Whitney Thompson, Cycle 10 winner of America's Next Top Model (the first plus-size one ever!) and a model for Wilhelmina, shares her thoughts on the elimination of Cycle 16's Kasia Pilewicz.
As a fiercely real girl myself, I have heavily rooted for Kasia since the beginning of America's Next Top Model Cycle 16. Kasia was already a successful plus-size model who I felt I could look up to. As a matter of fact, Kasia is the only plus-size model on ANTM who I thought had an advantage over the other girls. Being plus means that you have to work harder, but already having a modeling portfolio and five years of modeling in NYC under your belt (she moved there in 2007) gives you a huge advantage over new models with zero experience.
At 26, Kasia had already been photographed for numerous advertisements and magazines, including the spectacular plus issue of V. I have to wonder why she even risked humiliation on national television with a career as successful as hers. I now think that it was because she understood she was getting close to her modeling expiration. Being 26 years old is really pushing it in the modeling world. The oldest girl to ever win ANTM was Yoanna at age 23. But Kasia is so exotic and fresh-faced that you would never guess her age by looking at her. I was not surprised at all that she became the only other plus model (aside from me) in ANTM history to make it out of the country.
If you’ve paid any attention to past plus models on ANTM, you will notice a theme of self-confidence. Girls like Toccarra, beautiful and confident powerhouses, come onto the show loving themselves and each week become less and less secure. Being exposed to women who are only size two throughout filming will make you forget that the average woman is a size 14 and that you aren’t actually “fat." I used to lock myself in the shower and cry because that was the only place that the cameras couldn’t film me. As a plus-size competitor, showing weakness emotionally is showing people that the industry can break you. We have to be stronger than the other girls. The fact that Kasia said that she had “problems making my body look good” during her last photo shoot was a huge red flag. As a curvy girl, it’s not about “making” your body look like anything. It’s about loving it the way it is and celebrating that. Kasia clearly allowed her self-esteem to fall throughout the competition, until she had to resort to tears on camera because of her insecurities.
During the challenge, Kasia had trouble finding clothes to fit on set. Remember, it’s not America’s Next Top Plus Model, it’s just ANTM, and the entire show is not tailored for curvy girls. This problem has happened to every successful plus model on ANTM. The only difference on my season [Cycle 12] was that I was prepared for it and chose to handle it differently. This occurred at several of our shoots and challenges, even when fitting for the Versace runway show. The two dresses I wore were literally the only two that would zip. If you have a bad reaction to not being the “right” size, the editors of the show will exploit that. They’re waiting for that moment because, let’s face it, that’s what makes for good TV. After weeks of living in a cramped space with several other crazy girls, bad food, and running on no sleep, everyone is just waiting for you to crack. I was disappointed because Kasia had no reason to feel like she wasn’t good enough. She’s effortlessly breathtaking. I also thought that the outfit she ended up in for her challenge was beautiful on her and really complimented her curves. It’s sad to see such a gorgeous girl question herself.
I know that Kasia will go far in the industry. She has already made a name for herself and she will have no problem continuing on as a successful plus model. I look forward to meeting the beauty in person and hopefully shooting together someday. I would consider it a great honor.
In addition to her thriving modeling career, Whitney also designs and sells candles and jewelry on her website ShopSupermodel.com, where a percentage of the proceeds go to the National Eating Disorder Association. You can also follow her on Twitter @WhitneyANTM.