Creator Tyra Banks and company tossed the rule book that stated contestants on The CW network's reality show had to be at least 5 feet, 7 inches tall to compete. This season that is the maximum height for competitors.
By modeling standards the ladies still in the running to be, "America's Next Top Model," are dwarfs. Although, by fashion standards, most would look down on the average American women, who is a tad shy of 5 feet, 4 inches tall, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
Certainly, it was time to give the vertically challenged their due. But StyleList wondered, would these aspiring models careers' have long legs once their reality experience wraps in November?
We turned to Top Model's flamboyant runway coach, judge and former model, Miss J. Alexander, to catwalk us through the short season. He spoke with us from Paris, where he lives and is promoting his new book, "Follow the Model."
StyleList: We've seen "Top Model" embrace plus-size girls. Why was it important to devote an entire season to women of shorter stature?
J. Alexander: Because you have so many girls who are not 6 feet tall and on the runway, but are beautiful and can sell beauty products and face cream and mascara just as well. And you don't need to be a glamazon to sell beauty.
SL: What did you learn from the cast about the possibilities for shorter models? Will they be able to rise to the demands and expectations the fashion world may ultimately impose on them?
JA: Dealing with Tyra and (fashion photographer and judge) Nigel Barker and myself what do you think? They learned many valuable lessons on how they could make their size work to their advantage. Some did rise to the challenge and some did not live up to "Top Model" standards which require change, determination and hard work.
JA: Well not necessarily better, but a tall person with grace and confidence in designer clothes is very powerful to the eye on the runway.
SL: In the season's early episodes, a lot of time was devoted to teaching the contestants how to stretch their bodies to appear taller. If the message was short is okay, why did they need to stretch?
JA: Think of a high collar or necklace and the shoulders -- inward and neck sunken down - for me it reads insecure. The opposite -- shoulders back and neck in a relaxed position -- reads secure. Even if you are not really feeling confident it is important to look as if you feel that way. Remember, we are in the fashion business and it's all smoke and mirrors.
SL: Do you think these models really have a place in the fashion world or should they give up their dreams?
JA: There is a place for girls in this cycle and every cycle after. It may not be on all of the catwalks but a commercial career can be great. And you don't need to be 6-foot-10 to sell face cream.
SL: We know you can't give anything away, but how does the winner of "America's Next Top Model," epitomize what you wanted to achieve for shorter beauties?
JA: What did I want to achieve? I guess the right girl for the job.
SL: So in short, did you get the right girl?
JA: You know we did!
(Our tip for the short: Wear great, high-heeled shoes on the days when you want to look and feel tall. There are dozens of 'em this fall.)