Reflecting On Tyra Banks And America's Next Top Model's Problematic History
Tyra Banks has faced major backlash after old clips from America’s Next Top Model went viral -- and they certainly did not age well.
One clip that sparked controversy was from a 2006 episode of the reality series, where Tyra told an aspiring model she would never be a "covergirl" with a gap in her teeth.
"Do you really think you can have a CoverGirl contract with a gap in your mouth?" she said in the episode to Season 6 contestant Dani Evans, adding, "It's not marketable."
Seeing the response to the 14-year-old clip, Tyra addressed the drama on Twitter, agreeing with fans that looking back, there were several instances which would be considered far too controversial to air in today's world.
“Been seeing the posts about the insensitivity of some past ANTM moments and I agree with you,” she tweeted. “Looking back, those were some really off choices. Appreciate your honest feedback and am sending so much love and virtual hugs.”
After the clip resurfaced, Dani Evans herself posted on Instagram to speak out about the moment, saying that she wasn’t told about getting her gap closed until she was in front of the judges.
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This video isn’t made for unsolicited advice, words, or paragraphs on how YOU would have handled the situation. I’m speaking MY truth aside from anyone’s opinions, beliefs, or input. I chose to use my own platform to speak so I have full control over my narrative. Watch until the very end to understand the purpose as to why I took time to even address the matter. 🤍
“I knew that I was basically set up and not being told that Tyra wants me to get my gap closed so that it’s good for TV," she said.
Evans added a message for "all the young queens" who might have seen the video and been affected by it. "I want to remind you of your worth," she said. "You are so loved, you are so adored, and you're beautiful."
Viewers also pointed out that Tyra's assertion that Evans was "not marketable" with a gap was contradicted by Season 13, in which she had a model's teeth ground down to give her front teeth a gap.
It's just one example of America's Next Top Model's controversial moments that have aired since the modelling competition kicked off back in 2003.
In Season 3, contestant Kahlen (in the centre below with red hair) was made to pose for a photo shoot inside a casket on the same week she discovered one of her friends had died.
In a similar vein -- in Season 8, contestant Jael (who has since died from breast cancer) was forced to to pose dead for a photoshoot a week after her friend died of an overdose.
In a Season 4 clip, which has since been recycled into a meme still used today, Tyra is then seen screaming at contestant Tiffany Richardson, who tried to appear stoic and joke around with fellow contestants after being eliminated.
"Tiffany, I'm extremely disappointed in you. This is a joke to you," the host said, "This is serious to these girls, and it should be serious to you."
“Looks can be deceiving," Richardson interjected. “I'm hurt. … I can’t change it, Tyra. … I’m sick of crying about stuff that I cannot change. I’m sick of being disappointed.”
“You ain't sick of being disappointed, Tiffany,” Banks replied becoming irritated.. “If you were sick of being disappointed, you would stand up and you would take control of your destiny. Do you know that you had a possibility to win? Do you know that all of America is rooting for you?”
She added, “When my mother yells like this, it’s because she loves me. I was rooting for you! We were all rooting for you!”
Then, in a hugely tone deaf photo shoot in Season 13, Tyra had the girls partake in a "bi-racial" photo shoot, where several contestants were quite literally made to wear black face.
THEN in Season 19, contestant Kayla -- for the first time in her life -- opened up about being abused as a child, and was made to do a "sexy shoot" with a male model.
She had made it clear she really didn't want to be intimate with the male model and felt incredibly uncomfortable, but was told she should "tackle her problems by facing them head-on".
Shockingly, these aren't even all the scandals that have emerged from the now-controversial show.
In fact, there was also the time one model checked out of hospital early after suffering food poisoning in order to do a photoshoot, the time a girl gained weight and they humiliated her by making her shoots "fat themed", and the time one contestant got hypothermia from shooting in a freezing pool -- who was later blamed by the judges for not speaking up.
Oh, let's not forget all the tragic haircuts that were given to devastated contestants -- who were booted from the competition pretty much straight after.
In the series' 23rd season Tyra stepped down as host, replaced briefly by Rita Ora with Tyra still serving as an executive producer. The following season Tyra returned as host, and despite the show never officially being cancelled or renewed, she has maintained optimistic that a 25th season could still be in the works.