So I swear this blog is not turning into a media coverage blog, a la Perez Hilton. I swear. OK, just one more… I promise.

I’ve never been a big fan of reality TV, but last season I became thoroughly and utterly obsessed with Project Runway. I can sit and talk about it for hours. It’s disgusting. Much further down the addiction spectrum is America’s Next Top Model — I enjoy watching it when I find it on TV, but I won’t go out of my way to watch episodes that I’ve missed. Nor do I structure my Wednesday nights around it. Unlike Runway. Ahem.

Up until this week though, this season of ANTM held my attention more than usual because of Isis, the transgendered girl who just got kicked off. I wasn’t too sad to see her go, because I thought it was a fair call — she had reached the current limits of her talent. Despite her amazing bone structure and exotic looks, her own self-consciousness over her transition meant that her beauty didn’t translate onto film.

In fact, she seemed to be more concerned with her bits and pieces than anyone else was. You could feel her withdrawing into herself on the more challenging (aka swimsuit) shoots, taking the beauty away and leaving behind only an oddly chiseled face, a too-skinny body, and a lazy eye. That did make me sad to see. Her confidence and poise had taken her this far, why did it suddenly abandon her? Did she not anticipate the swimsuit problem prior to entering the competition? Obviously not. That said, she did get as far as she did, and I give her immense kudos for that.

What impressed me even more was the way the show treated her transitional status. The other girls were fairly catty, which was to be expected. But everyone else, from the Jays to the photographers to good old Tyra, were more than accommodating and understanding of her “condition.” Of course they mentioned it almost every week, because it lent drama to the show. But when they talked to Isis about how certain situations and shoots made her feel, they did so in a very open and tolerant way, which amazed me. Even Tyra’s goodbye to her this week was extremely gracious, and contained some helpful advice for her future.

This is ANTM’s eleventh cycle. I have to wonder: would such a contestant have even been possible when it first started? Perhaps. But what about twenty years ago? Fifty? Not so long ago, the concept of a transgendered person on a hit TV show would have been completely out of the question.

So bravo to Isis, for making it there, and for sticking it out as long as she did. Even though I know she was chosen in part for the ratings, nonetheless she brought a level of depth to the contest that I really valued. She has been through things that most of those gorgeous young things should never have to imagine. A broken teapot person making it to ANTM… how about that.

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