As tonight’s finale of America’s Next Top Model looms — at stake for the “lucky” winner: a year of being relegated to terrible TV spots, traveling to CoverGirl factories, and getting almost no other work — we find ourselves struggling to decide which of the three remaining model wannabes is most likely to bring it home. There’s Whitney, the first plus-size girl to make it this far; Fatima, an occasionally bitchy Somalian beauty with a heartbreaking backstory; and Anya, who gamely allowed the ANTM crew to wash her hair with peroxide, talks like a Russian surfer chick with an adenoid problem, and somehow manages to win a lot of challenges.
It’s a tight contest — even resident horndog Nigel Barker doesn’t seem to be batting his bedroom eyes at anyone in particular — but that won’t stop us from making predictions about the contestants’ chances.
Pros: She takes the best pictures (despite that cracked-out makeover), has the best walk, and hardly ever shows up to the panel dressed like a rejected Hot Topic mannequin. As a bonus, happy-go-lucky Anya offers encouragement to her competitors that — gasp! — actually seems sincere.
Cons: Her marble-mouthed accent could be incomprehensible in the finale’s commercial challenge — and might make for a very, very long cycle of “My Life As a CoverGirl” spots in which we see Anya putting on WetSlicks for her speech-therapy classes.
Odds: 2-1. Unless she totally bones the ad, Anya’s hard to deny. After all, there’s a long history of Top Model winners being scolded for their inability to speak clearly yet winning anyway (Jaslene and Danielle, anyone?).
Pros: The most physically stunning of the three, Fatima’s genuinely tragic story of genital mutilation should strike a chord with a lot of people — and not just as the subject of Tyra’s talk show, although we’re pretty sure that’s how it would start. It’s about time Top Model used its success to bring attention to issues other than the heartbreak of being forced to model in Paris when you’re 17, and Banks & Co. are too smart not to know that.
Cons: Fatima’s walk is … not good. She jukes at the end of the runway like she’s trying to dodge a tackler.
Odds: 5-1. We’ve heard complaints that she looks too much like Iman, although as far as we’re concerned, it is impossible to look too much like Iman.
Pros: She’s sexy, and she’s got kind of a sassy mouth on her, which we enjoy. Whitney’s face feels tailor-made for mainstream ads and Seventeen’s cover, and if she were to win, crowning a trailblazing plus-size model would get Tyra a nice round of body-positive publicity.
Cons: The judges tell Whitney to own her curves, get cranky when she then attempts to work her booty, and then scold her for not sticking it out far enough. Those sorts of helpful mixed messages have caused stronger front-runners to self-destruct — hell, they almost have us turning to the bottle.
Odds: 7-1. Whitney’s photos have been hit-and-miss, thanks in part to the judges’ contradictory advice (bless their lunatic souls). Still, you know Tyra has been itching to anoint a girl with curves, and frankly, we’re similarly rooting for Whitney to pull the upset — if for no other reason than to imagine the outrage from beanpole advocates like ex-judge Janice Dickinson. After all, if the show can’t produce an actual top model, the least it can do is stir up a little tabloid drama. —The Fug Girls