So. Much. Smizing.
🎶You wanna be on top🎶
As an aimless adolescent, I would spend entire Saturdays binge-watching seasons of “America’s Next Top Model” on VH1. I was sure that one day, despite my below-average height, I too would have the opportunity to compete for prizes like “go-sees” by dressing up like a giraffe for a shoot with “world-renowned photographer Gilles Bensimone.”
While my 7th grade dreams may have not come true, I’m now a grownup with the power to make shit happen. So, I became my very own Make-A-Wish and roped my co-workers into recreating low-rent versions of our favorite ANTM looks. With a $100 budget and some light Photoshopping, we proved that anyone can be on top.
Cycle 13 Episode 5: Or as I call it, “Trapped In A Mosquito Net”
On the left we have Bianca from the episode “Take My Photo, Tyra!” because, you guessed it, Tyra took their photos. Viewers might remember this cycle as the season of short girls, where all contestants managed to be beautiful despite being under 5′ 7″ (gasp!).
On the right we have Hannah Poindexter, a Michigan native with no previous modeling experience, but a bevy of published articles about ways to eat an avocado. To recreate this look, we basically just stuck a sheer scarf over Hannah’s head and used a utility fan as a wind machine. Genius.
Total cost: $9
Cycle 3 Episode 4: Or as I call it, “What Spider On My Face?”
On the left is Eva Pigford, the cycle 3 champion (spoiler!). We all remember this episode as the one where “Diva Eva” faced her lifelong fear of spiders and cried (very gracefully, in my opinion). Despite her minor freakout, she went on to win the challenge and the whole shebang.
On the right is Sara Driscoll, the sassy Chicagoan who taught us all the value of flirting with boys on the train. For this ANTM-meets-Fear-Factor look, we bought a rubber spider and some costume jewelry. And no, we had no idea the spider would be that big when we ordered it online. Big ups to Sara for acting like that huge rubber tarantula was totally weightless and no trouble at all to hold up with one hand.
Total cost: $27 (that spider was pricey)
Cycle 7 Episode 2: Or as I call it, “This Bird Just Died Here”
The model on the left is Cycle 7’s Michelle, best known as one of the gangly Babin twins. Although her sister Amanda had more modeling experience and seemed to want it more, Michelle had the natural smize that stole our hearts. I mean, just look at how she owns that nutso wig.
The model on the right is Dose’s very own Julianne Ishler, best known for keeping the rest of us dweebs “fresh AF.” To recreate this high-fashion bird’s nest, we got a rainbow costume wig, some children’s face paint, and one of those hyper-realistic craft birds you see at Michael’s and think, “but why?” Add a few bobby pins, a sassy side-eye and voilà! They even kind of look alike.
Total cost: $16
Cycle 10 Episode 5: Or as I call it, “Mmm, Paint”
The look on the left is modeled by Fatima, a Somali-born contestant with a pre-med degree from Bryn Mawr. The judges loved Fatima’s face in this shot but gave her waaay too much flack for not shaving her armpits. So, for our recreation, we asked that our model not shave either.
The look on the right is modeled by Dominic Trombino, our handsomely hairy pal who doesn’t want your pity. All we needed was some non-toxic washable paint and a willing participant to drip it on. I must say, I think we nailed it. Tyra would be proud.
Total cost: $6
Cycle 2 Episode 11: Or as I call it, “Safety Is Sexy”
Yoanna House. Winner of cycle 2 and my heart. She looked like Natalie Imbruglia’s twin sister and was just so above the bullshit of the show. And do you guys remember when she hosted “The Look For Less?” The Style Network may rest in peace, but Yoanna lives on forever.
Paige Moomey. Writer of such essential stories as How To DIY Your Own Braid Hawk and Millennial Slang Terms Explained By My Mom. Clearly this was not a challenge. Paige is basically already a supermodel, so we just slapped on some red lipstick and a bicycle helmet, both of which she already owned. This could be in next month’s Vogue.
Total cost: Nothing
Cycle 12 Episode 6: Or as I call it, “But I’m A Kindergarten Teacher”
On the left we have cycle winner Teyona in the episode “Here’s Your Test.” You might remember this episode as the one where we dealt with the backlash from Celia THROWING TAHLIA UNDER THE BUS at panel because she said, in private, that she was unsure of her career path as a model. Jeez Louise, can’t a girl express a little doubt?
On the right we have Justine Figueroa, our resident beauty expert who really, really hated high school gym. We thought this recreation would be a goofy face-paint-gone-wrong situation, but it turned out crazy gorgeous. JUST LOOK AT THAT FACE! She will be tweeting Tyra ASAP.
Total cost: 8 mustard packets
Cycle 6 Episode 8: Or as I call it, “The Girl Who Cried Contact Solution”
Do you guys remember Joanie? She’s the one who, at the show’s request, had her Jewel-esque smile turned into Chiclet-y veneers. This shoot happened the day after her major dental surgery, so these tears were probably real.
Do you guys remember Justine? She’s the one from the last photo. If you can’t get enough of her, check out her piece on yoga + anxiety. We tried to make Justine cry with sad stories and insults but she was not having it. So we doused her in contact solution and told her to “look like you have a headache and you’re bummed about it.”
Total cost: Half a bottle of contact solution
Cycle 4 Episode 9: Or as I call it, “Crocodile RoC”
On the left is cycle 4 runner-up Kahlen, posing as a Lubriderm-selling springbok. The week before, her high school friend died?—?yet she still posed in a coffin (!!) for the seven deadly sins shoot. In the world of ANTM that was deemed brave, but now it just seems fucked up. Let the girl go home for a funeral, Tyra!
On the right is yours truly. Pretty much the whole reason I pitched this story was so that I could pose with an alligator pool toy. It turns out that costume springbok horns are very hard to find, so we settled for giraffe ears. I’m waiting by the phone, Lubriderm.
Total cost: $23
Cycle 6 Episode 2: Or as I call it, “Bald Is Beautiful”
On the left is Gina, who was best known for losing her shit over a cockroach. She didn’t last long, but she definitely rocked the dead-eyed mannequin look.
On the right is our Senior Editor Erin Klabunde, best known for correcting our poor spelling and being a good sport about wearing a bald cap. We only used stick-on gems, an inexpertly applied bald cap, and a touch of Photoshop to recreate this look. Shout out to our graphic designer Ines for the transformation.
Total cost: $20
You’re All In The Running To Become America’s Next Top Model
We started this project expecting to laugh at our failed attempts to recreate professional photo shoots. The side-by-side looks were fully expected to be ridiculous sight gags. But, with a little creativity and a relentless commitment to dumb, they turned out kind of awesome.
We all have plenty of “OMG we should totally do that” ideas that pass us by every day, but we held onto this one and made it happen. We just…did it. Sometimes, the only difference between success and failure is actually ordering a blow-up alligator.
To show you just how easy it is, here’s a behind the scenes look at our “process.”
Here’s our highly scientific method of getting that windswept look
Creating Dom’s paint-kissed look with a plastic spoon
When in doubt, pop the hip
Mustard vapors in your eyes kinda hurts
Eye drops + derp face = realistic tears
Love your product