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July 23, 2007

Tyra Banks: Evil Slut?

We're confused by Tyra Banks. She says and does so many contradictory things. We think that she thinks she's doing good things for other women. We think she really does try to be a good role model. We don't think that her attempts are always very successful. But judge for yourself.


  • She had a doctor perform a sonogram on her talk show to prove that her breasts are real

You could argue that Tyra was trying to show women that she didn't alter herself to conform to a standard of beauty, and that she was making a statement about the tendency of people (especially women with other women) to judge, make assumptions, and jump to conclusions about the appearance of others. But at the same time, doesn't it also send out the message that Tyra is somehow superior because she's 'naturally' prettier? What am I supposed to get out of it if I'm a woman who does have implants, or who doesn't but doesn't have naturally model-perfect breasts either?

  • After tabloids caught her in a bathing suit and accused her of getting fat, she made an angry, tearful statement about body image on her talk show and posed in a similar suit for the cover of People magazine

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When some tabloids published photos of Tyra on vacation wearing a bathing suit and looking like she had gained some weight, it set off a frenzy of "Tyra's Fat!" headlines. In response, Tyra appeared on her talk show wearing the same swimsuit she was photographed in. She talked about how the photos were doctored, taken from a bad angle, etc., and then went on to make an emotional statement about body image, self-esteem, and accepting yourself. In the People article, she made the point that many girls and women have told her that they look up to her and like the fact that she isn't as thin as many other models and celebrities, so the flood of criticism of "Tyra's fat body" could negatively impact some of them as well.

We think she was trying to show that it's not such a big deal to gain some weight as you get older, and that being called fat is not exactly the end of the world. Seeing a supermodel getting upset about being judged on her looks probably made some women feel better about their issues by reminding them that everyone has their own insecurities. On the other hand, hearing a supermodel who currently produces a modeling competition crying and getting pissed off about being judged on her looks probably made some women pretty pissed off themselves. Throughout her entire career, Tyra has profited from her looks and from an industry that makes a major contribution towards making women feel bad about themselves. We wouldn't blame anyone if they had a hard time feeling too much sympathy for Tyra for being a victim of a problem that she helped to create.

  • She recreated her cover photo from the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue on its 10th anniversary

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Not too long after the "fat" controversy, Tyra staged a photo shoot to recreate the photo of her that appeared on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition 10 years ago. Apparently she felt the need to announce to the world that she is still sexy and thought that this would be better than your run-of-the-mill press release. She claimed that she was doing it "in honor of Black History Month" since her being the first black woman to appear on the cover was a historic and groundbreaking moment. "It enabled young women of color to realize that they can dream big." Move over Rosa Parks, Tyra Banks is in a tiny bikini! (Okay, we're kidding. Anything that breaks ground and pushes boundaries in the right direction is great, and if it did have a positive effect on some women and girls then that's great too.) But since fabric had to be added to the bikini in order for her to fit into it again, and the final photo ended up looking very airbrushed, we're left wondering exactly what she really hoped to accomplish, especially considering her claims that she has too much self-esteem to care what people think of her body.

  • For a segment on her talk show, she went "undercover" in a fat suit to expose discrimination against overweight people, and then cried about how difficult it was to be treated badly for not being thin and beautiful

Tyra's experiences as a 'fat girl' were apparently very eye-opening for her--she started crying while describing the way she was treated and had to be comforted by the women who were appearing on her show to talk about their own (real and everyday) experiences. But isn't this also pretty patronizing? Do overweight women really need Tyra Banks to validate for them that yes, it is hard to be fat, I wore a fat suit for one day so I would know? But hey, don't worry--maybe someday a plus-sized model will actually make it into the top five of an America's Next Top Model cycle.

  • A recent episode of America's Next Top Model featured a challenge where contestants had to pose as murder victims

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The contestants on the Tyra-produced ANTM were recently given the challenge of 'making death beautiful' by posing as victims of a variety of different crimes, like electrocution, organ theft and decapitation. Hot! We really appreciate this effort, since violence is not nearly glamorized enough in our society. There is absolutely nothing beautiful or sexy about young women being stabbed, drowned, or beaten to death. We think it's enough that the point of the show is already to judge women for not being pretty/sexy/skinny/fierce enough. Does the 'dying to be beautiful' message really need to be so blatant?

