Movies & TV | Real Life

10 Life Lessons America’s Next Top Model Taught Us

One word—Smize! America’s Next Top Model (ANTM) began airing in May 2003, and currently has a total of 23 cycles. Creator Tyra Banks was a former supermodel, and through the series she teaches viewers many valuable lessons, not just about modeling, but about life in general. Here are the top 10 life lessons we’ve learned from ANTM and its fierce leader Tyra Banks.


Tyra is known for coining many of her own silly and unique terms throughout various seasons of ANTM. If there’s one word everyone’s guaranteed to have been taught, it’s smize. According to Ms. Banks, smize is a verb meaning “to smile with your eyes”. The queen of ANTM said she got tired of telling the girls, “smile with your eyes, smile with your eyes,” so she came up with this cool term to just get her message across in one simple word. Smizing is a great technique that can be used to help everyone take the perfect photo, whether it’s for a selfie on your social media, or an actual modeling photo.


The Only Failure Is Giving Up

There’s only one thing Tyra hates more than a person with a bad attitude, and that’s a quitter. America’s Next Top Model fans will remember when Tyra went super-berserk on Tiffany Richardson, from cycle four, after she gave up on a pronunciation challenge and took the whole thing as a joke. Tyra made it clear to her that she messed up and gave her some strong words of wisdom.

Tyra yelling at Tiffany Richardson from cycle four.

Fierce Is A Way Of Life

Tyra has been using the word fierce since cycle one, and it’s become a word to describe photos, attitudes, and poses in ANTM. A fierce photo or girl is strong, amazing, and exudes confidence. To Tyra, being fierce is a way of life, and it’s something she preaches in every cycle of ANTM.

CariDee's fierce photo.

Don’t Cry Over A Makeover

The makeover episodes of ANTM are almost guaranteed to show models shedding some serious tears, and being super-dramatic because of their new look. Nothing makes the ANTM contestants cry more than a pixie haircut (que the mascara tears). You would think that after watching season after season contestants would know the makeover is coming, and their makeover has been handpicked my professionals in their field. I must admit, some of these makeovers are messed up (ahem, Molly from cycle 16 for example), but what matters most is that you own it and don’t let the change discourage you. Sometimes things go wrong in life, but what really counts is that you bounce back.

An America's Next Top Model contestant getting a haircut.

Homophobia Is Unacceptable

Remember that time Tyra shut down Denzel’s homophobia and the comments he made about Myles in cycle 21? Yeah, the Queen of ANTM made it clear that homophobia is unacceptable and would not fly in the fashion world, especially in Tyra Bank’s model house. She used racism to help Denzel see how homophobia isn’t cool.

Myles from America's Next Top Model Cycle 21 camera confessional.

Time Management Is Very Important

The go-see challenges on ANTM—a challenge where the girls audition with a modeling agency and try to book a job—definitely taught viewers and contestants the importance of time management. The contestants have several go-sees to attend in a specific amount of time, and it is very important they arrive on time. Throughout the cycles we’ve seen many contestants fail the go-see challenge miserably, mainly because they didn’t know how to manage their time.

A guy running on a clock.

How To Master The Booty Tooch

Another phrase to add to the ANTM dictionary is booty tooch. Tyra taught us girls how to pop our booties, and not our poochies, to get the perfect photo several times in ANTM history. Mastering the art of booty tooching helps ladies produce a fierce photo. The perfect booty tooch is sexy, but not trashy, and that’s why it’s important to do it right.

Tyra Banks giving America's Next Top Model contestants a "Booty Tooching" lesson

Don’t Let Anything Be Drekitude

This word became popular after the well respected Vogue Editor and judge on ANTM, Will Andre Leon Talley, used it. Drekitude can be used to describe anything that’s making you into a hot mess, from your shoes to how you’re standing. Prim and proper is key to avoid being drekitude.

Andre Talley (Fashion Editor).

Anyone Can Shine With A Little Confidence 

From cycle to cycle we’ve seen contestants that were overly confident, or had zero confidence. It’s clear that on ANTM confidence is key to having a successful photo shoot, go-see, or commercial. Contestants like CariDee English and Chantelle Brown-Young, who both had skin diseases, taught us that if you learn to love yourself and have confidence in yourself, you’ll be able to produce much better results. CariDee English went on to win cycle seven and said she never thought she would ever succeed in the modeling industry because of her skin disease. Both ladies, despite their physical “setbacks,” managed to be more than just a model with a skin disease.

Winnie Harlow, an America's Next Top Model contestant.

YOU Create YOUR Brand

Throughout the cycles of ANTM, Tyra has preached the importance of personal branding. She used her modeling career to launch her careers in television, public speaking, writing, and so much more. She’s taught us that you don’t have to be one-kind-of-woman. You can be a business women, who owns her own company, while working for a modeling agency. She’s taught us that we create our own brand and can have multiple careers. She has really pushed this message on ANTM, with challenges like creating an original perfume scent or writing a song.

Brand Concept Blackboard

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