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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Thursday, February 01, 2007

You reap what you sow

Tyra Banks is not fat. There, I said it.

It's no great revelation. And it has zero significance to the betterment of the world. But there is something badly wrong with our image(s) of size when she gets labeled as fat because of a bad camera angle in a tabloid. She's gained weight. So what. What makes models so super anyway?

That being said, I know I'm not the only one who finds some irony in the fact that Banks is on the fat defensive, and she has made a habit of cutting thicker women out of her show "America's Next Top Model" over the past several years - not because they didn't have potential as models, but because they were just a little too hefty.

Every winner of that show so far has been rail thin...not that there's anything wrong with that. And while Banks has a panel of judges, she is the judge.

Maybe there was no malice involved in keeping bigger women from making it to the finals on that show - or making it on the show, period.

But Banks sowed seeds of perpetuating that skinny model image and now she's reaping the backlash 'cause she no longer meets the standard for perfection that she helped set on that show.

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  • If Tyra is fat what does that make me?!!

    By Blogger Winter, at 11:50 AM  

  • Ooh, this isn't quite accurate. As a religious Top Model viewer (shhh), I can tell you that Tyra has never kept silent on the weight issue. She's a loud advocate of healthfulness in the fashion industry and goes head-to-head with anyone on the show who complains about the girls being "fat". She accused Janice Dickinson and Nigel Barker of being "what's wrong with the industry," when they were critical of the plus-sized girls, but she keeps being out-voted by the other judges.

    If you are hearing anything contrary to this in the press these days, it's because the people writing this stuff haven't been watching the show. (I've never missed one.)

    By Blogger Yvette, at 12:10 PM  

  • I'm wondering what her stand is on anorexic models? I think the industry needs to start screaming about that craziness. Anyway, you're right she is reaping her reward.

    Of course, I know lots of fat people who live in glass houses and throw stones.

    By Blogger Hammer, at 12:14 PM  

  • Winter, we could all ask that question - even the dudes reading this.

    Yvette, I stand corrected. Although, I have to tell you I did write that decisions are made on the show by a panel of judges. Still, do you really think that if she wanted to make a statement that hefty size is OK she couldn't have figured out a way to overrule the other judges? I mean she's one of the show's executive producers. The EPs controll staffing and purse strings. Surely she could have put her foot down before now and told the other judges "Whether you guys like it or not, we're gonna mix up the cast this year and include some larger models."

    Hammer, Yvette says Tyra preaches healthy living for models. So I believe her (Yvette, not Tyra). But maybe she can use this opportunity to be a little more vocal. I don't like how they banned too-skinny models in some places in Europe. That's a little much. There needs to be a deeper change, where people aren't brainwashed into thinking that's a healthy, sexy look.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 1:16 PM  

  • She really is NOT fat, but I don't feel bad that she's on the defensive - she's had every chance to change the perception of models, to usher in a new era, blah, blah, blah - and she hasn't. She's played it safe and played into existing stereotypes.

    She loves to hammer over our heads how "real" she is - going on her show w/out make-up, going through a day as a fat person - but where's she's really had a chance to make a difference, however small, she failed.

    So yeah, she's reaping what she's sown.

    By Blogger Tere, at 1:34 PM  

  • (hitting myself in the head with a cinderblock)

    By Blogger Queen of Dysfunction, at 1:40 PM  

  • How about this then--I don't care how big you are, as long as you don't look like Big Momma, you get a shot with me. Skinny girls--every one of you that has a baby will get fat and look like your mother--if your girl was big to begin with she will look less disproportionately sized and still look good (providing, of course, she don't turn into Big Momma)

    Men--it's time to take the bigger girl back! Odds are she can cook, will envelope you with her love, and won't be in a position to make you feel so bad when your own spare tire comes in.

    Tyra is not fat or big--she is just no longer unhealthily thin. If you watch old movies with classy broads like Joan Crawford, Barbara Stanwyk, Elizabeth Taylor, the Hepburn Sisters, Eva Marie Saint, Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, Lena Horne, Josephine Baker--those women were not rail thin and far from it. They had great bodies. One of my favorite TV chickens of all time was Barbara Billingsley--nuclear missle bra and all. Those ladies would beat todays Buffys down like Ali did Liston--standing over them screaming "WHAT!!!"

    By Anonymous Big Daddy, at 2:57 PM  

  • Interestingly enough, a group of us were having a conversation recently about how the word "healthy" is now used to describe girls who are pudgy, but not quite fat.

    I love seeing America Ferrerra and Jennifer Hudson receiving accolades and looking glamorous at the award shows...

