A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this reality series holds beauty above all, even if host Erika Heynatz says it's much more than that. Like its Tyra Banks-hosted American equivalent, the search for Australia's uber-model pits one statuesque beauty against another in a competition that sometimes gets ugly. The women can be catty to one another, and -- no surprise for a show about modeling -- body image issues can come into play.
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What's the story?
Like its American predecessor, AUSTRALIA'S NEXT TOP MODEL, hosted by model Erika Heynatz, is a competition for a coveted modeling contract and cosmetics campaign. This means that the contestants can be feisty and forthcoming -- some openly handicap their chances against the others, others admit to personal dramas (an unsupportive boyfriend, an argument with a mother, etc.), the contestants get catty, and even an accusation of theft is made. But viewers also get the thrill of seeing the contestants prepare for a shoot, as the girls get Brazilians, prep for early calls, and get tips on how to look like they're warm when modeling bathing suits in the middle of fall. And viewers also get to see the glamorous and exciting shoot itself.
Is it any good?
Australia's Next Top Model begins with a bang -- within 10 minutes of meeting the host, all 10 finalists are asked to model on a runway, experience notwithstanding. It's a promising start -- even exhilarating -- but despite the sun-soaked locale (Sydney) and engaging accents, the series is missing an important ingredient: familiarity. America's Next Top Model viewers know its cast of characters --Tyra Banks, Janice Dickinson and later Twiggy -- but in Australia's Next Top Model, viewers get Heynatz, who seems pretty and successful enough, but she's no Tyra. Still, there are plusses: Models are actually told they're too thin, which is refreshing. The contestants also get reminders that models are much more than their looks -- that they need to sparkle and shine, personality-wise.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why modeling is attractive as a job. Does it look easy to do? What are the hidden challenges? Would it be difficult to always be expected to be beautiful and pulled together? When so much attention is placed on looks, what gets lost in the shuffle? What messages does the show send about body image? Do shows like this make girls feel bad about themselves? Parents might also want to discuss the role of makeup, lighting, airbrushing, etc. in creating the images that teens see in magazines.
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