Britain’s Missing Top Model Has No Left Forearm

The New York Times has published an extremely discomforting review of an extremely discomforting BBC TV series about eight disabled women competing to become Britain’s Missing Top Model. The show’s tagline reads: “Stylish, sassy, chic… disabled?” While I’m all for equality and acceptance in fashion, I’m going to go out on a limb and say it: this is just wrong.

On the heels of Beth Ditto’s gloriously corpulent Love cover, Pop‘s nerdy Tavi covers and Tyra’s most recent cycle of elfin ANTM contestants, BMTP sacrifices sincere heterogeneity for Shoot The Freak-style, amped-up train-wreckage masquerading as acceptance. Says Sophie, one of the show’s contestants, “I want someone to choose a girl with a really obvious, really visual, really kind of blatant disability.” Um, why? Isn’t the fashion industry predicated on glamour and fantasy and unattainable perfection? I’d personally rather not look at a one-legged runway model, just as I’d probably not seek legal counsel from a college dropout, nor would I feel comfortable having a blind doctor remove my appendix. “I can’t imagine her making a career out of modeling,” says another contestant of Sophie’s ambition. “But I could see her making a career as a role model.” Again, why? Because she is an aspiring model? Because she is acting out these aspirations on TV? Because she screams at the equivalent of Tyra mail? Without the sophistication of Diane Arbus, or the camp value of I Know Who Killed Me and Planet Terror, this whole circus seems more whack than Celebrity Rehab or that show about fat people who weigh themselves weekly for the enjoyment of middle America.

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