Wrestling, But Not With the Lord
This week on ‘America’s Next Top Model’
What do you do if you’re in the middle of a catfight between modeltestants Lexie and Kacey, who’ve been feuding since the first episode of the season? If you’re Liz, who had just informed us that she had been living in a homeless shelter when she was pregnant with her daughter, you get all up in Kacey’s grill, forcing The CW’s bleeper to work overtime. And if you’re Esther Petrack, the modern Orthodox modeltestant, you sit on the bed and patiently raise your hand until you’re called on. Which you’re not.
Oh Esther, you’re not in Maimonides anymore.
In last week’s recap, I wrote that I admired Esther for staying out of petty model wannabe fights, and this hand-raising incident endeared her to me even more. She seems younger than her cohorts, though they all fall into the same 18-21 age range. She laughs easily and goofily at the things she says and does, which includes a stumble during this week’s runway task, yet she quickly recovers and gives a sheepish smile.
The others don’t find the catwalk challenge any easier, since this week, the runway is moving. They are clad in Hervé Leroux dresses and incredibly high heels and sent down a conveyor belt. Each model is followed by a male counterpart, who gets to wear flat, rubber-soled shoes. Unlike the “Fallen Angel” shoot where the guys’ presence made sense—they had a part in the narrative and the girls interacted with them—their participation in this runway show seems to serve no purpose other than to demonstrate that it is easier to walk on a conveyor belt in sneakers than it is in heels. Ah, so that’s why I never see women jogging in their Christian Louboutin heels at the gym!
Ann, winner of the past three photo challenges, takes a tumble down the moving runway. Liz, who is wearing one of the longer dresses, notes, “I’d rather have natural labor again.” I feel ya, Liz: I also hate running on the treadmill. (I play my music really loud so I can’t hear my footfall, which sounds to me like the pitter-patter of death.)
Kacey wins the challenge, and punctuates her triumph with a piercing scream that causes her fellow competitors to look at her askance. Later, at judging panel, she wears a shirt that reads “I Heart Me.” Clearly she’s been reading, How to Lose Reality Show Friends and Look 20 Years Older very closely. (Is she really 20 years old? Can we sic the Birther movement on this?)
The photo challenge this week is about wrestling. The girls, clothed in the finest torn fishnets, heels, punk-colored hair extensions, and ’80s eye makeup, are paired with luchadores (Mexican masked wrestlers). Our girl Esther seems particularly at ease in the ring with Shamu Jr. (whose caption reads, “not really a whale”), pulling him across the mat by the spandex straps on his unitard. Perhaps she had done something similar late one night at Camp Ramah? Or maybe it was the photographers that made her feel comfortable—father-son duo and certified MOTs Moshe and Eddie Brakha.
One or two of the other girls complains about their “in your face” style (read: Israeli pushiness), but Esther takes their direction well. And even though we never see it on camera, I’d like to believe that Esther, Eddie, and Moshe got around to playing at least a brief game of Jewish Geography. They must know some of the same people.
Ann, on the other hand, doesn’t take the Brakhas’ negative feedback too well and bursts into tears after the shoot and again during the judging panel. But her breakdown is ultimately judged in her favor: She wins for the fourth straight time.
Esther’s photo is also judged favorably. Karolina Kurkova, supermodel, house nutritionist (she taught them how to make smoothies), and guest judge of the week, picks Esther’s as her favorite picture, and Nigel Barker says, “She is translating in picture, which is what a model needs to do.” So in addition to being fluent in English, Hebrew, and French, Esther can also communicate in sado-masochism.
Princeton Jane, who in many ways is Esther’s counterpart in restrained behavior—she also doesn’t trash the other contestants—and Lexie end up in the bottom two. Jane is given the reprieve and Lexie is sent packing.
The model home will surely be a bit quieter with Lexie gone; maybe someone will finally call on Esther.