Maybe it's because I still go on and on about how Cycle 1's Elyse was robbed. Or maybe it's because I can point to at least half a dozen photos that were worse than the Pisces shot of Cycle 4's Lluvy, which was dubbed "Worst Picture Ever." Or maybe it's because I turn red with outrage over the way Tyra Banks told contestants out of one side of her mouth to be proud of what makes them unique, then out the other, warned Cycle 6's Danielle to fix the beloved gap between her front teeth or else. But for some reason — pick whichever one you prefer — I've come to be thought of as something of an expert on America's Next Top Model. As such, I guess I am as qualified as anyone, and perhaps more qualified than most, to weed out from Cycle 9's raw recruits the five who have the best chance of going all the way. Herewith, my picks:
For her: The 20-year-old "bikini dancer" says she's "seen every kind of hurt," and though Tyra Banks inexplicably cut the fragile but fierce Marvita, by and large, she does love a good sob story.
Against her: Her look is a little bland. But the makeover episode should take care of that.
For her: She's Barbie without the boobs — in other words, the perfect hanger for designer clothes. She's also confident enough for three girls.
Against her: She's confident enough for three girls. Miss Tyra likes her girls to have self-esteem, sure, but she also likes to be the one to instill it in them.
For her: She's the complete Top Model package — she has a sob story (she's mildly autistic), she's awkward as hell ("I have a hump," she announces, "that you get from leaning over computers"), and the camera loves her.
Against her: She may be beyond even Mr. Jay and Miss J's help. When she is face-to-face with the trio for the first time, she attempts to make a joke by saying, "Hey, pretty lady... and Tyra."
For her: She's as gawky as Heather — "I have the fashion sense of a 12-year-old boy," she admits — but is smart enough not to diss her benefactor. (Let's hear it for a Yale education, ladies and gentlemen!)
Against her: If the camera loves Heather, it's ambivalent about Victoria. Even Miss J notes with a whinny that she's a bit donkey-faced.
For her: She's only too delighted to christen herself a bitch. "I call Heather 'Hunchback,'" she cracks. But this 20-year-old daughter of a crack addict has a soft side, and for Tyra, the combo of tough outer shell and mushy underside is catnip.
Against her: At a glance, she doesn't impress. But, as Tyra suggests, maybe that'll change after she gets "a high-fashion ass-whuppin'."
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