It’s another beautiful May Sunday here in Germany. As I mentioned in my travel blog, I was hoping Bill and I could go do some really fun stuff this holiday weekend. But, thanks to a lack of planning and general laziness, together with raging allergic symptoms, we’ve kind of stuck close to home. It has been kind of a busy weekend in other ways, though. Bill and his daughter have been talking a lot, mainly because the youngest grandchild has just turned one year old.
We’ve been learning more about younger daughter’s college years and escape from Ex. Every time I hear more about what happened during that time period, I’m flabbergasted anew. I sense that younger daughter doesn’t want us to feel badly for her, nor does she consider herself a victim. I find that a very refreshing and admirable attitude to take. However, it still shocks me to hear about the challenges she faced during that time period. I do think a lot of her blessings came from being involved in her church, where people are encouraged to help each other. That’s one of a few things I do like about the LDS church. I especially find it funny that church people helped younger daughter so much, since Ex used the church as a parental alienation tool against Bill.
Anyway, as we were reacting to some of the revelations last night, I found myself trying to explain my reactions. I reiterated that I don’t think of younger daughter as a victim. I think she is incredibly resilient and resourceful. I just find it regrettable that it was more important for Ex to be hateful to Bill than do what was right for their daughters. Younger daughter didn’t have to go through what she did. Bill would have been so happy to help her. It would have been an honor for him to set her up for success at school. But Ex not only didn’t want to allow him to help their kids, she didn’t even want her kids to help themselves. I think she meant for her kids to all stay in her home, and those who try to flee the nest get punished.
It became clear as younger daughter was talking that Ex didn’t expect her kids to have ANY money of their own. At the time younger daughter was applying to school, Ex didn’t know that younger daughter had some money socked away, and she used it to pay the application fee for college and have her transcripts sent to her school of choice. She had just $80 of her own money— at age 18, no less. And she used it for higher education. Ex had not wanted her to go to school away from home and when she found out what younger daughter did, she got VERY angry with her. I think she was angry, not just because she’d applied to college (imagine being a mother upset about THAT), but because she’d secretly had the money in the first place!
I mentioned that I didn’t think Ex wanted her daughters to have money because money equals power. And, as I was talking, I explained… “Bill wanted very much to help you. He just didn’t want Ex to be part of it, because Ex always has to be part of the deal.” And then, before I knew it, I blurted out, “Your mom is a total psycho.”
And then I apologized… because “psycho” really isn’t the best word for what Ex is, at least not when I’m talking to Bill’s daughter. I didn’t want to offend younger daughter, either. But then it became pretty clear that she wasn’t offended by that comment.
I did explain at the end of our session that I am not the most politically correct person. I often speak my mind, sometimes out of turn. Often, I piss people off because I don’t tend to hold back on what I’m thinking, and sometimes I use language that would make a sailor blush. But… at least you know that what you get is what you see… as the great Tina Turner once sang.
Once again, I am absolutely floored by how forgiving and kind younger daughter is. She doesn’t seem to have a drop of anger or bitterness in her. I’m sure it’s there somewhere, but I have yet to see it. I find that amazing… and very admirable. Maybe she has much to teach me. But anyway, she says that there are always people who have it worse. That’s true, but it doesn’t negate what she dealt with back in the day. She shouldn’t have had to struggle like that.
I’ll try to be a little more circumspect… or thoughtful about what I say. I suspect younger daughter’s husband, if he heard that comment, probably thought it was funny, though. I think he and I can commiserate about a lot of things. I don’t envy his position, when he has to deal with his mother-in-law. She is a challenge… or maybe she’s more like a trial. Whatever she is, one thing’s for certain. She is a psycho, and that is the truth.
The featured photo was taken May 10, 2002… the day I earned dual master’s degrees in social work and public health. Fair warning about this post… it’s probably going to come across as rude and offensive to some readers, because I’m “processing” again. Read with caution after the first two paragraphs. 😉
I am a little disappointed in myself today. It’s already almost 11:00 AM and I’m still sitting here in my nightie, listening to an old Conway Twitty song, and typing a blog post. I had such big plans for the holiday weekend. There are so many places around Wiesbaden that we haven’t yet explored. But we’re not doing that right now, because while we were having breakfast, Bill complained about how “shaggy” his hair is. And looking at it, I had to agree, his look was missing a certain sharpness. It had been awhile since his last haircut. I can cut his hair, but I don’t do as good of a job as the barber does.