If Tyra really wanted to make a difference for other women, couldn't she use her money and fame and influence to try to reform the modeling industry rather than reinforcing the same tired old standards and stereotypes? When she was accused of being fat, couldn't she let her statements about being okay with her body and happy with herself stand, rather than having to run out and prove that she could still fit into her bikini from ten years ago? Talk about a mixed message. Although really, I guess all it proves is that she's human and she does have insecurities and she doesn't want to be thought of as less beautiful than she was before. And that's all okay and normal and you can't really fault her too much for any of it. Hopefully she'll continue to learn from her mistakes and possibly begin to think differently about modeling and standards of beauty now that she's gotten a few glimpses of it from the "other side". We'd love to see what Tyra's up to in ten more years. We're betting she'll have better things to do than try to squeeze herself into a teeny weeny polka dot bikini.*





*I apologize to anyone who now has ''she wore an itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini..." stuck in their heads. I know. I hate that song too. And I hate those damn commercials with that dumb bitch eating yogurt on the beach. I'm sorry. If it makes you feel any better, it's stuck in my head now too. Damn it.

13 comments:

Christine said...

Yes, Tyra Banks is an evil slut. She really tears into those poor contestants on ANTM.

Pheonix said...

I must admit, I never watch tyra - much more important things to do in my life... but I did catch one episode where she put skinny people in a fat suit. She wanted to make a point that fat people don't get the same benefits that beautiful skinny people get. She demonstrated this by taking two tall, skinny, brown hair, blue eyed, very overly make-up'd twins (who honestly would not be too flattering without their makeup).

She had them apply for jobs while one was in a fat suit, wore no make-up, made her eyebrows bushier, and gave her a frumpy outfit. Then sent the twins to job applications for:
1. hostess at a hot and coming night club
2. a spa specializing in skin repair

Throughout the whole show I was mumbling "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!" (ok maybe I was screaming). OBVIOUSLY THE WELL DRESSED, WELL GROOMED CANDIDATE WILL GET THE JOB YOU NINCOMPOOP! I would never show up to a job interview in oversized 80's trousers and a frumpy shirt. Nor would I apply to a SPA without SOME attempt at shaping my eyebrows, and knowing something about makeup.

I'm not even going to touch the night club job gig - she's an idiot.

Point of the story is that she's annoying, and her ways of making a point are very planned and things we ALREADY KNOW! The show didn't nearly produce as much scandal as I'm sure she was expecting, in fact, it made me never want to watch her shot again. (especially when one twin was walking down rodeo dr. with her sister and started crying because no boys were looking at her, instead choosing to stare at her half nekkid, high heeled, done up, stripper like sister.)

the end :)

May said...

If Tyra really wanted to make a difference for other women, couldn't she use her money and fame and influence to try to reform the modeling industry rather than reinforcing the same tired old standards and stereotypes?

I completely agree. I think she is trying very hard to not have self-esteem issues, but she still has bought in to so much of the fashion lifestyle that I don't think she'll ever be able to be 100% comfortable with herself. I feel bad for her more than anything. I'd hate to live like that.

THE EVIL SLUT CLIQUE said...

Pheonix, that's exactly it. It's like you can see her thinking to herself 'wow, look at me making this IMPORTANT POINT about SOCIETY. I'm so fierce!' She probably means well, but her methods really could use some work.

David said...

If I had a choice between watching Tyra's show (which I don't)and reading about a bunch of jealous Tyra haters, I'd choose, Tyra. Get a life.

Lilith said...

Did you even read the points we made or did you just see the title and assume we're jealous? Yeah, I'm SO jealous of her airbrushing. Please.

David said...

Yes, I read your blog actually. It's seems very envious to me. You question Tyra's judgment as to what she does with the multiple forums that she controls. One could ask have you internalized that very same question as to the forum you control.

THE EVIL SLUT CLIQUE said...

Honestly, this blog entry wasn't really a Tyra-bashing (which we certainly could have done).

We said that we think she's trying to do good things for women and be a good role model. But that she's just kind of contradictory and therefore not always successful at it.

Sometimes we write about stuff that we think it important, but we realize that it's just a blog and we're not actually doing a wonderful, huge, powerful thing for humankind. Tyra acts as if she deserves a Nobel Prize for putting on a fat suit for a day.

She means well. One day she says "it's okay to be fat!" but then the next she's being airbrushed to prove that she's not fat. She's not a horrible person... but she just keeps missing the mark.

Anonymous said...

Tyra is a fuckin slut! she thinks her shit dont stink and she plays the media darling when shes truly not! My uncle who is an executive at NBC has reliable sources confirming she has been involed in sexual threesomes on more than one ocassion!and thats not even the half!

Lilith said...

Um... 'Anonymous' did you read the actual blog or just the title?

We may not be huge Tyra fans, but one thing we would NEVER fault her - or anyone else - for would be for choosing to have threesomes or any other kind of sex that she chooses to have.

Anonymous said...

She can screw the whole world if she wants! more power to her! just don't act like the VIRGIN MARY!

Anonymous said...

I Think Tyra is a high class call girl.

Anonymous said...

She is teaching vanity, which God does not like.
If she spend her efforts rather teaching others to work on their insides (souls), rather than their outsides (bodies), the world might be a better place.
But then again MOST people who call themselves Christians, do the OPPOSITE of what Christ commands them to do.