In light of the news that Cycle 8 America's Next Top Model contestant Jael Strauss spiraled downward into meth and crack addiction following her departure from the show, Cycle 7 winner CariDee English explains that even winning the show isn't what it seems.
"[Tyra] provided a wonderful platform for girls to have a chance at their dream, but after there is no 'Tyra Mail,'" she wrote in a reply to Gawker. "I had to guide myself, and even though I won a model competition I still had no idea what the modeling BUSINESS was like. I had no idea what the industry was really like. I was famous, but no one wanted to take my picture."
She says the winner of the show becomes a lightning rod for critics who can say their modeling careers haven't really panned out.
"Critics and industry love to give us all shit for not being the next big supermodel," she says. "We all have done well, and we all had to do it on our own.... I love love what I have made for myself since my win, but mentally, it's horrific. And any girl who has been on ANTM can back me up. No one wants to take us serious as models."
English says there's a big difference between reality television about the fashion industry and what the fashion industry really is.
"The fashion industry had NO idea how to market us," she says. "Our agents, our managers... We became instant celebs, but had the portfolio of a rookie model. Even though we just were named 'TOP' our place in line at Fashion World was at the bottom. The industry many times didn't care about our name, but did turn a snobby cheek to the name ANTM."