'Top Model' Hopefuls Feel Short-Shrifted

"It's sad when people get hurt trying to get a deal, whether at Wal-mart [where a security guard was trampled to death in a Long Island store at the start of the Black Friday Christmas sale] or to be on a TV show," Cutrone said. "It's like a gladiator sport."

Kiara McCarthy, a 19-year-old sophomore at Long Island University, said, "I was sad, truly upset. I don't want to give up, but this definitely set me back a little."

McCarthy has dreamed of being a model since she was 12 but was turned away from many auditions because of her slight stature -- she's just shy of 5-feet-4.

She arrived at the auditions around 7 a.m. and stood in line for 10 hours, while her mother and younger sister waited across the street.

From the start, she said the crowd was edgy. Some women had camped out the night before and as the numbers swelled, police and organizers seemed unprepared for the turnout, she added.

With little organization to the lines and women unable to leave their spot to get food or go to the bathroom, tempers flared and scuffles broke out, McCarthy said. When an overheated car began to smoke and backfire on the street next to the line of women, several women yelled "Bomb!" Panic ensued.

McCarthy was standing at the front of the line, next to go in, when "all of a sudden I hear a roar behind me," she said. "All of a sudden people started coming toward me."

She and the young woman standing next to her in line ran just before a barricade toppled over under a sea of women. "I literally got pressed up against the doors," she said.

Sorry, See You in Dallas or Chicago

When the crowd finally calmed, the show's organizers announced that the auditions had been cancelled for the rest of the day and people in line could go to Dallas this Saturday or Chicago next Wednesday if they still wanted to try out.

Both McCarthy and Paravati remained standing on the sidewalk.

"My words were 'I'm not leaving,'" said Paravati, who had also been standing at the front of the line when mayhem broke out. "I stood there, crossed my arms and said, "Have them [the police] remove me."

McCarthy said, "I didn't believe them, I hung around like everybody else did it. The police were saying if you don't leave we're going to arrest you. It started setting in right then and there."

A full-time student working two jobs, McCarthy is doubtful she will make it to the other cities to audition.

Paravati, who has been trying to break into modeling "forever," and has even created her own portfolio, feels robbed of an opportunity. "If I had been able to audition, I could have left and said I tried but it was not meant to be," she said. "But I didn't even get to do that."

Fashion expert Cutrone said the women who missed out shouldn't feel bad because few of the "Top Model" winners have gone on to a successful modeling career. She also said it was unrealistic for short women to think they could have a supermodel's career when there are less than a handful of well-known short models, including Kate Moss and Devin Aoki.

"It's hard enough as it is," Cutrone said. "But if you're small, you're pretty much going to catalogue-land ... wearing a robe with some warm fuzzy slippers on your feet. That's where you're headed."

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