So Bill went off to get a trim, and I’ve been migrating more music to my newer computer. I’ve been a bit surprised this morning. I had no idea how much Ella Fitzgerald I had in my collection– well over 700 songs! Ella was born in Newport News, Virginia, which is right next to where I was born, in Hampton, Virginia. I think that’s kind of cool. She was such a wonderful singer. I can’t say she’s one of my idols, but I sure do admire her a lot.
So anyway, it’s been awhile since I last upbraided my husband’s ex wife. She’s been pretty quiet lately, and I’ve had other things on my mind. I was actually thinking that maybe she decided to get off social media, but nope. She’s back on Twitter. And I couldn’t help but notice that, once again, she’s showing off her false persona to the masses. This time, she’s acting like a social worker.
Someone on Twitter was lamenting about being 45 years old and having to take care of both of her aging parents. The original poster shared a photo of herself looking really tired, yet still quite beautiful. She posted that she was having to take care of mother’s most intimate needs and is now exhausted.
Ex, in her attempt to fool everyone with her fake caring facade, posted this…
You absolutely must get home health care immediately or you will lose your sanity from lack of proper rest. I know you love them… but you cannot be their o my caregiver. Medicaid is another option to get assistance. Check with your local area agency and they can help, too! (she ended her advice with a couple of heart smilies)
All I can do is shake my head at this shit. Last year, she tried to get my husband’s stepmother to move in with her. I know she’s “hosted” her mother and her husband’s mother, too. And she has a “severely autistic” son, as well as two more “children” she claims are autistic and need her. Ex’s youngest child, by the way, will be 17 years old this year. But she doesn’t actually take care of any of these folks. It’s left to her adult daughters, especially to include older daughter, who will be 32 years old this year and still lives with Ex. She takes care of her brother. I get the impression that Ex just sits on her ass and watches Outlander.
Granted, I’m not there to see this in person. However, I have a pretty good idea of what goes on, because for years, I’ve heard about it from very reliable sources. I think Ex has a lot of nerve playing social worker/advocate to people on Twitter, when she doesn’t do fuck all for her own family! She just pays lip service about being there for her family. It’s a facade, and one that she only trots out to strangers. The people who actually live with her never see this kind, loving, wise side. She just tells them to figure everything out for themselves and then does her best to sabotage them and hinder their progress.
I probably wouldn’t be writing about this today, except we were reminded once again of how Ex insisted that she was the better parent and knew best… and yet my husband’s younger daughter had to find her own way to college out west. Younger daughter left home with two suitcases and nothing else. No money, no dishes of her own, no sheets for the bed… NOTHING. And if not for the intervention of a kind family from her church, she would not have been able to move out on her own. The way younger daughter tells it, the family arranged this without her input. They saw she had a need and fulfilled it. She never even asked them for that help. The fact that the family did that for her, tells me that Ex was acting in an obviously dysfunctional way in public.
Ex didn’t even want younger daughter to get a job when she was in her late teens. She did nothing to teach her about how to find work and make her own money. Instead, Ex made younger daughter get a GED, take online college courses for the financial aid (the excess of which she ripped off for herself and left younger daughter to repay), and never taught her the first thing about the world of paid employment. Learning how to earn money for one’s self is a basic life skill. Ex failed to teach it. And younger daughter frequently worked for free, doing babysitting and other jobs.
I remember back in 2006, Bill paid child support for Ex’s eldest son, who is her first husband’s child. He was an adult at the time– 18 years old. Ex was the one who had drawn up the divorce papers, and she had put in the language about Bill paying support until the kids were 22 years old, unless they met certain conditions. He paid for former stepson, but then it later became clear that the young man was just using Bill for money. Bill had planned to pay support for his daughters, too, but Ex– having seen how her son moved out with the money Bill was paying him directly– realized that would give her daughters too much autonomy. And she also knew Bill would not pay her directly anymore, once the kids were over 18. So she made it impossible for Bill to contact them, and then did her damnedest to clip their wings.
