In this episode of America’s Next Top Model, titled “Beauty is Raw,” the women expose their vulnerabilities while participating in a make-up free photo shoot, Christina continues to alienate the other ladies as well as the judges, and the models star in a PSA about bullying.

Following panel, Christina has a lot to say about Brendi K., who’s understandably upset after the judges’ comments. Christina thinks Brendi is immature and needs to learn to handle criticism without crying since they all go through it. (Funny, Christina’s shed some tears after being taken down a notch by the experts.) Christina feels Brendi wants everyone to know she’s been dealt a bad hand, and so what if she’s poor? Brendi needs to man up and do something about it.

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Manis and Insecurities

Brendi’s issues run pretty deep. She’s spent her entire life trying to get her mother’s approval and failing. This has resulted in Brendi feeling like she’s never good enough.

All these women have issues, and they’re laying them out on the table. Jeana’s always been a people pleaser, which has meant not doing things for herself, while Erin has had to put her dreams on hold to raise her kids — not to mention watching her father’s son die from cancer a year after she left him. Erin’s dealing with serious guilt over that one. Cancer turned him into someone she didn’t like, so she bolted. She realizes this isn’t an excuse, but she was scared.

Tyra surprises the contestants with manicures and shows up for some girl time. Tyra wants the tea on how the girls are feeling. Christina remarks that’s she’s trying to “connect” with the girls so they can get to know the real her. (She’s not doing a very good job because Rio thinks Christina is just straight-up bougie.) Tyra encourages Christina to open up, and the girl reveals that her father’s been in poor health, barely surviving a heart attack. But Christina doesn’t want people to feel bad for her.

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Shanice finally sees a side of Christina she can relate to. She realizes Christina has a heart. Tyra’s proud of Christina for sharing and thinks it will help her relationships with the other women. Tyra reassures the girls that vulnerability makes them relatable, and she urges them to tap into their younger selves to get to that place. Khrystyana tells the camera that she was molested when she was 11, and that’s shaped her personality. She’s been disgusted by something she didn’t even do to herself.

Tyra informs the women that their next photo shoot will be “stripped” and “raw,” which leads them to think they’ll be nude. Sandra and Erin aren’t down with getting naked, particularly Erin, who’s got kids and grandchildren to consider.

Everyone is relieved to learn that what Tyra has in mind is a shoot with no make-up. The girls scrub their faces, and then Tyra reveals the real reason behind the manicures. Each girl will be posing with the other models, whose only visible body part will be their hands. And to top it all off, Tyra will be the photographer.

The ladies don bras and panties and do their best to be raw and vulnerable but still connect with the camera. The experience proves to be cathartic for several of the women, mainly Erin, Brendi and Khrystyana.

Turning Negatives into Positives

Next up, the models learn that they’ll be shooting a PSA to combat bullying. They’re reunited with Director X, who did their beauty transformation videos. They have to come up with a voice-over script that includes a personal story about bullying and a group tagline. It has to be raw and real. The winning video will be part of the National Crime Prevention Council’s national anti-bullying campaign.
 
Drew instructs the girls to split themselves into three groups, and he wants them to team up with someone they want to know more about.

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Brendi and Shanice regret their decision to work with Christina almost immediately after she tells Stacey McKenzie that she’s been bullied inside the model house. Shanice thinks Christina is fake, acting one way and turning on you the next.

Brendi breaks down about her mom, and Stacey can relate, having dealt with similar issues herself. Brendi is comforted that someone like Stacey can understand what she’s going through.

The other groups include:

Kyla, Khrystyana and Sandra
Erin, Rio and Jeana

There’s lots of screaming and crying and emotion, making this challenge ground zero of a seriously depressing episode.

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Judges’ Panel

Drew is happy with Kyla’s progress, stating that every aspect of her is “activated.”

Drew sees something behind Sandra’s eyes he’s never seen before, and Drew can’t believe that all they had to do to get a stellar photo out of her was to wipe her make-up off.

Drew believes Shanice is a rising star. The judges are rooting for her, and she’s taking that and turning her pictures into art. Shanice bursts into tears. She can’t believe how well she’s doing.

Finally, Brendi gets some affirmation. Drew thinks she looks more beautiful without make-up. Law thinks the photo looks like a Calvin Klein ad. Like Shanice, Brendi sheds happy tears.

Ashley loves Rio’s photo, calling it “everything,” and Drew is a fan as well.

Tyra doesn’t see Erin’s ability to bring out emotion and stay beautiful, and Law calls the photo “tough” when it should have been “tender.”

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Jeana’s photo takes Tyra’s breath away.

Khrystyana winds up discussing her sexual abuse. She reveals that the members of the panel are the first people she’s spoken to of the incident. Ashley breaks down, as do some of the other women. Ashley and Tyra let Khrystyana know how many women she’s helping by speaking up. The judges are all thrilled with her photo.

Christina doesn’t fare as well. Ashley thinks Christina looks old, and while Tyra thinks Christina is beautiful, Tyra doesn’t think a no make-up thing is Christina’s thing. Christina can’t learn when to just shut up. She argues that she never wears make-up, so she believes a no make-up shoot is her thing. Tyra is not pleased that Christina is pushing back against someone trying to mentor her again. Tyra wants Christina to know she’s not trying to cut her down; she’s trying to let Christina know her strengths and weaknesses.

Backstage, Brendi gives Christina props for being a great model but a shitty person. Brendi suggests that if Christina wants to continue in the competition, she might want to consider apologizing.

For the first time on America’s Next Top Model, seven women tie for first place: Brendi, Rio, Khrystyana, Sandra, Jeana, Kyla and Shanice.

Erin and Christina are in the bottom two. Christina is eliminated. Tyra tells Christina that since she knows it all, Tyra’s setting her free to make her own way.

Is this season too much of a downer? Does delving into the women’s troubled pasts make the show more interesting? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

America’s Next Top Model cycle 24 airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on VH1. Want more news? Like our America’s Next Top Model Facebook page.

(Image courtesy of VH1)