Ashley Michaelson the second contestant cut from 'True Beauty'
By John Bracchitta, 01/13/2009
Ashley Michaelson has the outer beauty of the "all-American-girl-next-door," but her poor "inner beauty" caused her to become the second contestant eliminated from True Beauty during last night's broadcast on ABC.
The 21-year-old designer's assistant from Rochester, NY was booted after showing what the judges perceived as a lack of "inner beauty" after she made repeated attempts to raise money by pretending she was working for a charity and then failed to help a man who had just fallen off of his bike while right in front of her.
"If [this competition] is based on beauty on the inside, than [CJ Miller] should be in my position," Ashley said after learning of True Beauty's twist and referencing Miller, who came up with the plan to use a fake charity to raise money.
"I went along with an idea that I shouldn't have, but they didn't see my overall package and I didn't really get to show anyone what I really have to show," she added.
True Beauty's second episode began with Chelsea Bush, a 21-year old model/artist from Brentwood, TN, returning from the Hall of Beauty after avoiding falling into the bottom two and narrowly avoiding elimination over Hadiyyah-lah Fatimah Sa'id, who was eliminated instead.
Chelsea's return to the house over Hadiyya-lah elicited a strong and negative response from the show's other eight contestants, most of whom had not taken a liking to Chelsea.
"I'm not a fan of Chelsea at all," Ashley said. At this point I think everyone in the house does not like her."
"The look on all of our faces [when Chelsea returned] was 'Are you serious!'" added Monique Santiago, a 21-year-old go-go dancer from Manhattan, NY.
The nine remaining contestants then met with True Beauty host Vanessa Minnillo, who informed them that they would be sent out to Melrose Avenue to go shopping in teams to assemble an outfit that they would wear to a club opening the following evening. However, she added that each team of three would only have $100 to spend on clothing.
Unbeknownst to the contestants, Vanessa added later that she and her fellow judges -- former model Cheryl Tiegs and former America's Next Top Model judge Nole Marin -- would be judging the contestants on their charity and consideration for others as they built their outfits together on a limited budget.
In addition to seeing what levels the contestants would stoop to in order to get their clothing, an actor posing as a volunteer asking for donations to a children's charity would also be situated near the stores in order to see which contestants were charitable and would donate, and which ones would not.
The teams were split up into three groups of three, with Laura Leigh, a 21-year-old model from Staten Island, NY, Billy Jeffrey, a 31-year-old vitamin store owner from Lewiston, ID, and Julia Anderson, a 23-year-old magician's assistant from Dallas, TX, representing the Team 1; Ashley, CJ, a 26-year-old barista from Los Angeles, CA, and Chelsea making up the Team 2; and Joel Rush, a 26-year-old imaging software salesman from Tampa, FL, Ray Seitz, a 29-year-old artist from San Diego, CA, and Monique making up Team 3.
"I brought over like $40,000 worth of clothes here, so it's gonna be really difficult using only $100 [for] the three of us," said Ashley.
While Teams 1 and 3 each decided to try and use their good looks and "charm" to get free clothing from the stores, Team 2 decided to undertake a plan hatched by CJ that involved them pretending to be a charity and asking pedestrians for fake donations of money and clothing to help build their outfits.
Although CJ and Ashley were fully in support of the plan, Chelsea immediately objected to the idea and refused to play a part in it.
"I would never go along with somebody lying and scheming people and saying it's for a charity. It's not right," Chelsea said.
"It's an awesome strategy," said Ashley. "Everyone wants to donate, everyone wants to give to charity."
Team 1 had little trouble getting the owners of the stores they entered to give them the free clothing they sought. After Billy used his charm to get clothing for his team, Laura showed off her "moneymakers" to get a man to buy her shoes as well. As they approached the actors asking for charity, all three of the contestants gave money and passed the challenge.
Team 3 was also upfront with their clothing strategies. After Monique flirted with a store owner, she was able to get him to trade her jeans for a dress. Joel and Ray had little trouble convincing store owners to give them the clothing they needed as well. However, as the team walked by the actor asking for charity, only Joel ponied up and donated while Monique and Ray walked by.
