America's Next Top Model: Judging by Appearances, Part One
They say you can't judge a book by its cover, but when it comes to modeling…um, you kind of have to.

But of course, as Tyra Banks loooooves to remind us on America's Next Top Model, there's more to modeling than just being pretty. In fact, it's one of the judges' favorite dire pronouncements about a modelette's failure to be fierce in a photo shoot: “She's just resting on pretty!”

So with the release of the photographs of the 13 finalists for the upcoming America's Next Top Model cycle 9, we're going to take a look at this first set of photos and make some assessments. Who looks like they might have the special something that might just take them to the top of America's Next Top Model? And who's just resting on pretty?

Today we are looking at the first four girls (based on alphabetical order) of cycle 9, tomorrow we'll do the next four, and Wednesday, the last five. Now of course, these assessments are purely subjective and based on nothing but the two photos (solo and group), so who knows how things will turn out once the girls are let loose on the show, but for now, let's take a look!

Ambreal looks like she might have some potential. The choice to wear short hair can be a telling one. It's a risky look – you have no hair to hide behind and, for women, long hair is an easy way to communicate sexiness or femininity. For a model to choose to go short says the girl might have some gumption and sass, which can make for more interesting and lively photos. However, these photos only speak to possibilities; in and of themselves, she's not yet creating anything particularly interesting or compelling in these shots. In fact, in the group picture, she has the dreaded dead eyes. We've seen some drastic transformations in the past though, so with some coaching, maybe she can step it up?

Bianca is definitely resting on pretty in these photos. She needs some practice-in-the-mirror time ASAP and a hair makeover. In these two shots, she seems to lean towards the commercial end of the spectrum; i.e., might not have that edgy quality favored by high fashion. However, with a more fashion-forward haircut, she might be able to pull it off. Certainly working in her favor are her gajillion-mile long legs (her full-body photo is on her profile page - click on her name above her picture to view).

If this solo shot was the best frame in the bunch, this particular photo does not bode well for Chantal's potential. Of course, part of it might have been beyond her control, if it were a stylist picked out that top for her.  The trapeze shape makes her body look larger, making her small face (normally a good thing for a model) look unnaturally so. Her appearance in the group photo, on the other hand, is a bit more promising. She has an intensity in her eyes and connection with the camera that some of the other girls would be well served to copy outright!

With Ebony, we have another questionable solo shot if this was the best they could pick. Her expression appears to be somewhere between “Oh really?” and “I just put a Sour Patch Kid in my mouth.” Now, even the best of models, even Ms. Tyra Banks, can have a bad frame or two during a shoot. But if this is the best one they could select? Not a great sign. In the group photo, she looks similarly awkward. Another girl who needs to spend some time in front of a mirror, practicing giving good face. She has a very typically pretty face that seems to indicate a more commercial look, but again, with an edgier haircut, she might be able to do both that and editorial.

That's our first group of girls. Tomorrow, it will be Heather, Janet, Jenah and Kimberly, so come right back here to BuddyTV for their totally superficial assessment!  What do you think of the first batch? Who do you think has the most potential for rocking the photo shoots this cycle of America's Next Top Model? Leave your feedback in the comments below!

America's Next Top Model: Judging by Appearances, Part Two

- Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
(Images courtesy of CWTV)