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M. Lopez
31st January 2007, 22:59
The whole media flap about Tyra Banks is a little silly, because Tyra is still so very thin. Only in a time as hostile to womanly curves as ours could anyone see her otherwise.

However, to her credit, Tyra does seem to be using this as an opportunity to spread a fairly positive message. In the early PR about this issue, she seemed a bit ambivalent about being called fuller-figured; but, she appeared on Larry King on Monday night, and there, at least, the message was quite positive.

The transcript is here:

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0701/29/lkl.01.html

A few things shood out.

It's nice to hear Tyra say "I like to eat. I'm not obsessed with working out." And bravo to her for telling a mother whose daughter is concerned about her size that in fact, the daughter's weight is "kind of still on the small side to me."

Also bravo to her for apparently taking tabloid editors to task about constantly promoting skeletors like Nicole Ritchie:

I kind of confronted them to say why put so much emphasis on this girl and say that she's a fashion icon now, when she's super, super thin and you weren't saying that when she had a more curvy figure? you want to talk about hypocritical, you know? Like I think it's so sad that there's these actresses and people out there and you're saying they're so skinny, they're so skinny, they're so skinny and then the -- but you're -- but at the same time, they're calling them the fashion icons. And they weren't fashion icons when they were thicker, but they are now when they're thinner.

Or to -- also, to attack people that have gained weight or -- you know, I just, it's -- like, I think it's really sick. Exactly. Whether praising or criticizing anorexic celebrities, putting them on covers just encourages the behaviour. Not until plus-size celebrities are given more publicity will matters actually change.

On weight:
There's one celebrity -- I won't say her name. She's very famous. And she said that she's always been scared to say how much she weighs. And now that I said on "People" magazine that I weigh 161 pounds right now, she said that just has liberated her because she feel fine when she looks in the mirror, but the number on the scale kills her. And she says now she feels free and OK to talk about her number...I don't look like I'm 161 pounds. But this is what 161 pounds looks like when you're 5'10," you know? 161 pounds IS very little, and at 5'10, that's willowy. Good for her for pointing this out. It's also why Tyra was right to stipulate that her full-figured top model contests had to be over 200 lbs. All of this stigma about numbers needs to be neutralized.

And bravo to her for correcting Larry King when he used a size-negative term:

KING: Aren't there some work for overweight women, to show overweight kind of dresses for size 16s?

BANKS: You mean overweight or full-figured?

KING: Full-figured. Full-figured.

BANKS: Get it right, Larry. It's not overweight.

KING: OK. Full-figured.

BANKS: Full-figured. Yes, there is work for full-figured.

KING: That's a market, isn't it?

BANKS: Yes. And we have full-figured girls on Top Model. In fact, I have been wanting to do this for so long, for cycle eight, which starts on February 28th, we're actually going to have two plus-size models on Top Model...there are two beautiful full-figured models on the show. It's not like a token like we just throw in one just because I have been fighting for two girls for so long and finally got my way.This IS a good development, because the previous contestants did seem marginal (and not curvy enough either). If these two candidates are genuinely attractive, and size 14 or better, it will be a real boost.

The only drawback I found was that she wouldn't address the real problem: the fashion industry, and the designers and editors who impose the tyranny of thinness.

Twice, Larry King actually asked the question that is THE central point ("Why does the media resist plus-size beauty?"), and twice Tyra dodged the question:

KING: Why don't they want well-busted women?

BANKS: Well-busted women? Well, you know, when I was a fashion model, a high fashion model -- this was like 15 years ago -- certain designers would bind my breasts down with Ace bandages.

KING: But why? Why is that? KING: Wait. I'm a little lost. Isn't -- wouldn't most women desire a curvy figure?

BANKS: You know, I...

KING: Isn't curvy good?...Why can't everybody just be that -- that be the model? I can understand her reluctance to attack the industry that made her a star. Nevertheless, this is the question that needs to be answered. Once the answer is given, and it's revealed to be arbitrary and indefensible ("I just want it that way" is the basis of their position), the fashion industry won't have a leg to stand on. Until that happens, the fashion industry will never stop imposing its death aesthetic.

Still, all in all, a rather positive appearance, thankfully (mostly) free of mixed messages. Tyra seems to be handling this issue in a generally constructive way.

klara
1st February 2007, 09:30
BANKS: Well-busted women? Well, you know, when I was a fashion model, a high fashion model -- this was like 15 years ago -- certain designers would bind my breasts down with Ace bandages.I think that is the most obvious example to show that those certain high fashion designers don't want women to model their clothing. For heaven's sake, why can't they just use men if they don't like women.

MelanieW
2nd February 2007, 08:41
Sadly, I missed the Tyra Banks episode (already famous) in which fought back against her critics, but this video shows the defiant moment that everyone is talking about. Warning - the language is a little strong:

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Its remarkable to see the reactions from the audience. They have tears in their eyes - as does Tyra herself. The emotions seem very genuine. It reminds me of Christina Schmidts inspiring scene on Degrassi, when her character, Terri, told off the boy who was making nasty comments about her.

I hope this inspires more women (celebrities and non-celebrities alike) to scorn any and all negative comments about their curves, and indeed to reject all of the rampant weight hysteria thats in society today.

From the clip, it seemed like Tyra next led into a commentary about the three models who have tragically died of anorexia, recently. Whatever the rest of the show was like, I think this segment made it truly helpful.

kirsten
2nd February 2007, 15:48
Melanie, thanks for sharing that YouTube clip.

And of course, thanks to Tyra for her efforts. Sometimes strong words from an advocate like Tyra who is willing to make these issues public are needed to get this message through to the fashion industry and other parts of the population that are being so willfully blind to how women are being harmed--and hounded into an early death.

Arcturus
4th February 2007, 03:16
First off, let me just say what a fan I am of the site and forum. I've been lurking for a while and finally joined, and I think the site and forum are magnificent. Being in high school, I am not exactly in a positive environment (or really an environment at all) for discussing plus-size beauty, and generally my opinion is rejected. So I think the site and forum provide a great way to actually see women who aren't like the skeletons ubiquitously seen elsewhere. Also, I'm a bit of a Classics enthusiast, so I enjoy all of the anitquity and art.

As for Tyra, I greatly respect her after this. It takes a lot more courage to speak out against an industry one is a part of, than simply another group. I look forward to her next Top Model, which is supposed to feature two plus-size competitors, but I'm still skeptical of it, what with Janice Dickenson and the like. But bravo to Tyra nonetheless.