Team 2 used the most inappropriate methods to retrieve their clothing. After CJ convinced a man to give them the shirt off of his back, Ashley convinced a man to surrender his AIDS bracelet. Following Ashley's retrieving the AIDS bracelet, CJ changed his mind regarding the plan and stopped asking for donations.
"Once I realized I did something I shouldn't have done, that's when I stopped, because I don't wanna do that," CJ said. That's not cool."
However, Ashley continued asking for fake donations -- which angered the judges when they watched the footage in the show's "spy room."
Despite their underhanded efforts, the team was also unable to completely finish their outfits, as CJ was unable to find and buy Size 13 shoes to wear to the club opening.
As the team approached the actors asking for charity, only CJ donated while Ashley and Chelsea walked by without even noticing it.
"There was lying, there was deceit, there was a lot of bad behavior here," Vanessa of the team performances following the challenge.
The contestants then prepared their outfits for the club opening, with Ashley going out of her way to help fix Chelsea's dress to make it fit her better and Billy taking his lead from the outfits he had seen Nole wearing and donning a sport coat with a tucked-in collared shirt.
Because CJ was unable to buy all of the clothing he needed, his outfit consisted only of a white button down shirt, brown slacks and no shoes.
After presenting their outfits to the judges in a fashion runway, the judges assigned each contestant's outfit a dollar value. Vanessa explained that the contestant receiving the one million dollar price tag would receive a $5,000 price tag while the two receiving a $10 tag would be up for elimination that evening in the Hall of Beauty.
While Nole felt that he could have used more complimentary colors, the judges like Billy's outfit the most and awarded him the one million dollar tag.
Joel followed in second place with the $750,000 tag. He was followed by Julia, Laura, Monique, and Ray. Chelsea narrowly avoided the bottom two for the second straight week, as she finished in seventh place ahead of Ashley and CJ, both of whom received the $10 tags.
"As far as Chelsea's outfit goes, she came out looking like a frumpy mess, and she didn't even make that dress, Ashley made that dress,' an angry Monique said after learning that Chelsea was safe from elimination while Ashley was not.
"I helped Chelsea with her skirt," Ashley added later. "The outfit she had before that was disgusting. If anybody should've been the $10 [tag] it should be Chelsea. I tried to help me and it screwed me over."
"I created the look, [Ashley] just added a couple swirls in my dress, so I don't know what to tell them," Chelsea added later.
Prior to the elimination ceremony, Nole commented that while CJ was "aesthetically such a handsome man," his idea to use a fake charity had been a big mistake.
"It's huge, he lied," added Vanessa.
"And looking at Ashley, she is a beautiful girl ms he is that girl net door, and she did follow the leader, which is not right," Nole said.
"But at least CJ stopped while Ashley just kept going, and she took that sweet man's AIDS bracelet," Vanessa added. "They both to me failed on honesty."
As CJ and Ashley arrived at the Hall of Beauty, the judges created one final challenge to judge each contestant's consideration for others. As they arrived separately, an actor posing as a bike messenger took a spill right next to them in order to see which contestant would attempt to help someone in need.
While CJ was reluctant, he nonetheless helped the biker pick up his bike and checked to see if he was alright, passing the challenge. Ashley was not as nice, simply staring at the biker as he got up and slowly biked away without offering any help at all.
In the Hall of Beauty, Vanessa asked each contestant why they felt they should stay on the show.
"I just feel I do have the whole package," Ashley said. "I'm the 'all-American look.' I'm the 'girl next door' and I definitely deserve to stay here."
CJ's answer was more substantial, and inadvertently touched on the true idea behind True Beauty.
"I think the reason I should stay in the house is I think that a beauty can only be found on the inside of a person," he said. "I think true beauty is felt, it's sensed, it gives you goose bumps. I don't think someone should live from the outside in, I think someone should love from the inside out."
"I gotta be honest this as a really tough one for all of us this week," Vanessa said before revealing that CJ was safe and Ashley had been eliminated.
Following her elimination, Ashley was treated to a montage of her bad behavior and misdoings while on the show.
True Beauty's next episode will air next Monday, January 19 at 10PM ET/PT on ABC.