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Next On The List Of Exploitative Reality TV … Disabled Models?

Do we really need yet another modeling reality TV show clogging the airwaves? I was seriously disturbed when I heard about BBC America’s new reality TV series, “Britain’s Missing Top Model.” The show gives disabled models a chance to compete for a spread in Marie Claire UK. The premise of the show seems cruel and unusual to the core—to boost the acceptance of disabled women in an industry that is based solely on physical perfection. Can you say “pleading for rejection and humiliation”? This merciless irony plays out in the show over and over again. A photographer says of contestant Rebecca, a 27-year-old with a prosthetic leg, “Rebecca’s disability didn’t cause me any problems. It was just the fact she’s not really in shape.” So, aside from learning to model with a prosthetic leg, Rebecca must also be crazy thin? And it gets worse. In a scene where a contestant with a stump models lacy lingerie in a store window, a young man comments, “She’s beautiful, so she’s got nothing to hide.” But a middle-aged woman adds, “But if it’s to sell something like lingerie I think people are going to be troubled.” Yep. I know I’m troubled. The question is: Why on earth would any person want to put themselves through this show? And why would I want to watch? I know we all have our own disabilities—physical and emotional—and imperfections to overcome in life and, yes, we are all capable of achieving our dreams. But modeling is not for everyone. And that’s OK. Neither is being a surgeon, a writer, or a nuclear physicist. I’m all for promoting awareness and equality, but should it mean subjecting one’s self to certain humiliation and rejection? There’s nothing encouraging about that. [New York Times]

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