America's Next Top Model
The Girl Who Needs Six Months Of Modeling School

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Stopping Short

"I'm short and I don't care!" a voice from the very living floor of the Gelfling forest calls out. "Look how short I am!" Jenascia struts down the ZoLoft's runway, sashaying down its entirety in the amount of time it takes one of the other, human-legged girls to not eat. Jenascia is decked out in a white shirt with the numbers "206" splashed across the front, which is one mere digit away from another reality television icon filled with hometown pride, whereas Jenascia had better start thinking about walking straight off that runway and continuing on until she reaches her residence of Elimination-On-Avon, population: her.

If you're getting distracted from reading around right now, it's entirely possible that it's due to the distracting sounds of this show suddenly deciding to play "Flight of the Bumblebee" on that most personal instrument known as...the heartstrings. Mercedes -- who up until now had achieved her zenith of character recognition in that niche face time genre known as "Girl Whose Name Might Be Sara Or April" -- kicks in with a confessional designed to make you think, make you worry, make you reconsider your own petty squabbles and vices, makes you question your life to the darkest core of musing on your own tenuous mortality, make you furrow your brow and wonder aloud, "Lupus? Really? They're hitting us with lupus? Huh."

"My hair has been falling out because of the high medication I take every day," Mercedes tells us. "I was diagnosed with lupus." Didn't see the lupus coming, I have to admit, but, y'know, play the card that's in your hand, as I always say when I'm pretending I'm a lost verse in "The Gambler." So, we've discovered the symptoms and are told its treatment. But for those fans of illness portrayed in the interest of a humanizing angle who don't watch this show with the latest edition of The Merck Manual sitting open on their laps...well, Mercedes, just what is lupus? "A chronic illness where it attacks your immune system about a year ago." It attacks your immune system a year ago? From her description, it sounds like lupus is most dangerous when it hits you in the place you're clearly least expecting: in the past. But Mercedes, what about the coping strategies you've designed for yourself in the face of this difficult if time-traveling disease? "It's best to keep it a secret, because I don't want to talk about, 'oh, how you feeling,' 'oh, this must be hard,' y'know, don't give me that, I don't need it." And remember, kids: it's not your fault you have lupus, and it doesn't mean god hates you for making fun of other kids who were sick when you were little. Just take your medication, keep a good attitude about it all, and together we'll beat this disease together with knowledge and power as we link hands and bask in the warm glow of the "The More You Know" star fall.

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America's Next Top Model

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