I can only sit here and shake my head in awe at younger daughter’s incredible resilience. She is a very kind and thoughtful person, and she obviously impressed people, because some folks from her church in New England helped her by “hiring” her to be a nanny in Utah. They paid for her to go on vacation with them and help with their kids– and the end of their vacation ended at just about the time school out west started. The church angels gave her some money, wished her luck, and friends helped her get from Utah to Idaho, where her college was. The whole thing was basically a ruse to free her from Ex’s clutches, so she could go to college.
Younger daughter showed up at her school with nothing to set her up for success. EX DIDN’T DO A GODDAMNED THING FOR HER OWN DAUGHTER! And she wouldn’t let Bill do anything for younger daughter, either. By that point, Ex had quit communicating with Bill and was doing her best to obliterate him from his daughters’ memories. Bill would have been there in person to buy things like sheets, dishes, and school supplies. Now, here Ex is on Twitter, playing the part of a kindly social worker for strangers, advising them on elder care and Medicaid. What complete bullshit!
I know some people will read this objectively and think Bill is at fault, too. And I wouldn’t necessarily blame them for coming to that conclusion. I wish to God Bill had never met her, let alone married and procreated with her. I wish I had been his first and only wife. I would have done so much better by his daughters. I wish we could have taken her to court and insisted on a change in custody when they were kids.
But the circumstances at the time made it seem impossible. There was no money for lawyers, nor the ability to take time off work to go to court. What sucks even more about this is that people tend to think that the parent who has custody is the better parent. It ain’t necessarily so. Bill absolutely would have been a better parent to his daughters than Ex was, because he has the capacity to love, and he genuinely cares about them. Ex only cares about herself.
I’m just glad that at least younger daughter will talk to Bill now. I’m glad he can help her now. Wish her older sister would get out on her own instead of giving her best years to her mother, doing the household chores, and taking care of Ex’s youngest kid.
It blows my mind that Ex feels so free offering kindly advice to people on Twitter, when she won’t even help her own children take care of their most basic needs. She didn’t even teach them the most basic life skills, like how to earn money. Like it or not, people need money to live. But Ex didn’t want her kids to have money, because money equals power… including the power to walk away. Thank God there were good people in the LDS church (which was another one of Ex’s ideas) who saw what was happening and were moved to help younger daughter.
This is narcissism. Ex could be the poster child for it.
I just needed to get that out. Maybe it’s not appropriate for me to be writing about this, but it really does gall me, and this is how I process it. I truly don’t care if what I write is embarrassing to Ex. Abusers thrive in secrecy. I suppose some of Ex’s egregious bullshit is down to legitimate mental illness. However, I think she knows very well that her conduct is wrong… because she doesn’t show the ugly side of herself to the masses. Her public persona is not what the people closest to her see.
You know, I realize that I’m not the most likable person myself, but at least what you see is what you get. I would not blame younger daughter for being extremely bitter, and yet she somehow manages to stay kind and genuinely caring. She’s like Bill in so many ways.
Sigh… rant over. I probably should go read my latest book for some new subject matter. If you managed to read this and maintain some objectivity, thank you for putting forth the effort. I appreciate it.
In a recent blog post, I mentioned that I was reading Jay Manuel’s 2020 novel, The Wig, The Bitch, & The Meltdown. In that post, I wrote that I understood and appreciated what Jay Manuel was doing with his first novel. He was processing trauma by turning it into a fun fictionalized read. I’ve done the same thing on multiple occasions, so I already had a warm feeling about Manuel’s debut into fiction.
I also can’t stand Tyra Banks, even though I watched her reality show for years. My devotion to America’s Next Top Model was less about idolizing a retired supermodel than watching a trainwreck. I don’t actually care much about fashion, and those who have seen me in person can attest to that. I just find narcissists fascinating, even if I want to keep them at an arm’s length. ANTM was chock full of narcissists, and its resident Queen Bee, Tyra Banks, was the most toxic of them all… as far as I can tell, anyway. Obviously, I’ve never met Tyra in person, but I have heard what she says and observed how she behaves. She makes my N chimes ring even louder than Meghan Markle does.