    As for Tyra, she should use this latest tabloid photo to promote healthier models on her show. I watch a LOT of ANTM, and they could stand to have some less waif-ly girls on there.

    By Blogger Tiggerlane, at 3:43 PM  

  • Despite their title, I think anyone who models themselves after these people needs a reality adjustment. Today's modeling industry has become akin to a circus side show. Let's start using people of substance, (such as famous columnists at major metropolitan newspapers,) as role models and we'll all be in a better place.

    By Anonymous The Sarcasticynic, at 4:15 PM  

  • Healthy? I'm just looking for a girl that's "sturdy."

    (Don't want her tipping over or anything while I'm trying to give her a proper rogering.)

    By Blogger Matt, at 4:25 PM  

  • It would certainly help her look more normal-sized if she didn't wear her weave in a style that makes her look like Miss Piggy.

    By Blogger bc, at 5:12 PM  

  • You know, I re-thought that comment and figured I should clarify: people calling women that look like Tyra fat makes me want to injure myself. Not your blog.

    (Slams her fingers in a car door)

    By Blogger Queen of Dysfunction, at 5:15 PM  

  • She's a strong and outspoken woman. I give her that. I, however, realize that her show is successful because of ratings and if she starts turning her show into a plus size model mill, which there is nothing wrong with in my opinion, her show won't be on the air much longer after. Sad to say but American society is into the Teri Hatcher Desperate Housewives anorexic look.

    By Blogger C, at 9:54 PM  

  • Wow, I have seen post after post about those pictures (including one of my own). I agree with you--she's not fat. I love how she reacted to the photos.

    By Blogger Bird on a Wire, at 10:29 PM  

  • Tyra Banks is hot! I hope you found this comment to be useful and insightful James.

    By Blogger captain corky, at 11:15 PM  

  • Tere, I hear you. This whole thing is messed up but I don't feel very sorry for her either.

    Queen, wear a helmet.

    BD, as with all "attractions," I saw more power to you 'cause I believe in different strokes...

    Tiggerlane, I agree - Jennifer Hudson and America F. have been looking beautiful and graceful. Funny thing is I haven't once contemplated their size when I've seen the two of them at these awards shows.

    Sarc, I like the way you think. I'm gonna tell Dave Barry we need him on the runway asap ;-)

    Matt, you're a bad, bad man.

    BC, you are cold! But there is truth in every joke. Some hair do's can make you look bigger, smaller, wider, thinner. She might want to adjust hers to accomodate her recent additions.

    Queen, still wear a helmet. We can't have you damaging that brain ;-)

    C, you're right too. All commentary aside, Tyra's show is still a business. And if viewers, advertisers, and her network want rail thin contestants only, it's only good business sense for her to comply.

    Bird, her reaction was strong. I gotta give it to her. A lot of people would have gone and curled up in the fetal position and eaten a half gallon of ice cream after that kind of criticism. She snapped back.

    Capt., I salute you for aiding in my "research."

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 12:29 AM  

  • Blogroll is fixed. Thanks for the heads up.

    By Blogger Hammer, at 12:41 AM  

  • No worries, Hammer. Great minds think alike.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 12:44 AM  

  • Ive never watched her show.
    I did see a little excerpt on Good Morning America (I think that's what I was watching) and she said she was hiring several plus size models to counteract the skinny biz.

    By Blogger Pamela, at 5:12 PM  

  • Men--it's time to take the bigger girl back! Odds are she can cook, will envelope you with her love, and won't be in a position to make you feel so bad when your own spare tire comes in.

    Preach it, Big Daddy!

    By Blogger GrizzBabe, at 4:01 AM  

  • James, did you see her on Larry King? She lashed out at her producers for making decisions that she didn't agree with in regards to the "heavier" models.

    I love Tyra. Yeah, she was a model. So what? Who better than an insider to "work" this angle on the industry? If she had been plain Jane no one would be listening to her so at least she is raising awareness. Besides her talk show is all about being healthy both physically and mentally. She has a non-profit organization that helps women too. What other former model is doing this kind of work?

    I think this whole Tyra is Fat thing is fantastic coming on the heels of the anorexic model deaths and the changes on the runways about too-skinny models. This isn't so much about Tyra but about many women out there feeling understood and represented by the mainstream media.

    By Blogger Manola Blablablanik, at 1:55 PM  

  • You hit the proverbial nail right square on its head here.

    She's reaping what she sowed. How entirely ironic.

    By Blogger thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy, at 11:33 AM  

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