(CBS) Tyra Banks has said she wants her hit show "America's Next Top Model" to respect all types of beauty. Wednesday, the program held true to that philosophy by crowning 19-year-old Ann Ward, a strikingly thin, 6'2" model, it's winner.
Images of Ward's unusually tiny waist - small enough for a man to fit his hands around - shocked fans of the show earlier this year.
On the program, Ward said she was bullied for her body in school: "All those comments about being tall and just not normal. They're going to look back and feel 'I should have been so nice to that girl.'"
Whether or not Ward is naturally thin, some eating disorder experts worry when bodies like hers are held up as a paragon of beauty.
"I don't know what this model is doing, but some of my clients are as skinny as these girls," says Marisa Sherry, a New York-based nutritionist specializing in eating disorders. "My clients are restricting or purging in order to get their bodies that way."
Sherry says unrealistic fashion images on television, magazines and the Internet are having a negative effect on her clients. She did not single out America's Next Top Model.
As many as 10 million Americans are now struggling with eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia, according to the National Eating Disorder Association.
In the past, America's Next Top Model has elevated plus-sized models like Tocara and Whitney Thompson. Tyra Banks herself has been ridiculed for being both too thin (as a child) and too heavy (as a talk show host).
Ward walks away with a modeling contract, $100,000 to promote Cover Girl cosmetics and a spread in Italian Vogue.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Is Ann Ward a beauty queen or a risky role model?