all I've got to say, got to continue walking... Razz
Seeya!! queen

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Re: Disabled Models: A UK Reality TV Hit

Post  ~*~ Amirah ~*~ on Wed Jul 09, 2008 12:19 am

Ana wrote:Hi!!This is a very interesting article! It shows us Britain's effort to eradicate or reduce prejudice and discrimination the society has against the physically disabled. They seem to have reach this goal as seen from the high viewership rate but do people watch the show just to change their mindsets against this group of people? No. People watch it as they find it new and interesting. They want to see and maybe compare the difference between a 'normal' person and a disaled person. They are indirectly laughing at them Thus, the show may change the view of a few audiences but majority of the people are stil bias towards them. Thus, the stigmatization continues.
Also, it is good that Britain is trying to change the mindset of beauty. Maybe they have learnt their lesson from the anorexic trend among teenagers.
This article could be used to show how media could be put into good use and also whether prejudice and discrimination in societies could be removed totally.
Overall, great choice of article. Okay, that's all I've got to say, got to continue walking... Razz
Seeya!! queen

OMG! Who sia this 'PASSERBY'??????? affraid
Razz
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Passerby

Post  Ana on Wed Jul 09, 2008 10:17 pm

Hey, stop it ah. albino

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review

Post  tzuhui on Sun Jul 13, 2008 2:08 am

Wow! yay! i am the first to post my review! Very Happy (ok maybe second behind ana but she doesn't count right? She's not in group 4..) tongue hmm, so apparently our group's name is 4? lol! It so doesn't fit king , i mean we should at least be group 6 since we have 6 ppl.. scratch
ok, enough nonsense on with the review.



I feel that this show is an insult to disabled people everywhere. Beauty shows and modeling contests have always been about being the most poised, the most elegant, the most charismatic, the most determined, the most... The key word here, seems to be the word "most". It seems like such a small word but it actually means being number one, number one through stepping on other contestant's failures. Sure, breeding competition among sports, fields of science and technology etc. is fine, in fact, it helps people to push forward, reach new heights, push pass boundaries but
competitions in appearances can only spell disaster.

Beauty is a fad that has changed tremendously through the years, varying across country's divides. More often than not, it involves mutilation of the natural human body to attain the "perfect" human figure. From beauty represented by small and dainty feet in ancient China and grossly extended necks in India to more recently in this century, becoming walking bamboo poles. Through such superficial competitions, women, and sometimes even men, feel an even greater need to go through extreme measures, like high risk surgeries, to even be able to fit in with society. With incresing competitions, perfection seems to be everywhere, everybody seems to be perfect but you. How then, can we even walk around with an inch away from perfection?

Sure, some would argue that such competitions would help disable people gain confidence, help society "get used to" disabled people but is this really the way we want society to perceive the disabled? As equally superficial as "normal" people? I should think not. These shows sole purpose is to gain viewership. they will pick and point and draw out the contestants' disabilities instead of showing them to the world as equals. The way i see it, they are no more than a Hollywood version of a freak show, dragged right out from a circus. Dig deep, imagine, do you really want society's already discriminating eyes to be further colored by a shade or despise?



Wow, this sure is a long review, i am pooped Sleep
Peace out! afro
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Re: Disabled Models: A UK Reality TV Hit

Post  Xavier on Sun Jul 13, 2008 9:46 pm

Reading this article brought about two interesting perspectives, first is the idea which Tzu Hui mentioned about the show being an insult to disabled people. In our society today,beauty has various definitions, like in Africa,fat woman are beautiful so it is also in various countries. However, with shows such as Tyra Bank's America's Next Top Model and Heidi Klum's Project Runway,it is difficult to contend with the notion of beauty in disability. These shows for one, with the widespread reach of the media being tapped into help shape our concept of beauty in one way or another. Thus, the road for beauty in disabled models and the ability to be a model remains to be seen.

However,there is another perspective which considers the fresh impact that this show brings to us. People all around the world seek new stuff every day of their lives,be it new models of phones,new political leaders,new sports stars,new entertainment sources, humans are driven to pursue the uncharted territory.In this case, the "difference" of this show as compared to the ones we see on television is what is pulling the numbers and making the show a instant hit. Although,there is the thought of making money through this avenue,this show in my opinion will further a greater cause,the possible acceptance of the less fortunate.

One giant step towards this goal has been taken,through the creation of a program like this,aspiring disabled people can rise up in society and show that what the normal people can do,they can do or do it better. Jonathan Phang,the mentor of these disabled models in the show notes qualities such as deaf people being more alert to the surroundings which set them apart from the norm. Qualities of great perseverance and courage can inspire people like you and me to look on the brighter side of life.

In any case,disabled models are no less capable than their able-bodied counterparts and there is a possible hope for these group of people to function,just like normal people.
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Re: Disabled Models: A UK Reality TV Hit

Post  Rain on Tue Jul 15, 2008 12:50 am

Everyone has a dream of their own, and they should have the right to pursue what they want. Regardless of what kind of disability they have, we should give them a chance to flaunt their talent. This might in turn serves as a confidence boost to their low morale due to their disabilities. For example, in the case of Singapore, singer Chen Weilian has made a mark in the singing industry despite his inability to see. The reality show might be a good opportunity to inspire the uninspired, encourage the people who are feeling low or even change some of the mindsets of certain people.

However, the Media is a powerful connection tool to the world. It exposes information to all parts of the world, gathering a vast array of different viewpoints across the globe. There are definitely people who would be compassionate towards the disabled models featuring the show, but there would also be people that would criticize them. We cannot expect everyone to feel the same way. Some people would just find the show disgusting. I feel that ultimately, it all comes down to the disabled models if they are willing to accept the criticisms that they are inevitably going to face. Moreover, they should have the right to pursue their passion despite their disability.

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