Is Tyra Banks too fat? The supermodel says that she was considered too "curvy" for modeling during her early twenties and that the industry needs to be reformed to help girls avoid self-esteem issues and eating disorders.
In a new essay for the Daily Beast, Tyra Banks bares her soul by telling a tale of woe early on in her modeling career, when she said designers were lining up to stop booking her for gigs due to her allegedly fat appearance.
She says the industry is more critical of any semblance of a girlish figure than ever before, and she hopes that by adding her famous voice to the conversation she may be able to help sway the discourse to one in which girls can model and still maintain a healthy body weight instead of having to be rail-thin.
The impetus for her article was Vogue's announcement earlier this month that all 19 international editors of the magazine are pledging to stop using images of models who are "under the age of 16 or who appear to have an eating disorder."
That message is one Tyra Banks, 38, wants to support:
"To models around the world, I want to celebrate Vogue's recent groundbreaking announcement ... This calls for a toast over some barbecue and burgers!" she writes in the Daily Beast piece, which was posted to the site on Tuesday.
She then goes on to tell her personal horror story about the pressure to be thin in the modeling world:
"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," she writes. "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."
And she has had an amazing career since then, appearing on the pages of magazines from Victoria's Secret to Vogue itself, and establishing a TV career with the show "America's Top Model" and then "The Tyra Banks Show."
She goes on in her Tuesday essay to say that she wants to help advocate for models to have more rights and protections, including against underage modeling, and that a models' guild would be a great step toward achieving these goals.
Without such a move, she worries that the industry will continue down its current course of wrecking young womens' lives and enforcing unrealistic expectations about body weight:
"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," she wrote. "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."