I downloaded Jay Manuel’s satirical novel about reality TV modeling competitions back in January 2022. I decided to read the book when I started watching episodes of ANTM while Bill was away in Bavaria. As I watched ANTM and cringed, I read up on Jay Manuel and his now non-existent relationship with Tyra Banks. I remembered that they once used to be friends. What happened?
Well… Jay wrote his book, and that sure didn’t help their friendship. But there was a lot that led up to the book being written, and having been around a lot of narcissists myself, I spotted all of the red flags in The Wig, The Bitch, & The Meltdown. Clearly Mr. Manuel had loads of experiences and incidents to fuel his creativity when he penned his novel. If only a fraction of the crazy in this novel has any basis in truth, Jay Manuel went through Hell to birth this book. And the price of writing the book was losing his “friends” from ANTM, as it was reported that Tyra Banks was angry about the novel. She allegedly asked people from ANTM not to interact with Jay, or help promote the book. Apparently, people from ANTM value relationships with Tyra enough to grant her request/demand.
I can understand why Tyra Banks would be upset about Jay Manuel’s novel. The novel is clearly based on Jay Manuel’s relationship with her and others from ANTM, even though the book is fiction. I’m sure she sees him as disloyal, and narcissists can’t abide disloyalty. Moreover, Jay Manuel really took the piss out of Tyra, including plots that were obviously based on things that actually happened on the show. The end result, for a reader like me, is pure entertainment and occasional laugh out loud moments. Obviously, Tyra Banks doesn’t want to be laughed at, and even though she’s made a lot of money and become very powerful in the entertainment business, she doesn’t want to be upstaged in any way.
Jay Manuel is still not as powerful as Tyra is– or was– (like Donald Trump, she seems to have lost some of her popularity). However, writing this book probably boosted his prestige. I was definitely impressed by the imagination and creativity he showed in his novel. There’s a good reason why Jay Manuel was the creative director on ANTM for so many years. On the other hand, a lot of what he writes was obviously inspired by crazy stuff that actually happened on the show.
So… on with the plot…
Pablo Michaels (Jay’s alter ego) is the silver haired, silver eyed creative director of a reality show called Model Muse. It’s a rip off of America’s Next Top Model, set in the present. I mention that the novel is set in the present because Manuel mentions a lot of technology that didn’t exist when ANTM started in 2003, or even when it finally ended in 2018. He seems particularly wedded to Apple products, as he mentions them a lot in the book.
Pablo is not naturally silver eyed or silver haired. This is a look that the supermodel he works for, Keisha Kash (Kash is perhaps a play on the last name, Banks?), wants him to look that way. Pablo and Keisha met when they were both a lot less famous, and they were friends. Over the years, they had shared a lot of pints of Dulce de Leche ice cream. Pablo had become Keisha’s rock, fixing things that went wrong, and always having Keisha’s back. She started her reality show, and he was the one person she trusted to be the creative director. She was right to trust him, though the job means that he never gets any time to himself, nor can he do things that he wants to do.
Pablo and Keisha work with other “legends” from the fashion industry. Noted British fashion photographer, Mason Hughes (modeled after Nigel Barker) is onhand, as is the world’s “first” supermodel, Sasha Barenson (Janice Dickinson). Miss Thing (J. Alexander– Miss J.) serves as a judge and a runway coach. Joe Vong (perhaps Ken Mok) is an executive producer. And De La Renta (perhaps Sutan and/or Christian Marc combined) is in charge of hair and makeup.
Sasha still wears a size four dress, even though she’s in her 60s. But she constantly nurses a sippy cup full of “water” that smells a lot like Chardonnay. Mason is “happily married” to a boyish looking Indian woman, although he seems to like men. Miss Thing is hilarious and witty, but also a bit catty and two-faced. Joe Vong has created many successful reality TV shows, but is completely dictatorial and manic. And De La Renta, like Pablo, seems to be one of the “good” guys who cares about the models somewhat. Keisha’s mother Brenda Paris (Tyra’s mom, Carolyn London) is in prison for trying to steal jewelry from a safe at the morgue where she worked as a photographer. Carolyn London, in real life, is a medical photographer. Tyra always presented her mother as wonderful, but in Jay’s novel, she’s a criminal.
