In a model’s life, it’s all about balance.

That’s the lesson the remaining nine women vying to be Canada’s Next Top Model learned on last night’s episode. Meeting Jay Manuel in a courtroom, the silver-maned show host greeting them from a judge’s pedestal, the women learned they’d be thrown a staple Top Model challenge — to balance the look of an unfamiliar new makeover with a great photograph.

Looks of excitement overtook the women as judge Manuel sentenced them to be cut and coloured, several taking after beauty icons like Linda Evangelista, Debbie Harry and Bettie Page. The latter was the muse for Calgary’s Nikita Kiceluk, who appeared to abhor the pinup girl’s trademark short bangs.

But whether the model hopefuls took to their looks instantly became secondary when given the week’s photo challenge. To match their cutting-edge appearance, the women were whisked to the recently renovated Art Gallery of Ontario to pose in haute couture Italian fashions while balancing atop ladders in high heels, and with male models supporting them.

While Kiceluk most vocally loathed her look, she was hush-hush at the judging ceremony. The panel agreed her photograph was the week’s strongest, advancing her to the competition’s next stage.

Two women who wholeheartedly embraced their makeovers — Rebeccah Wyse of Cambridge, Ont. and Vancouver’s Jill Pukesh — found themselves teetering toward the bottom of the pack, when they were marked as the bottom two. But, when Wyse’s pseudo-Twiggy pose came up against Pukesh’s alleged lack of passion, it was the latter that lost her balance, the second woman to be sent home.

“It does suck to get sent home so early but, at the same time, I’m not complaining because just getting on the show was good enough for me,” said Pukesh on the phone from Vancouver. “It was kind of like getting behind the scenes of what the industry really is like on a day-to-day basis.”

She acknowledges the importance of having passion in the modelling industry and said she obviously had it, or she wouldn’t have auditioned. “Just because I’m not head over heels wailing on the show, doesn’t mean I don’t have passion.”

And while she said she might have tried harder to convey her vigour when speaking with judges, Pukesh maintains that with her, what you see is what you get.

“I’m not going to change who I am just to suck up to anyone. I know that I have passion, and that’s all that matters to me.”

Watch it

• Watch Canada’s Next Top Model every Tuesdays on CTV.

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