Melanie Morris: Freckles and all, Tiffany is just the kind of Next Top Model winner we've been waiting for
FRECKLED and plain but cute as a button ... elfin even ... glowing with health with hardly a drop of discernible make-up.
Hardly how you'd hear a top fashion model described these days, but what a refreshing description of the winner on this week's Next Top Model show, Tiffany Pisani.
With her cropped chestnut hair and endearing imperfections, 19-year-old Tiffany is a million miles away from the Abbey Clancy clones that we've come to expect to take the first prize on such reality TV model competitions.
Firstly, she looks her age. No identikit Hollywood-esque backcombed hair, no layers of foundation, no panda eyes and no orange skin. She's not disguising her natural looks to try to conform to a teenage Bratz doll ideal -- and she stands out all the more for it.
While it would be wrong to spout the cliche that 'she's the next Kate Moss', there is nonetheless an undeniable similarity between Tiffany and the unaffected, gawky Kate first photographed by Corrine Day back in 1990.
And in a time when it seems many teenage girls aspire to be footballers wives, glamour models and, dare I say it, lap dancers, the judges of Britain's Next Top Model, led by Elle Macpherson, are to be commended for acknowledging Tiffany's style of beauty.
Hers is a low-maintenance look that appears uncontrived, and celebrates her unique features, putting them to the fore. The sort of beauty that any teenager could feel in her grasp. And the type of natural look that doesn't require four hours in front of a mirror with a make-up cake and brush for an aspiring young city woman to achieve.
Without sounding like a maiden aunt here, the whole point of being young is to make the most of fresh, firm skin, bright eyes and nature's imperfections -- things that are endearing and individual.
Sometimes, you never appreciate what you've got until you lose it, and all too often we hide perfectly passable teeth with blinding white veneers, bulk hair with extensions and add fake nails, drag-queen lashes, breast implants and false tan. This can actually add years to a girl. Years that can't be reclaimed later in life.
And ironically enough, rather than projecting an air of sophistication, the girls who ask for 'a Cheryl Cole' often end up looking quite the opposite: awkward, unsure, vulnerable.
Tiffany Pisani, on the other hand, for all her otherwise ordinary looks, exudes confidence while looking every bit the real young woman you'd expect to see on an international catwalk, rather than one of those commercial photocall babes so many confuse with 'models'.
I had this debate over and over again when working with Ellis, the international model scout who, along with Erin O'Connor, judged 2009's RTE programme The Model Agent.
Ellis wanted "a fashion girl" to win the IMAGE cover shoot and I was in agreement. But we had such trouble, and ruffled quite a few feathers, in articulating these desires to the Irish industry.
In fairness, the winner, the coltish Carrie-Anne Burton, answered the brief beautifully and, like Tiffany, had a unique look which made her stand out from the rest.
We can only hope that Tiffany's star continues to rise, because with role models like her, our young teenage girls might be inspired to ditch what is arguably a far more brassy, two-dimensional interpretation of beauty and instead start focusing on their individuality instead. We've had bling, now let's have the real thing.