Supermodel Tyra Banks left the runway and the world of high-fashion more than a decade ago to pursue her dreams of becoming a TV mogul. But since then, the model-turned-mogul has spent her time mentoring young models both on TV and in real life, giving them advice and warning them about the pitfalls of the fashion world.
And in a new open letter to models on The Daily Beast, Banks praises Vogue’s recent decision to ban models under 16 and those who “appear to have an eating disorder” from their pages.
“When I started modeling, 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 photo shoots. I’m sure many of you today have witnessed this, or even live it. Now, real progress is finally on the horizon. Vogue is stepping up, doing the right thing, and protecting that girl. Perhaps that girl is you!” wrote Banks.
Banks also talks about her own days as young model in the ’90s and the pressure she felt to be thin, despite only being a size four!
“Many of you have graciously said that you want to have the same type of career that I’ve had. But the truth is that if I was just starting to model at age 17 in 2012, I could not have had the career that I did. I would’ve been considered too heavy. In my time, the average model’s size was a four or six. Today, you are expected to be a size zero. When I started out, I didn’t know such a size even existed.”
The supermodel adds, “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 and get used to depriving myself of nutrition. As my mom wiped the tears from my face, she said, ‘Tyra, you know what we’re going to do about this? We’re going to go eat pizza.’ We sat in a tiny pizzeria in Milan and strategized about how to turn my curves into a curveball. In a way, it was my decision not to starve myself that turned me into a supermodel, and later on, a businesswoman.”
Banks ends her letter by telling young girls everywhere to accept and love their bodies as is.
“To young girls everywhere, it’s sad that our bodies go in and out of style, just like fashion trends,” Banks proclaims. “Many of you are saying, “What the heck am I supposed to be?” Exactly who you are right now: that’s who you need to be.”
We commend Banks for her continued efforts in helping young girls and models improve their body image and self-esteem and as she says, hopefully, Vogue’s new mandate will help usher in a new era of size diversity in the world of modeling.
Below, you can check out seven of the fashion world’s top black models who could definitely benefit by reading Banks’ letter. –nicholas robinson