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Bringing out the best in Caribbean models

Sunday, March 11, 2018
Wendy Fitzwilliam

During this season’s makeover episode of the Caribbean’s Next Top Model (CaribeNTM), the show’s host Miss Universe 1998 Wendy Fitzwilliam decided that in order to bring out the best in one of the contestants, they needed to give her a drastic hair cut.

The contestant in question was 23-year-old Grenadian Usha Thomas who stands at 5 feet 11 inches and weighs 150 pounds.

This decision to cut off Thomas’ hair almost caused a “revolt” by the other judges and the show’s executive team.

“Usha came to the show with a long weave and hid behind her hair. Some women hide behind their hair under the trappings of what they think long hair means.

It didn’t make her stand out and it didn’t make her blossom and I picked that up immediately. She was trying to be somebody that she was not,” Fitzwilliam told the Sunday Guardian.

“In the makeover I needed to get rid of that hair and I needed to do something dramatic to make her stand out.”

Fitzwilliam said the haircut was meant to help Thomas in her career and in life.

“I don’t do makeovers for ratings. Redoing a look for a woman is traumatic enough. I don’t need to create a story by giving a young woman a look that only works for the show and then what happens to her after,” Fitzwilliam said.

“Usha’s hair, I chopped off all of it. She was traumatised but I saw in her Grace Jones, a very androgynous look, a very attractive black woman but not your stereotypical version of what beautiful is. So for her to stand out in the fashion and beauty world she has to stand out, she can’t come in as a mousy, cutie girl because she is not that,” Fitzwilliam said.

The night after the makeover Fitzwilliam was summoned to a meeting with the show’s otherexecutive producers, judges, and the entire beauty team questioning Usha’s dramatic change.|

Fitzwilliam stood by the decision saying that Thomas reminded her of Grace Jones.

The name Grace Jones has come to the forefront again recently as a result of the ongoing Black Panther movie where the female warriors—the Dora Milaje were likened to the popular singer.

“Usha’s personality has totally blossomed” following the haircut, Fitzwilliam said.

“We should be able to play with hair, we have always played with hair, there is nothing wrong with that, but it shouldn’t define you. You should not see an afro as less than long tresses.

Hair is an accessory,” she said.

The effect of Thomas blossoming is just one example of what Fitzwilliam hopes to achieve with CaribeNTM.

Fitzwilliam’s vision is to help the region’s models and our fashion industry achieve its full potential.

“My job is to make them the best version of themselves.

Yes they may get inspiration from me, there may be things about me they like, but you have to be the best you,” Fitzwilliam said.

Be happy with who you are; not that you are greater than anyone but you are no less than anyone else,” she said.

CaribeNTM is a reality television competition which is opened to contestants from throughout the Caribbean including Suriname and Curacao.

Panama has also participated for the first time this season.

The show’s fourth season began on February 14.

The first season was won by Treveen Stewart from the Cayman Islands, while Kittisha Doyle from Grenada won the second season.

Last season was won by Shamique Simms from Jamaica. All the winners have been embedded firmly in the New York fashion industry since their victories in the competition.

None of the contestants from Trinidad and Tobago has won as yet, but Fitzwilliam said we have a strong showing this year.

This season’s winner will receive a modelling contract with Mint Model Management out of New York, a cover photo with She Caribbean Magazine as well as a
cash prize.

Season four of CaribeNTM is being shot in Jamaica.

Fitzwilliam said the music, food, and beautiful natural scenery of Jamaica will be highlighted throughout the show.

CaribeNTM’s broadcast partner and main sponsor is Flow, which show new episodes every Wednesday at 9 pm on Flow 1. Missed episodes can be seen on Flow’s Video on Demand. Caribbean Airlines is the official carrier of CaribeNTM.


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