Monday, April 11, 2011


The idea of bullies in America's Next Top Model is no strange thing. After all, in every cycle, in every model house, there is the hard girl, the cruel girl who stands independent of the others. Like Tiffany (Cycle 4), like Jade (Cycle 6), like Angelea (Cycle 14), the models make oblique references to their past to account for why they bully. Cycle 16 is no different in that Alexandria is immediately cast as the bully. From week to week, she comes across as rude, abrasive and controlling. She tries to direct the photoshoots, to which any ANTM viewer is a well-known cardinal sin. The other housemates often bitch about Alexandria, often insinuating that she needs to be on medication for her mental health. It went as far as Monique reading through her diary. Matters came to a head in the most recent episode of ANTM when it became apparent that it was no longer Alexandria who was the bully, but Brittani. Brittani's outburst during a photo-shoot challenge, her hysterical proclamations that "everyone wants you gone" and "you don't deserve to be here" made it clear that the bullied had become the bully.

What do you deserve?

I had such investment in my disdain for Alexandria that I failed to see what was really going on. Brittani, too, felt as if she was entitled to victimise Alexandria as she did. It was only when she was interrogated by Tyra and Nigel Barker at panel that she showed visible signs of remorse and embarrassment. But even through the tears and the panic attack, it was apparent that Brittani did not feel sorry for treating Alexandria as she did. Brittani only felt sorry that she "let (Alexandria) do this to her." It forced a lot of viewers to evaluate and compare the actions of both models and consider whether the bully deserved to be bullied. In spite of my initial dislike for Alexandria, I saw so much cruelty in the behaviour of not only Brittani, but in the whole model house. I saw so much ugliness, so much hypocrisy and I was disappointed to see that other YouTube viewers didn't seem to feel the same way. The majority of the commenters felt as though Brittani's bullying should have been carried out back at the house, far from the eyes and the ears of the clients.

The incident forced me to consider the ongoing battle with the bullies of my past. It all went down more than ten years ago, but I dream about them still. I dream about confronting them and shouting at them. I dream of understanding why they were so cruel and sadistic. I figure that is why it is still so relevant to me, I fail to understand what I could have done to deserve that treatment. At the same time, I am uncertain as to what effect my bitching, my snide comments had on my tormentors. I remember a number of girls who hated me so much that they couldn't even look me in the face. One girl spread a rumour that I had planned to do a "Columbine". Another girl stood with a clipboard outside her party and without looking down, she said I wasn't on the guestlist. I remember that night, but I also remember listening to the other girls talk about her. They speculated why all her hair was falling out. They speculated whether she really had an abortion.

I hated these girls, I really did. It wasn't until Top Model that I'd considered that they might have had a reason to hate me too.