In a new open letter to the 19 Vogue editors who have agreed to ban images of women who ‘appear to have an eating disorder,’ Tyra Banks — former supermodel and host of “America’s Next Top Model” — praises the decision, but still criticizes the fashion industry, writing that her famous curves make her too big for most modeling gigs.
While she says Vogue is stepping up to the plate to make modeling a healthier career path, she stresses that the thin requirement is something set by the industry — which creates runway items in a teensy sample size. To keep working, says Banks, a model will do whatever it takes to fit into those clothes.
“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,” she writes at The Daily Beast. “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.”
Banks recounts what happened when she began to get “curvy.” She says her agency gave her mom a list of designers that no longer wanted to work with her. But Banks credits that moment for pushing her to even greater stardom.
“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.”
Tyra goes on to suggest that models be protected by a guild — a union that would set some basic rules on age, size and help to prevent discrimination or pressure to lose weight no matter the cost to one’s health.