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Monique Santiago the third contestant cut from ABC's 'True Beauty'


By John Bracchitta, 01/20/2009 

Monique Santiago, a 21-year-old go-go dancer from Manhattan, NY, had the beauty to match any contestant on True Beauty. However, her rude behavior and inability to think for herself resulted in her becoming the third contestant to be eliminated from the ABC reality beauty competition.

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"I'm not really like that," Monique said following her elimination. "I was mean, and I'm never mean like that. That's what you get for following other people. I just kinda jumped on the bandwagon."

True Beauty's third episode began with CJ Miller, a 26-year-old barista from Los Angeles, CA, returning to the house after the elimination of Ashley Michaelson, a 21-year-old designer's assistant from Rochester, NY.

While CJ's return was welcomed by some, it was also met with a great deal of surprise by the other contestants.

"When CJ came back I was shocked, I was like 'What?' They must be looking for something else a little deeper, I don't know," said Ray Seitz, a 29-year-old artist from San Diego, CA.

"I think they didn't expect me to return because they thought I would shoot myself in the foot, but I said something that reached [the judges] in their heart," CJ said of surviving his trip to the competition's Hall of Beauty elimination gallery.

CJ told the contestants that he felt his comment to the judges that "true beauty" comes from the inside had saved him.

"It's not just visual?" Monique asked.

Later that evening, Monique revealed her true feelings about Chelsea Bush, a 21-year old model/artist from Brentwood, TN, and stated that she would make it her "personal mission" to make sure that she was the next contestant eliminated.

"Of all of us, I think Chelsea is the least beautiful," Monique said. "I think that Chelsea says stupid things. I can't stand her."

While Monique began her mission to eliminate Chelsea by mocking her looks and beliefs whenever she had the opportunity to, CJ said that he had become troubled by a lot of the other contestants' behaviors.

"I don't agree with a lot that's going on in this house. There's been a lot of things I've wanted to say, a lot of things I've wanted to address in terms of behavior, in terms of decisions, in terms of things that have been said, that I completely disagree with," he said.

In an attempt to change the behavior at the house, CJ confronted Monique about how he felt Chelsea had been treated badly. Monique responded that Chelsea had acted like "an idiot" and that she could not respect someone who could not act smarter.

"She irritates the s**t out of me. She's not being herself," Monique added.

However, as Monique continued to insult Chelsea, she was eventually quite surprised to be told that Chelsea had been listening to her the entire time from upstairs.

"I didn't think that Monique was two-faced, but now I'm starting to wonder if she's been like that all along," Chelsea said after hearing the conversation.

The following day, the contestants were told that they would split up into two groups of four and would be taking part in an sports photo shoot that would "represent beauty in motion."

The two teams consisted of Joel Rush, a 26-year-old imaging software salesman from Tampa, FL; Billy Jeffrey, a 31-year-old vitamin store owner from Lewiston, ID; Julia Anderson, a 23-year-old magician's assistant from Dallas, TX; and Laura Leigh, a 21-year-old model from Staten Island, NY on one team. The second team consisted of Monique, CJ, Chelsea, and Ray.

After each team chose its captain -- with Joel representing the first team while CJ represented the second team -- the contestants were told that the captain of whichever team lost would go to the Hall of Beauty for elimination along with the contestant with the worst photo from the challenge.

The contestants were also told that because the photo shoots would occur the following day, they would be able to go to the gym and train in the sports that they would be photographed doing.
 
However, while they were told that they would be judged solely on the photos taken of them during the shoot, the judges secretly set up a second test to gauge each contestant's compassion and sportsmanship.

When each team's members were fitted for their wardrobes before going to the gym, an actor posing as the shoot's wardrobe assistant would pretend to get emotional after getting into a fight with her boyfriend over the phone. Judges would grade each contestant based on if -- and how -- they chose to help comfort her.

CJ's team was the first to be tested. As the "wardrobe assistant's" phone calls continued, the contestants began to notice her getting agitated to the point where she broke down in tears outside the room. However, CJ was the only contestant to pass the challenge by going outside to try to comfort her.

Monique looked outside for a moment and then burped as she walked back inside without helping, while Chelsea went outside, but ignored CJ and the assistant to spit in the trees. Ray simply remained seated in the wardrobe room.

"It was very generous and very thoughtful, what [CJ] did, but where were the other [team members]?" asked judge Cheryl Tiegs.

Joel's team did not fare much better, as Laura called the designer a "bitch" for not helping her and talking on her phone and Billy worried that he may lose the challenge because she was not focusing on measuring him.

"It's not my problem," he said.

Joel was similarly frustrated as he watched the assistant on the phone from afar but did not help. Only Julia passed the challenge by asking what was wrong and slightly comforting her while she was discussing the clothing she wanted to wear.

