NAITSA’s Next Top Model has started up again, with photo shoots wrapping up the weekend of Feb. 7 and 8. Student contestants are given the opportunity to participate in a vibrant competition to showcase some of NAIT’s bravest students. They start off the contest by participating in an industry workshop, where they practise all the skills necessary to be a model and to get pointers from industry professionals. Next, students went through a full photo shoot, which wrapped up on Sunday. Photographers captured each contestant’s unique image for the contest.
The true bulk of the competition follows after the photo shoot, when NAIT students are given the opportunity to vote online for their favourite models. Three rounds of voting narrow down the contestants as the grand finale approaches. The contest wraps up with a gala where contestants celebrate their achievements and other students get to enjoy the pageantry of the competition.
However, as students compete for the title of NAITSA’s Next Top Model, there are some questions about whether the Students’ Association is moving a little too close for comfort to a controversial issue. There are some who would claim that a fashion show is not only in poor taste but that it objectifies women as well.
Well first, let’s clear the air a bit with some background on the event. This year’s edition of Next Top Model is the fifth time NAITSA has held the event on campus. NAITSA’s Event Co-ordinator Michelle Goulet explains, “Our intention with this project is to just get people out of their comfort zones, try something new, meet some new people and try something super different on campus.”
It pits students against students on the basis of style and presentation, with the winner chosen by popular student vote. Contrary to what some may believe, the contest is not limited to members of the fairer sex. In fact, both men and women can compete in NAITSA’s next top model, which has made for some close competition in past years.
Now, the format of the competition itself doesn’t compare to the risqué fashion shown on TV – in fact, you are likely to see more revealing clothing walking through Kingsway Mall on your average weekend. So how does NAITSA respond to criticism that the event might be objectifying women? As Goulet explains, “It’s open to all, males and females. It’s not like a beauty contest objectifying women – we’re not making them do anything inappropriate. It’s more about showing who you are.”
In the end, it is difficult to predict or control how others perceive activities like NAITSA’s Next Top Model. In a country as diverse as Canada, there are bound to be differing opinions on what is permissible. In the end though, what matters is the experience.
“Many students come out of the competition saying that the event has exceeded their expectations,” Goulet said.
Students interested in learning more about NAITSA’s Next Top Model contest are encouraged to visit the NAITSA office for more information. Voting runs online from February 23 to March 9.
By Nicolas Brown