Walking, talking and looking good -- Tyra's a triple threat.

Where's This Couch We Keep Hearing About?

I headed to The Galleria on Saturday to check out the casting call for America's Next Top Model. I wanted to see what Houston had to offer to Tyra and why these girls thought they should be the next Whatever the Last Girl's Name Was Who Won.

I arrived that afternoon and was greeted by a line of ladies. It began on the third floor and spiraled its way down to the first. Each girl was given a number and told to place it up high on her chest. They were then corralled around the floors of the mega-mall by security guards who reminded them to stay in numerical order. Finally, after at least five hours of waiting, groups of girls were escorted into a private room to answer a few questions and have their picture taken for records. This image furthers my belief that reality shows are the holocaust of television.

I started my rounds asking girls why they wanted to be a top model and what they would do if they won. I had a vague idea of the type of responses I would hear and expected that many of these girls were looking for acceptance by the only judge that really matters: the entertainment industry.

I first met Amber, who delivers pizza for Mr. Gatti's. She was a sweet, tall, blonde number who might have had a shot. I asked her "Why do you want to be on Top Model?

"To gain respect from my father. To show him that I can actually do something and, like, follow through with it."

That's understandable, right? I mean many kids strive to prove to their parents that they can make something of themselves, but then she went on: "He's always the one who was, like 'You're too fat.'"

I can only imagine the conversation between this poor girl and her father if she returned home after not making it:

Dad: Did you make it?

Amber: No.

Dad: Told you so, fatty.

Low self-esteem seemed to be the name of the game at the Top Model auditions. Stephany, a 19-year-old teaching assistant, said she wanted to win because it would give her "better self confidence, better self esteem." Well, if she doesn't make it, I hope she finds a rich, hot boyfriend, because other than being a top model, that's the only other thing that I can think of to make me feel good about myself.

Anika, a 26-year-old history teacher, reminded the girls around her that they should have self-confidence regardless of judgment. Her words of wisdom? "Beauty is within and it's also on the outside." She wanted everyone to remember, "you don't need someone else to tell you 'Oh, you're pretty.'" You know, like the producers for a show whose premise is to determine who is the prettiest out of a group of girls who were thought to be prettier than thousands of others who auditioned.

Tegan, an 18-year-old gal from Shreveport, said she was always picked on as a kid for being tall and skinny, which is why she turned to modeling. "This is like something that you kind of have to be that way. So, I feel like I belong, you know?" Yes, I do. And now I finally I understand why girls become porn stars, too.

By the way, if Tegan is selected to be a top model she said she would use her status to start an agency that would seek out all the other poor tall, skinny girls in small towns, to let them know they could be "good at something." Besides not being fat, I guess.

Margaret, a child care provider, gave three of the best reasons for wanting to be a top model: "I've always liked fashion and I've always liked walking on runways and I'm tall."

Man, is that all it takes? Well, that's a good thing, because 19-year-old Lynell said she prefers the catwalk duty, next to any other part of the modeling job.

"I'm more of a walker, than more photogenic," Lynell said.

Isn't this like twins going to a Wrigley's commercial and saying something like, "We can handle riding a bicycle built for two, however that whole chewing gum at the same time thing may prove to be a problem." However, I'll bet this put at ease many talented walkers who worried they weren't as pretty as the girl in front of them.

One thing seemed to save these girls from totally setting back the female race: kindness. Tomika, a 21-year-old who was trying out for her second time, wanted me to know that there was no animosity amongst the girls in line.

"There's no need to have a bad attitude, if you need a lip gloss, if you need my comb, you can use it," Tomika said. At least these girls would have something to take away, if not a spot on Top Model: friendship, and possibly head lice.

Oh, and there will no doubt be a lot feedback that might attack me for being an ugly, jealous girl who is just out to make pretty girls feel bad about themselves, but that's not true. See. -- Dusti Rhodes

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