- Barker with publicist Dannia Hakki (Photo: Oliver Truong).
Noted fashion photographer Nigel Barker, as he's always introduced on America's Next Top Model, came to Washington for a book signing at Eden Lounge yesterday to teach girls math. Kind of! See, this is BEAUTY math – math for girls – as explained in his book, "Nigel Barker's Beauty Equation."
Here's the formula:
YOU + allure + confidence + compassion + spontaneity + radiance + health + honesty + charm + energy + humor = (inner & outer) BEAUTY!
But I'd like to take my calculus teachings of Professor Barker further by proposing this far more complicated Top Model Equation (inspired by Amanda Hess' post "America's Next Top Model seeks tall local women to create drama.")
(Willingness to cheat on boyfriend with male models in hot tub)³ + anger (southern accents + blonde hair) + (smizing skills x walk) + desire to be on top - being "here to make friends" x tragic backstory x √ alcohol + 1 = America's Next Top Model.
Incidentally, America's Next Top Model ≠ you.
Anyway, here are some things that happened at Barker's book signing last night:
How this reporter envisions Barker working out the mathematics of the Beauty Equation: A Beautiful Mind-style - In a shed full of newspaper clippings and elimination photos from Top Model, muttering to himself and his imaginary friends.
Real Housewives spotted: One – Lynda Erkiletian. We thought we saw Paul Wharton too, but it turned out to just be a girl who has the same hair as him.
Models in attendance who have actually been judged by Barker: One, K Street Kate (Kate Michel), who was Miss D.C the year that Barker judged the Miss America competition, 2007.
Reasons he will win the Nobel Prize in Mathematics: "At Top Model, we get emails from girls all the time asking, 'Do I have what it takes?' 'Am I pretty?' Mothers, fathers saying, 'Has my daughter got what it takes?' And I wanted to write back to all of them and say, of course you're beautiful. Of course you've got potential. People are wrapped up in the idea that to be a model is to be beautiful. And I wanted to write a book that says, truly, that's not the case."
Somewhere in America, Tyra Banks' eye is twitching: "I don't look to see whether you're 5'10, whether you're a size 4, whether you've got clear skin, whether you've got thick hair. Those aren't the things that have anything to do with whether or not you're beautiful," said Barker. Except if you're on his show!
Things he does look for: Humor, confidence, passion, something that will "bring your eyes alive."
Tyra already has a name for that: It's called smizing!
What Washingtonians have the best smize? "Regardless of your politics, if you believe in yourself, then you're gonna smize well. You can be the bad girl or the good girl and still look well in a picture," says Barker. (Hat tip to the Examiner's Nikki Schwab, who asked that question).
Number of photographs of beautiful people in the book: More than 170
Another reason the beauty equation is mathematically sound: Barker says that the book is being taught in schools in Michigan. Beauty schools?
How to become confident: "Imagine that you've won an Olympic gold medal. Your country's flag is waving in the background, you're standing on the podium. The wind is waving through your hair … Stand up tall, seem proud .. Anyone can put themselves in their shoes for 10 seconds."
Practical advice: If you are going to take a picture of yourself using your computer's webcam, make the screen totally white. It will provide the most flattering lighting.
Beauty is: Volunteering and charity work. "People say they don't have time. Of course we do. We all have time."
Beauty is also: Honesty. At which point Barker told a tangentially-related story about a male friend who stayed in his hotel room to save money in Shanghai and was mistaken for his gay lover. "Ultimately, honesty is very important, even in the smallest of things," he concluded the story.
Beauty is also: Having a sense of humor. "If I was to walk up to this young lady [an NBC reporter] and say to her, 'Don't you smell good,' you could be like, 'Why is he smelling me, it's disgusting,' or you could brush it off and say, 'I'm glad I showered today,' or 'Actually, I'm wearing Chanel No. 5.' Brush it off. Of course, if I were to look at your derriere and say, 'Woo. Honey.' Again, you could give me a backslap, or you could just shake your tush at me and smile or wink and walk away. You can let people bring you down … don't let them."
So, to do some logical reasoning of my own: Beauty is letting people sexually harass you, and then laughing about it? Does not compute.