Who's going to be "Afghanistan's Next Top Model"? It may not be the American hit show hosted by Tyra Banks, but Afghanistan's low-budget answer is defying cultural norms by showing the beauty beyond the burqa. This reality TV series is a spin-off of the hit series “America’s Next Top Model” which is the brainchild of the beautiful, sexy and talented actress and supermodel Tyra Banks.
The models first wore the country’s traditional brightly-colored baggy pants and loose shawls, then changed into jeans, sandals, and lightweight tops. While hardly provocative by Western standards, to most Afghanis, who follow strict Sharia law, the outfits - and indeed the whole operation - is tantamount to heresy. This relatively low-budget reality show is being shot in the relatively liberal northern town of Mazar-i-Sharif, where town residents are more open to the concept. The models and producers of the show are hoping it is a sign of positive changes in this blighted country.
“It is a great idea I think for Afghan girls, to encourage them to go a step forward,” said 19-year-old model Katayoun Timour. Even so, ten additional contestants dropped out when they heard international press would be there, afraid the increased exposure would mean an increased risk on their lives.