Riverside’s ‘Next Top Model’

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By Anthony Whitacre

By Anthony Whitacre

The plaza was crowded, the smell of Mexican food from El Torito hung in the air; about 70 people gathered to get a chance to become the chosen one: The one who would be transformed into the Face of the Riverside Plaza.

Only that contestants were nervous upon being told only three would make the top finalists and 12 would make the runner-ups.

The participants were excited and eager to begin the competition as we huddled around the quad between Gottchalks and El Torito. Boy did that Mexican food smell good.

I had entered the event wishing to use my good looks for something. A lot of people say models are stuck up and snobby but some of the people here were really nice.

Say for example, thirteen-year-old Kaylie Davis. A young girl with wide innocent eyes and those cheeks that any grandmother would love to pinch.

“I think if I win, it’d be really fun to get my pictures taken. I’d also be proud of myself knowing that I tried if I lose,” she said.

I got a chance to talk to some of the participants as we waited for the competition to start.

“I eat, dream and sleep fashion!” said fashion enthusiast Thalia Gonzalez.

Gonzalez is currently attending La Sierra High School and has come down to the competition with her sister Anna. Both hope to make it as one of the top three finalists.

The event was organized by Christina Bratton and other committee members of the Riverside Plaza.

“We wanted to show that there is fashion here at the plaza and not just entertainment,” Bratton said.

Bratton explained that there would be a group of twelve finalists that would be used throughout the year as models and the top three finalists, one from each age group, would be used in print and televised media.

The competition was a runway show. Each contestant would get a chance to strut their stuff for the committee of judges who would be judging on looks, poise, apparel and personality.

Some of these people didn’t know how to work it. Many of them just stared at the ground as they made their way up and down the runway. Not me though. My gaze was fixed on the judges tempting them to choose me for the top three.

The rest of the competitors were nothing compared to the sexy swagger of my hips and the bounce in my step.

There were a few people who could compete with me. One of them was eighteen-year-old Natasha Bellas who did a little funky dance, she looked like a go-go dancer, at the end of the runway impressing the judges with her talent.

“I’ve had all these people complement me on my looks and I wanted to see how far I could go in the competition,” Bellas said.

Bellas made it into the top twelve along with Glen Turner who had just found out about the competition the 15 hours before it started and got lost on his way to the site.

The judges took a break to decide the outcome of the fate of the 70 people who were competing narrowing it down to 12 and then three.

When the top twelve were decided, sighs and groans were heard amongst some of the contestants who didn’t make it and they left disappointed.

Two of the top three winners were mother daughter tag team Keeley, 22, and Susie Boess, 52. The third was a guy who didn’t stick around long after the competition. He probably went off to celebrate with his family.

I sat back and watched the top three and the top 12. I was kind of glad I didn’t win but at least I got to be a part of the festivities. God knows my life is busy enough without someone always wanting to take my picture. Who knows, maybe next time.

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