America’s Next Top Model was popular when it was on the air, but since then, many people have looked back at the show and discovered it was more controversial than it seemed. Many of the photoshoots were inappropriate, offensive, dangerous, or outright foolish. Here are 25 ANTM photoshoots that were horrendous for one reason or another.
1. The “Got Milk?” Blackface Shoot (Cycle 4)
Got Milk? The America's Next Top Model photoshoot included some pretty egregious race-swapping, with white women putting on blackface and traditionally African outfits, all while holding babies. Watching this for the first time was wildly uncomfortable, and I still can’t believe they — especially Tyra Banks — let this one happen.
2. Crime Scene Victims Shoot (Cycle 8)
While the crime scene photoshoot was edgy and gothic, it was mostly just grim, gory, and insensitive. The girls were splattered with blood and posed in disturbing ways. Looking back at this, it was an insensitive and offensive challenge that could be triggering to many.
3. Homeless, but Make It Fashion Photoshoot (Cycle 10)
Another highly insensitive and offensive photoshoot, the homeless fashion shoot, featured the girls in ratty clothing holding cardboard signs asking for money, all while standing in piles of trash. This photoshoot turned homeless people into caricatures, treating them like a costume.
4. The Seven Deadly Sins Shoot in a Coffin (Cycle 4)
The concept of this photoshoot wasn’t all that bad. What left me speechless was the fact they forced a girl who had just found out her friend had died to pose in a small coffin. The judges on the show always push the girls to work through whatever is going on, but this just seems cruel.
5. Models With Eating Disorders Photoshoot (Cycle 10)
Another shoot that I can’t believe got okayed by the producers. No one in the room took a step back and said maybe this is triggering? The girls posed covered in vomit, hovering over toilets, staring at scales, and measuring their bodies.
6. The Macau Tower Photoshoot (Cycle 18)
The Macau Tower is 764 feet high, and this photoshoot took place at the tippy-top during a major windstorm. The girls were being blown around everywhere, stumbling about in their high heels and practically falling off the edge of the tower. It was horrifying to watch.
7. The Commercial With The Racist Spanish Model (Cycle 7)
Nothing was weird about the commercial itself, but watching the Spanish male model, who was hired to do this, tell Jaeda that he didn’t want to kiss her because she was black was infuriating. The worst part is the judges told her that she should’ve gotten over it.
8. The Hapa Photoshoot (Cycle 13)
The Hapa shoot was another painful example of appropriation and cringe-worthy race-swapping. The girls, no matter what race they were, were dressed up in traditional Hapa clothing, some of which were important ceremonious garments. They posed in straw fields with dark makeup, once again showcasing how horrific this show was.
9. The Shoot That Caused Hypothermia (Cycle 7)
One photoshoot, which I must admit was beautiful, took place in a freezing cold pool. While the photos were stunning, the shots were not worth the health and safety of the models. Karidee, one of the favorites from this cycle, got hypothermia from the photoshoot. Of course, the judges shamed her for not speaking up despite telling the models to push through everything.
10. The Venice Beach Kiss Commercial (Cycle 15)
The Venice Beach incident was another commercial where one of the girls was forced to do something that made her uncomfortable. One model, Kayla, confessed to being assaulted as a child, explaining she didn’t want to kiss the male model. But they made her do it anyway.
11. Michael Jackson Tribute (Cycle 17)
Another race-swapping photoshoot? Yes. Cycle 17 featured a Michael Jackson tribute photoshoot, where all the girls, regardless of race, were given a dark makeover and iconic Michael Jackson outfits. This blackface was just as cringe as the other examples.
12. Germany's Next Top Model Fish Shoot (Season 7)
Taking a break from Tyra’s twisted world, the girls in Germany’s Next Top Model season 7 had one mermaid-themed photoshoot, where they had to pose lying on top of slimy, dead fish. I have to assume this posed some kind of health risk, but it was also disgusting.
13. The Harajuku Shoot (Cycle 3)
There couldn’t possibly be any more race-swapping or appropriation, right? Wrong. The Harajuku photoshoot featured all the girls in traditional Japanese garments and makeup, as well as more modern looks. This one wasn’t as egregious as Got Milk?, but it was still unpleasant to watch.
14. The Toddler Photoshoot (Cycle 18)
Watching grown women behave like infants and toddlers was uncomfortable, to say the least. This photoshoot featured Kris, Kylie, and Kendall Jenner, with the models posing on a rocking horse in the center. It was awkward and simply too creepy.
15. Blazing Car Photoshoot (Cycle 9)
This is another photoshoot that churned out beautiful shot after beautiful shot, but at what cost? The models had to pose in the desert heat just inches away from a flaming car. Luckily, no one was hurt, but it was unnecessarily dangerous for the models.
16. The Matador Shoot (Cycle 7)
Moving on from the fiery car, the girls also had to pose in an arena with a live bull. There was an animal handler there, but you never know what a large animal like that is going to do, and it was unsafe. Friendly reminder: these ladies are not even being paid.
17. College Edition Shoot (Cycle 19)
The College Edition photoshoot featured hunky men tossing the models into the air where they would pose before coming back down and being caught. Cheerleading takes practice and can lead to severe injuries or worse when not done properly, so this one was also stupidly dangerous.
18. The Four Personalities Shoot (Cycle 8)
Honestly, the Four Personalities shoot made me cringe. It wasn’t necessarily inappropriate, but the photos were terrible and laughable. I remember thinking that they’d really dropped the ball this season when it came to creating interesting and stylish shoot concepts.
19. The Lingerie Shoot in Front of the Eiffel Tower (Cycle 4)
This shoot was one of the most awkward ones to watch, as the girls posed in Wonderbras with male models. The commercial was shot with a view of the Eiffel Tower in the back, but the photos all came out awful, and the shoot was painfully weird with all the forced intimacy.
20. The Greek Salad Photoshoot (Cycle 17)
You’re probably thinking the girls posed with a Greek salad, but no. They posed in a Greek Salad. The models were plopped into a giant bowl filled with Greek salad, writhing around in the tomatoes and cucumbers while sensually spilling olive oil on themselves. It was like a fever dream.
21. Wind Tunnel Photoshoot (Cycle 7)
The photos from this shoot are cool, but forcing these ladies into a dizzying wind tunnel when they easily could’ve used a harness was unnecessary. Watching these poor girls try to stay right side up while posing in a furious wind tunnel they’ve never experienced was upsetting.
22. The Taxidermy Shoot (Cycle 19)
For this shoot, the models focused on posing their head and face as their head was photoshopped onto taxidermy mounts like a deer or moose head. Taxidermy freaks me out, so I didn’t find this concept funny or edgy; it was just gross and disturbing.
23. The Shoot With the Jaguar (Cycle 16)
During Cycle 16, the ladies modeled faux fur clothing while cuddling with a real baby jaguar. The poor jaguar was restless the whole time, the girls were uncomfortable and scared, and the whole idea was dangerous. Once again, they should not be forcing unpaid models to work with dangerous live animals.
24. The Bats Photoshoot (Cycle 20)
This one was just hilariously bad. The models posed in drapey dresses while hanging upside down, making them look like colorful bats. The final photos are so awkward and funny that it’s hard to take this shoot seriously.
25. Political Controversies Photoshoot (Cycle 8)
The Political Controversies photoshoot is just as bad as it sounds. Each model was given a controversy, such as capital punishment, gay marriage, pro-choice versus pro-life, and more. Not only is the concept unsettling, but it’s a stupid idea, and the photos came out poorly.