Pablo Michaels is doing all he can to keep the show together, as Keisha and the rest of the cast misbehave in a multitude of ways, showing a complete lack of regard for those who aren’t narcissists. Pablo ties to be the voice of reason as Keisha does everything she can to make more money, become more famous, and expand her brand. Manuel really went to town on this– bringing up Tyra Banks’ memorable foray into the music business by making Keisha release a song, even though she’s tone deaf. In real life, Jay Manuel studied opera, and presumably, he can sing. I’ve heard Tyra’s song, and as a musician myself, it didn’t impress me.
Manuel also covers Tyra’s attempts at writing, as he has Keisha write a novel. Tyra also famously wrote a novel for teenagers. I have it downloaded, but I can’t seem to bring myself to read it. Maybe I’ll punish myself by reading it soon.
Throughout the book Manuel skillfully illustrates the classic ways of a malignant narcissist, to include having Keisha have a huge meltdown in panel. Tyra Banks also famously screamed at a contestant in Cycle 4, angry that the young woman wasn’t “upset” enough about being cut. The circumstances of Keisha’s meltdown are somewhat different, but the behavior he describes is the same as what all ANTM fans witnessed when they watched that episode.
More outrageous behaviors are described, and if you were a viewer of ANTM during its prime years, when Mr. Jay and Miss J. were on it, you will easily recognize some of the contestants. Manuel blends some of them into new people, including some famous and memorable statements some of them uttered during the show’s run. Some of the incidents are clearly based on things that happened on the show, but others are pretty diabolical (and hilarious) mashups based on things that a malignant narcissist supermodel might do. The part about the wig, for instance, is pretty scandalous. If you’ve ever seen one of Tyra Banks’ famously crappy makeovers, you might have a good laugh… as you also cringe in horror.
Manuel’s writing is often pretty snarky, and there’s a lot of objectionable (but believable) language in this novel. Sometimes, I wish he’d hired an editor. He misspells some words and names. For instance, he repeatedly refers to Mommie Dearest (the book and movie about Joan Crawford, written by her adoptive daughter, Christina Crawford), but he spells it Mommy Dearest. He refers to “door jams”, rather than “door jambs”. He also employs some words that are what one might call “fifty cent words”. At times, he doesn’t quite use them correctly, or he uses them when a simpler word would better suffice.
I got a kick out of how Manuel describes Keisha, who is obviously based on Tyra in almost every way. He repeatedly writes about Keisha’s “creepy” little girl voice. If you’ve seen ANTM, you know what he’s referring to, as Tyra does the same thing. He describes what she looks like, and her tendency to not like contestants who look, in any way, like her. Manuel also makes Model Muse rigged– blatantly stating that the winners were chosen long before the runway show at the end of the season. I don’t know if that’s actually how it worked on ANTM, but I’ve always suspected that the winners were ringers. What’s sad to me is that a lot of the young women, who tried out for that show, legitimately thought it would open doors for them. Although some contestants went on to form careers in entertainment, only a few became legitimate working models.
I enjoyed Jay Manuel’s book, The Wig, The Bitch, & The Meltdown. I found it a fun and entertaining read. I’ve seen a lot of people saying that Manuel isn’t much better than Tyra Banks is. I don’t know if that’s true, but he does appear to have some real talents. I think it would be pretty difficult for him to have an ego larger than Tyra’s. Moreover, while I think Tyra has some talents in terms of self-promotion, I also think she totally got off on being worshiped by the contestants on the show, even when she gave bullshit advice, contradicted herself, or cut them for ridiculous reasons. Jay, at least, seemed to have some sensitivity… and he has the excuse that he wasn’t the boss of the show. Tyra was. He was working at her behest.
I found some of the elements of Jay’s personal story– which he weaved into Pablo’s story– fascinating. Jay Manuel was born in the United States and grew up in Canada. He was adopted when he was a baby, and he puts part of that story into the book. Jay also has a very interesting racial makeup; many people think he’s Hispanic, but he’s actually got Italian, Czech, and South African ancestry and thinks of himself as Black.