The following day, CJ was set back by a foot injury that he suffered while kick boxing in the gym, but stressed to his teammates that it would not hold him back in the photo shoot.

The teams then traveled to the photo shoot and prepared. While Joel's team stretched out and practiced in the wardrobe room, CJ was surprised by the opposing team's intensity.

"They're trying to get into their athletic, serious zone. They're treating this thing like they're about to go to Iraq," he said. "I'm thinkin', we're taking pictures."

Each contestant was given five attempts at taking an action photo of one of the four sports -- basketball, karate, tennis and volleyball -- they had practiced the day before. Only their best shot would be given to the judges.

Joel's team went first. While Joel, Julia and Laura all captured acceptable shots for their perspective sports for their team, Billy struggled to get a good shot of him trying to slam-dunk a basketball from a trampoline until his final shot.

CJ's team went next. Although Ray and Monique seemed to deliver acceptable photos, Chelsea did not perform well because of CJ's incessant coaching. CJ also did not perform well, with his teammates feeling that he did not put forth a full effort while attempting to pose while doing a tennis serve.

"I was really disappointed because everyone else put forth an honest effort, and I think CJ put forth the least effort," Monique said.

That evening, the contestants relaxed with a toga party. Some of the highlights included CJ not knowing what a toga was, Joel fashioning his toga sheet into a diaper, and a game of Truth or Dare that led to Ray streaking around the pool and Billy and Laura revealing their mutual attraction for each other.

"He's not my type at all. I guess opposites attract. he's very polite and sweet and he got good morals. He used to got to church," Laura said later.

The following day, the contestants received their scores from the judges.

Judge Nole Marin singled out Laura's tennis pose for its action and body positioning.  He also liked Billy's "awesome" slam-dunk photo, the "sex appeal" of Joel's ribs from his karate picture, and Juilia's "hot" picture of her trying to hit a volleyball.

The judges didn't think nearly as highly of CJ's team's photos.

Cheryl felt that CJ's tennis photo looked like he was "falling rather than connecting with the ball." She also didn't like the look on Ray's face for his slam dunk shot and felt that Monique's face wasn't clear and noted that Chelsea's was partially hidden behind the volleyball.

True Beauty host and lead judge Vanessa Minnillo then revealed that Joel's team had won the challenge and Monique's picture had been deemed the worst, which meant she would be joining CJ for possible elimination at the Hall of Beauty that evening.

"I don't deserve to be in the bottom two, and I better be coming back to the house because Chelsea had a worse picture than myself," a frustrated Monique said after the challenge.

"I don't think CJ's here for the right reasons and I think he could care less if he stays or goes home. I'm here to win," she added.

CJ's statements prior to leaving for the Hall of Beauty seemed to reflect otherwise.

"I would love to stay in this competition to give hope to everybody that society [tells] 'You are not good enough, you aren't attractive enough," he said.

Although the judges felt that CJ had easily been more compassionate that Monique, they also noted his lack of leadership and failure to give his all during the challenge. As a final challenge to help the judges decide which contestant would be eliminated, judges tested CJ and Monique's by having an actor drop a piece of litter near the Hall of Beauty's entrance and see if either contestant would pick it up as they entered the building.

While CJ picked up the litter and put it in a nearby trash can, Monique failed the challenge as she walked right by the piece of trash without even looking at it.

The contestants then met the judges inside the Hall of Beauty gallery, where they plead their final case to stay in the competition to Nole, Cheryl and Vanessa.

"I have waited my whole life for the opportunity to showcase myself and what I'm capable of, and I have worked way to hard and waited way too long to let someone who doesn't want it as much or more as me go on," a teary-eyed Monique said to the judges. "I may not be the most muscular, the most witty, and not most adorable, but I am me and I'm beautiful and I deserve to go on."

CJ, once again, unwittingly tapped into the show's true concept as he spoke to the judges and plead his case as well.

"Everything that I stand for is not just about outer beauty, but about inner beauty. It's not that I don't care about the competition, I do," CJ said. "I would like to go back to the house to continue sending that message to anyone that may see this that looks in the mirror and they hate what they see. Because I've been there, I've done that, it's that foundation that makes you beautiful."

"CJ had a second chance, please give me mine because I have so much more to offer," added Monique.

However, Monique's requests were not answered, as the judges revealed that she was being eliminated while CJ would once again get to return to the house.

Following CJ's departure, Monique cried as she was told of the show's true meaning and shown the clips of her poor behavior while on the show. After viewing the clips, Monique attempted to claim that others had instigated her behavior but was only met with more criticism from the judges.

The next episode of True Beauty will air on Monday, January 27 at 10PM ET/PT on ABC.

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