The problem with America’s Next Top Model invading every country in the world, aside from, well, America’s Next Top Model invading every country in the world, is that each season carries with it at least one episode with flames of controversy just begging for the Internet’s fan. Today, it’s New Zealand’s turn, where producers are in trouble for shooting a 16-year-old contestant topless in a pit of mud, save panties, nipple tape, and strategically placed mud. Apparently images of this aspiring top model of New Zealand, Michaela Steenkamp, “her body smeared with mud but with her breasts clearly shown,” was broadcast on the program, but several hours later the images were replaced with the shot you see here, in which Photoshopped fog hides her chest pretty well.
Blogger Isaac Likes followed TV3’s actions from the get-go. TV3 explained to him, “Michaela … wore adhesive covers for the mud pool shoot. We make every effort to protect the girls’ modesty and none of the girls are forced to do anything that they aren’t comfortable doing.” The station posted on Twitter, “For all those concerned about the images from last weeks [sic] episode, the girls are not naked. They have bits on their bits.”
Yeah, they’re not naked, because they have little specs of nipple tape on their boobs and rubber bands around their privates — they may as well be in full hazmat suits. While it’s understandable that the world would be disturbed and upset by images of a naked-for-all-intensive-purposes 16-year-old broadcast on New Zealand television, this isn’t an unusual thing for young fashion models to do. No matter how much America’s Next Top Model tries to make modeling seem like it’s all unicorns and loving your body and empowering from the inside out, real modeling isn’t family-friendly like that at all. That doesn’t necessarily make it okay, but since most people don’t pay attention to Purple and 10 magazines, Tyra’s Next Top Models have to take the heat.