The word Superman is easy to understand. It is a man with powers beyond those of normal guys. Super Tuesday also is a no-brainer. That's the election day with far more primaries than those of normal primary days.
Superstar, Super 8 Motels and Super Bowl don't need explanation.
But what in the name of Cheryl Tiegs is a supermodel? Is it the ability to leap over twig-thin models in a single bound to land the big jobs? Can a supermodel bend the steel reserve of a photographer with her well-manicured hands? The guys at Bravo better know what a supermodel is. The cable channel will air the new competition series "Make Me a Supermodel," hosted by supermodels Niki Taylor and Tyson Beckford, beginning tonight.
As a viewer, you'd better know what makes a supermodel. The 14 hopefuls will depend on viewer votes as to whether they stay or are sent to the modeling world's answer to the Phantom Zone.
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Maybe a quick examination of host Taylor's life might provide a clue to what makes some supermodels and others just models.
Taylor was born in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. While other teenage girls were concerned with gossip and dating, Taylor leaped into the modeling business when she was 14.
What followed was a steady battle with the forces of ugly. Taylor showed the world through more than 400 magazine covers that she represented the truth about picking the right eye shadow, the justice of opening her own clothing boutique and the American way of being a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model.
"A supermodel is someone who has campaigns, contracts with somebody where they are doing shows every season," Taylor says. "It is not someone who gets one editorial or one catalog job."
If Taylor is the standard for supermodels, then Beckford is living a supermodel lie. Sure he's appeared in the Fall 1994 Polo Sport campaign. And there was that exclusive multi-year contract with Ralph Lauren.
But Beckford has not appeared on 400 magazine covers. He has been in the movies "Into The Blue," "Zoolander" and "Biker Boyz."
Maybe each film is equal to 50-75 magazine covers.
Beckford's definition of a supermodel is someone who is a household name. Using that logic, then Christie Brinkley, Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell are supermodels because they are as well known as Batman, Iron Man and Wonder Woman in the superhero world.
And apparently a supermodel has to have the modesty of Clark Kent.
Neither Taylor nor Beckford consider themselves to be supermodels.
Taylor looks at herself as just a "working-class citizen."
So these unassuming supermodels will strive the next 12 weeks to help bring along the next contender who can lay claim to the title of "supermodel." And for that, magazine editors around the globe can sleep just a little more comfortably.