I think I’d give The Wig, The Bitch, and The Meltdown four stars out of five. I don’t read a lot of novels anymore, but I legitimately enjoyed Jay’s snarkfest. I laughed out loud several times, or just exclaimed in disbelief; I think that counts for a lot. I also liked the ending. I found it very satisfying.
I’m taking off a star for the editing glitches, although I am impressed by how well-written the book is, given that Jay Manuel isn’t primarily a writer. I hope he’ll write another novel, and next time, hire an editor to give it some polish. And I hope he’s as likable in real life as he is in his writing and on television… although I’m sure those who knew him on Top Model are probably no longer sending him any emails. 😉
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Well, maybe you don’t know what that means… But many of the people who read this blog every day, follow me on Facebook. And if you follow me on Facebook, you know that I’ve been waiting all week for this day. Friday means Mr. Bill is coming home.
Bill has been looking forward to coming home as much as I’ve been waiting for him to get here. This particular business trip has been especially onerous for him, because he’s had to work overnights. He isn’t a night person at all. So I know he will be very glad to come back to the land of daylight… although it probably means he’ll have to recover all weekend.
I’m beginning to wonder if maybe it’s not time for Bill to change jobs. I think we’re both tired of the constant trips to Bavaria. But then I realize that what made this particular trip so tough is a pretty rare thing for him. Most of the business trips he does don’t require him to work overnights. He also gets paid very well to do what he does, and we aren’t in a hurry to move again. So, I guess we’ll suck it up… or, I will. Unless, of course, Bill decides he’s ready for a different position. For now, I probably should just focus on next month’s planned trip, which we are eagerly anticipating.
I haven’t been following the news much over the past few days, although I have heard some reactions to Trump’s “town hall” on CNN. Naturally, the press has been negative, as people are apparently just now waking up to the fact that Trump is a lying fascist who delights in molesting women. Some of us have known about this for years, though, and I didn’t need to sit through Trump on television to know what he is. I watched Beau of the Fifth Column’s video about the fiasco yesterday, and he pretty much called out Trump’s base…
The problem is, Donald Trump is not someone who takes direction. If he gets back in office, he will have no reason to rein in his worst impulses. It will be even more difficult to get him to leave, if he manages to survive the term. And the worst people will be championing him, which will be absolutely terrible for the country.
I’d like to think that we won’t make the same mistake twice and vote in the lying orange turd. But in 2016, I didn’t think he’d win, and he did. So I can’t relax, even though it does seem like more people have awakened to what a joke he is.
The other night, when I talked to my mom, she brought up Trump and, once again, reminded me how fortunate we are to not be in the United States right now. She said it’s really bad there. Even so, there’s a part of me that does want to go home, if only to see a few people I love. We were both happy that a jury held Trump responsible for sexually abusing and defaming E. Jean Carroll. But of course, Trump will appeal, and his base are mostly disgusting people who refuse to see what is obvious, and/or just plain don’t care.
Looks like Anderson Cooper is doing damage control…
It sickens me that Republicans… so many of whom I know are not terrible people… are going to vote for this fucking asshole. It’s absolutely outrageous. I get being conservative, but PLEASE… let’s get someone decent to run. Let’s have someone who isn’t such a liar, abuser, and wannabe dictator. And no, I don’t mean Ron DeSantis. The United States is a huge country with so many educated people, some of whom have charisma. There’s got to be SOMEONE who can be president, other than Trump. He’s just a vile, despicable turd. We don’t need to re-elect an election denying insurrectionist to the White House. Let’s drop kick this piece of crap back to Florida, where he belongs.
Anyway… there’s no sense in getting too riled up about this, since there’s nothing I can do. Best to just be glad it’s Friday, and I won’t be hanging out alone tonight. I might even fall off the wagon again. We are having a wine stand tonight in our Dorfplatz, after all.
Yea! It’s Wednesday! Two more days to go before our home “pack” is complete again, and Bill comes home. There was a time in my life when I loved having the house to myself. That was when I was a teenager, which was many years ago. 😉 I didn’t mind living alone when I was a young woman, either, because apparently I’m not the most likable person, or the greatest roommate. Scratch that. I am a pretty good roommate, but only to the right person. I’m such an oddly shaped puzzle piece that there aren’t that many “good fits” for me in the world.
