Ann Ward won the 15th "America's Next Top Model" on Dec. 1. She's the 6'2" model from Dallas who was the subject of controversy in the first episode of the series, when judge Miss J Alexander put his hands around her tiny waist and discovered he could touch them on either side.
Show host Tyra Banks said, "You have the smallest waist in the world! Look at that waist!" In August, when this clip was first aired, critics claimed the show was glorifying scarily skinny models, and encouraging an unhealthy body image for girls watching.
So does Ann Ward's victory mean that "America's Next Top Model" is still promoting unhealthy and unrealistic body shapes for young girls? Insofar as the entire modeling industry shows women a largely unattainable physique to strive for, yes. Otherwise, no.
Ward is naturally thin: she's over six feet tall. The show is generally conscientious about models' weight: earlier in this season of ANTM, one model, Anamaria Mirdita, was eliminated because she was extremely thin and had mentioned being on a carbohydrate-restricted diet. Concerned she may be anorexic, the judges chose to cut her because her thinness might be sending a negative message to young viewers.
Aside from the weight issue, it's important to remember that ANTM is a modeling competition. It's not all about how you look: it's about how you work what you've got, and how the camera captures that. Ward took the best pictures in the competition. During several challenges throughout the season, she won Best Photo. Her runway work was also outstanding.
Ann Ward deserved to win this "America's Next Top Model," and not because she was the thinnest; she won because she was clearly the most skilled model of the 14 contestants.