To make the first round of ANTM, you need good genes, height, and, preferably, be batshit crazy. To get onto Afghan Model, you mostly just need to have a lot of guts:
The show, on the network owned by a left-wing politician with a reputation for pushing the conservative country's boundaries, was intended to be provocative. And in stark contrast to the thousands of hopefuls who gather at malls and theatres to compete on even the crummiest of U.S. shows, the casting call attracted only 10 women. (The show is open to both sexes.) While the challenges described - posing as an Afghani bride or groom, for instance- are tame compared to what we're used to, the stakes are in fact far higher. As the Atlantic reports,
The number of women dropped to seven, after the families of three women forced them to step down. One of the 15 semifinalists, a man named Munir, was shot dead one night as he drove through an intersection. No one has been arrested, and his picture still sits in the middle of the roundabout where he was killed.
Those who do compete are reportedly shunned by neighbors; one woman has been cut off by her family.
The contestants, as the article makes clear, look like, well, regular people - no one, from the sounds of it, could actually work as a professional model, which makes the risks all the stranger. Whether it's the potential impact of morale-boosting and cultural impact that attracts hopefuls or merely the siren song of fleeting publicity in a country where many are poor and without options, is not made clear. Whether it's a step towards personal freedom (albeit in fairly ironic form) or globalization run amok, well only time - and maybe Tyra - can say.
Kabul Makeover [Atlantic]