Against all odds, Bill and I happen to get along beautifully. We genuinely dislike being apart when he has to travel. It’s very boring for both of us. He spends all his time working or sleeping, and I spend mine writing, reading, and watching trash TV. Then he wants to have a chat when I’m knee deep in the trash. Actually, this past week, poor Bill has been working nights, which means he gets even less sleep than usual. We haven’t had too much opportunity to chat. Most of our communication has been through very short emails of little substance. So, we’re both really looking forward to Friday, when he comes home from his latest adventure.
I mentioned yesterday, that reading Good Girls by Hadley Freeman had inspired me to watch old episodes of America’s Next Top Model. I was pretty hooked on that show when it was popular, although I didn’t watch it until Cycle 7, when I happened to channel surf past it one night. I don’t like Tyra Banks very much, even if I can easily see why she’s a famous model. Maybe she’s different offscreen, but I find her onscreen persona very off putting and narcissistic. There were times on ANTM when she acted like a complete twat (in the British sense of the word).
However, I did like a couple of other cast members. Miss J and Jay Manuel were favorites of mine. They could be dismissive and disdainful at times, but I got the sense that they were much more genuine and kind than Tyra was. And I also thought they were legitimately funny and entertaining. Tyra was just nuclear level annoying to me– although I suspect, in her case, that behavior stems from the industry she made her name in, as well as– I suspect– perhaps some family trauma. I don’t know, and I’m not saying my suspicions are true. It’s just that in my experience, people who act like that often have an abusive past, delivered by their families. (raising my own hand, here…) The fact that Tyra has spent years as a model and an entertainer means that she’s also been exposed to a lot of the same types of people– many of whom are pretty damaged.
I do think Tyra Banks is legitimately beautiful, bright, and talented, but her personality comes across to me as entitled, fake, and manipulative. Unless she’s been doing some Oscar winning acting, she has a deep and obvious need for admiration and attention. It was especially clear in some of the widely circulated clips on the Internet showing, which some of ANTM’s craziest moments over its many years on the air.
I’ve studied a lot about narcissism, and it’s obvious to me that a lot of the people who made it on Top Model also suffered from abusive, traumatic pasts that turned them a bit Machiavellian. There are only a few cycles in which it seems like fewer people are drama queens. Those cycles, which I mostly found more pleasant to watch, tended to be the ones that weren’t as highly rated. For example, I loved Cycle 13, which was the “petite” cycle– All of the women were short, like me. I got the sense that they weren’t nearly as blackhearted as some of their taller counterparts. Maybe it’s because they have more concentrated oxygen at such low heights. Kidding, of course… 😉 I am myself only about 5’2″.
So… about today’s title. It comes from Cycle 10. I had just finished watching Cycle 9, where I heard all kinds of red flag narcissism phrases like, “You don’t know who you’re messing with,” and watched Tyra be totally horrible to Ebony Morgan, a beautiful contestant who suddenly quit when she’d decided that being on the show wasn’t for her.
Ebony Morgan was clearly someone who’d had a very traumatic past, and determined that she didn’t enjoy modeling. She wisely and nobly decided to quit the show, and allow someone else to take her place. And Tyra said, “The most unattractive thing in the world to me is a quitter.” Really, Tyra? There aren’t less attractive people than that? How about child molesters? Would you put Ebony beneath someone like, say, Josh Duggar?
In that same cycle, there was a very smart “nerdy” young woman named Victoria. It was clear that Victoria had never really considered what modeling is all about. She was just very quirky and interesting looking. She came on the show and very quickly got the “bitch” edit. They had all of the contestants dress up like plants and Victoria was a cactus. At judging, she was deemed “prickly”, and when she stood up for herself, she was quickly chastised.
Anyone who ever watched ANTM remembers this gem from Cycle 4. It gets trotted out all the time as an example of how toxic this show could be. It doesn’t matter what Tiffany’s “attitude” was. Screaming at her the way she did is verbal abuse. And no, Tiffany… Tyra doesn’t care about you.
