Supermodel-turned-reality-show-host-turned-talk-show-queen Tyra Banks spoke with People magazine about the weight she’s put on since she retired from modeling in 2005. When a tabloid posted these pics of Tyra looking a little hefty in a swimsuit with some disparaging headlines, Tyra’s feelings were understandably hurt. “I get so much mail from young girls who say, ‘I look up to you, you’re not as skinny as everyone else, I think you’re beautiful,’ ” she says. “So when they say that my body is ‘ugly’ and ‘disgusting,’ what does that make those girls feel like?”
Continues Tyra, “I’ve made millions of dollars with the body I have, so where’s the pain in that? If I was in pain, I would have dieted. The pain is not there – the pain is someone printing a picture of me and saying those (horrible) things.”
Tyra’s long been a proponent of a realistic body image for young women, and she always encourages the girls on Top Model to eat healthy and take care of themselves. The competition used to regularly include a token “fat model,” but producers must have realized the hopelessness of that cause, because the more recent cycles have been all thin girls. Last year, Tyra announced that she would no longer allow photo shoots of herself to be digitally retouched before being used in magazine, again emphasizing that this sends a message promoting unrealistic beauty to women. Because, you know, every woman can look like Tyra Banks if she just exercises and eats right.
But is there an additional motive to Tyra’s weight gain? “(TV execs) think it’s better when I’m at 155 lbs. – at 145, they feel I’m not as relatable,” she says. Perhaps Tyra’s trying to discard her supermodel image and adopt a look that Midwestern housewives will be more comfortable taking advice from.