‘America’s Next Top Model’ Crowns Season 23’s Winner, But Did She Deserve It?

After a full season of intense competition, America’s Next Top Model finished off its Season 23 with a new winner, India Gants. It was a win that came as a surprise to the champion, even though India managed to impress the judges with her confidence, as well as her beauty and grace. Even Tyra Banks, who made a special guest appearance, after stepping behind the ANTM cameras for Season 23, commented on the winner’s style, comparing her to Kendall Jenner. The win may have come as a surprise to recipient India Gants, but, for most others, there was never any doubt.

India Gants Is America’s Next Top Model

A season of unmerciful competitions had led to just three contestants remaining for the America’s Next Top Model finale with TV Line sharing that those remaining hopefuls were India Gants, Tatiana Price, and Cory Anne Roberts. While Roberts was still in the running, the real competition seemed to come down to Gants and Price, producing a rivalry evident in the way Tatiana observed India and suggested an easy win for herself.

Things came to a head when all three women participated in a Paper magazine photo shoot and, following that, their final runway strides. Afterwards, Gants admitted to feeling flustered by the sudden pressure to perform.

“I felt like I was doing great, but backstage when everyone’s screaming and yelling — a lot of tension was building up, so I was freaking out,” India says.

Tatiana says she noticed that India was nervous, but shrugged off the anxiety of her ANTM rival, stating she was determined to win the title with confidence and a winning attitude.

In the end, Tatiana Price just didn’t have what it took to impress the judges.

Upon being awarded the prestigious title of America’s Next Top Model, India Gants commented on the suggestion that the show, carrying the stigma of a reality series, is more of a curse than a blessing for promising new models. Tyra Banks’ decision to step back and serve as executive producer, while bringing in plus-size model and activist Ashley Graham, has been an effort to switch things up and bring more legitimacy to the show.

“It’s an opportunity to set the tone for future years,” Gants says of her win. “I’m ready to set the bar and do something different… I see [past cast members] working, but I guess it’s not the kind of jobs I want to be doing. I don’t want reality TV to hinder my opportunities as a model at all. I want to take this new revamped season and say, ‘Look, America’s Next Top Model can develop high fashion, high-end, working models.'”

Who Is America’s Next Top Model Winner India Gants?

India Gants tells People magazine that becoming a fashion model wasn’t even on her radar, until she was encouraged by her high school classmates. The America’s Next Top Model winner says she always felt like one of the “dorky” girls, complete with glasses, until one of the girls in her class complimented her. Gants says her classmate was overcome by how beautiful she thought she was, suggesting that she should consider modeling as a career.

Even as she started out at 16 years old, India says she was already facing harsh criticism with agents continuously pushing her to lose weight, because she had never really been a thin person. Ms. Gants says the body shaming destroyed her self image, but reveals that the other contestants on America’s Next Top Model helped her get back on top of her game. India says the ANTM girls found something beautiful or sexy in every aspiring model, regardless of her body style or weight.

There was one more thing pushing India to stay determined in realizing her modeling dreams. She only had to look to her own role model, Gigi Hadid, to find inspiration to continue pursuing her goals.

“This is cheesy because everyone says we look alike, but I really do admire Gigi Hadid’s career path because she can do the commercial stuff, she can do the high fashion stuff. And initially, she broke into the industry as someone who’s not typical model skinny,” says Gants. “She’s still very slender, of course, but she’s maybe not a 34-inch hip or whatever. She’s a little bit bigger like me and she’s been doing it. She’s doing great. She’s doing every type of modeling.”

India Gants didn’t just win the America’s Next Top Model title. Gants will also walk away with a Paper photo spread, a year-long talent deal with VH1, and a $100,000 contract with Rimmel London cosmetics.

[Featured Image by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images]

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