Tyra Banks has been a longtime advocate of changing the modeling industry to promote a healthy body image, and she applauds Vogue for taking the lead.
The fashion magazine recently decided to stop featuring emaciated-looking models whose images reinforce the stereotype of “the skinnier, the better.”
“I want to celebrate Vogue’s recent groundbreaking announcement. The editors of Vogue’s 19 international editions have pledged to ban models from their pages who ‘appear to have an eating disorder,’” Tyra wrote in an open letter.
“This calls for a toast over some barbecue and burgers!” said Tyra, who shared her own personal struggles in the industry.
“In my early 20s, I was a size four, but then I started to get curvy. My agency gave my mom a list of designers that didn’t want to book me in their fashion shows anymore. In order to continue working, I would’ve had to fight Mother Nature,” she said.
Luckily, Tyra decided to reinvent herself instead of depriving herself. “It was my decision not to starve myself that turned me into a supermodel, and later on, a businesswoman,” she wrote.
On her series, “America’s Next Top Model,” Tyra has often challenged models who appear too thin. She’s fought with judges who called models overweight, and she often included full-figured models as contestants.
While some “ANTM” contestants admitted to previous issues with food, none openly struggled with bulimia or anorexia while on the show. However, as a modeling veteran, Tyra has seen it firsthand from her colleagues.
“I used to see models who seemed unhealthy backstage at fashion shows. They appeared to be abusing their bodies to maintain a certain weight. These girls were booked over and over again for countless fashion shows and photos shoots,” she said.
Many women strive to be thin, but some question why others go to the extreme of binging and purging and other unhealthy weight-loss practices. Tyra explained that for models, keeping the weight off is a requirement.
“What many don’t know is that a certain sample size has been set by the industry, and you’re doing everything in your power to keep working. At times, I feel there’s an unspoken rule that says, ‘there’s no such thing as being too thin, as long as you don’t pass out.’"
So far, Vogue is the only publication that’s pledged to make a change. It remains to be seen if others will follow suit. Regardless, Tyra expressed gratitude for that one step in the right direction.
“Vogue is stepping up, doing the right thing, and protecting that girl," Tyra wrote. "Perhaps that girl is you!"
See photos of Tyra, Jessica White, Iman and more Black supermodels.
—Tracy L. Scott
If there aren’t rail-thin models in magazines, will that help young girls with body image issues? Leave your comments below.