And then there was my revelation last night, as I watched Paulina Porizkova talking to the models of Cycle 10 for the very first time. I actually loved Paulina on this show. She seemed very genuine, and didn’t behave like a narcissistic twat. She came up to a beautiful blonde woman named Kimberly and said something along the lines of, “You seem to have this High School Musical thing about you, but I sense you have a dark side. And if there is a darker side of you, bring it forth.” Then, she pantomimed as if the dark spirit would come out of Kimberly, exorcist like.
Kimberly also ended up quitting the show. She claimed it was because she didn’t enjoy modeling and couldn’t see spending $500 on a pair of shorts. Some time later, Kimberly was on Tyra’s talk show, where she explained her real reasons for quitting.
Allison Kuehn was also on Cycle 10, and was eliminated early. I found her obnoxious when the show originally aired, but watching her last night was almost unbearable. She reminded me a lot of Donald Trump, especially after she got her makeover. She kept talking about how she was the most experienced and best model in the house, after she made some pretty offensive and racist comments to another contestant. When she got eliminated, she cried. It does look like Allison went back to real modeling, though, which is a credit to her, I guess.
There are so many other examples… I’ve written posts about Renee Alway, for example. I was a fan of Renee’s, in spite of her manipulative, spiteful, and envious behaviors. I thought Renee was absolutely gorgeous, and I thought she had a lot of potential on many levels. Sadly, Renee has had a lot of very serious interactions with law enforcement. She’s been in an out of prison after committing armed robberies, domestic violence, and drug crimes. There were times when Renee seemed open and vulnerable, and that made me think she wasn’t a completely black hearted person. I still don’t think she is. But she had some very serious problems that I don’t think were helped by being on America’s Next Top Model.
Likewise, Renee’s fellow cohort and sometime friend, Jael Strauss, also had severe difficulties after being on ANTM. I didn’t like Jael that much when I first saw her, but now that I’m watching again, I find her very endearing and entertaining. She seemed like a genuinely kind soul. Unfortunately, she had a terrible problem with drugs, to the point at which she appeared on Dr. Phil. And then, in December 2018, after a two month battle with inflammatory breast cancer, Jael passed away at age 34.
Angelea Preston was another contestant who, I think, got exploited on ANTM. I didn’t really care for Angelea’s appearances on three cycles of the show, although I’ve looked her up since her last appearance, and I’m impressed by how she’s recovered. Angelea has proven that she’s a survivor, and is telling her story… having “won” the All-Stars edition of the show, and then been disqualified for briefly working as an escort. After she was disqualified, Lisa D’Mato, who had been on Cycle 5, won. Lisa is also speaking out about ANTM, and Tyra has reportedly blocked her on social media.
One last person I want to mention is Jenah Doucette, who was in Cycle 9. She was a very strong competitor. I ran across a very informative Reddit thread she started, inviting people to ask her anything. It seems like she’s doing pretty well now, but she admits that she had a very hard time after being on ANTM. She says she is a recovering alcoholic, and has been through therapy. She might have been an alcoholic anyway, and she might have needed therapy anyway. However, I doubt that the experience of being on that show was very helpful to her.
I probably shouldn’t watch these old episodes of Top Model, but I’m finding them very engrossing and, I’ll admit, often entertaining. They help pass the hours before Bill gets home on Friday. And, if you’re interested in psychology, it is interesting to pay attention to the interactions among the contestants, especially so many years later.
Thanks to reading Good Girls, falling back down the “fashion rabbit hole”, and watching old episodes of Top Model, I’ve also started reading Jay Manuel’s novel, The Wig, The Bitch, & The Meltdown. I don’t read many novels anymore, but I couldn’t resist this one. I suspect the book is highly influenced by his time with Tyra Banks, who is now a former friend of his. Stay tuned for a fresh review, which I hope will come sooner, rather than later…
For now, I need to walk the dog, play guitar, and go buy some more half and half at the store. Then, I’ll probably dive back into my ANTM reruns, which do a good job of keeping me from binge watching YouTube DWI videos. So, have a happy hump day. Catch you later.
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