Tyra Banks has been a supermodel, a hero to young women struggling with self-esteem issues, and the head of her own empire. But she still manages to connect with young women in a way that makes America's Next Top Model resonate. Yes, even in its 19th Cycle.
At the ANTM Cycle 19 premiere party on August 22 at the Tribeca Grand in New York City, Wetpaint Entertainment spoke with the host about the lowest point in her life when it comes to self-worth, what inspired her to create Cycle 19: College Edition, and which parts of her body she considers “saggy.”
Wetpaint Entertainment: You’re known for being anti-bullying. When were you teased and bullied in the past?
Tyra Banks: My whole life, that’s what I stand for, why I want to expand the definition of beautiful girls. When I was 11, I grew three inches and lost 30 pounds in three months, and I was 5’9” and 98 pounds. Believe me, I had the lowest self-esteem of my life. I went to the doctor every week, getting needles poked and prodded in my skin to try and figure out what was wrong with me. There was nothing wrong with me. I had a growth spurt, there was nothing I could do to gain weight, and it’s so funny because the doctor I would go to every week to get the needles and the testing? That office building is no longer their office building, it’s now the America’s Next Top Model office building. It’s crazy.
Years later, when I was a model, a high-fashion model in Paris, doing Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent and Dior and all the high-fashion work, then I started to gain weight. Then I got letters and notes from my agents saying that I couldn’t do certain fashion shows because I gained weight. And later, when I retired from modeling and got real thick, and hotter in my opinion... I’ve been through all of it, that’s why I kind of relate to everyone.
You were recently quoted saying that plastic surgery is fantastic.
I am so not against [plastic surgery] and I don’t like it when supermodels say that they are, because it’s not fair, and it’s like, what are you talking about? Your mother and father created this genetic thing that’s on the cover of magazines ... how dare you say that you’re against it? That was my point.
So you’re open to it in the future?
Why not? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.
Are there any parts of your body that you have issues with?
I think my butt is not as good, it’s kinda saggy. My boobs are kind of saggy, but I feel like my face is better. My mom told me that she feels like I’m going to be my best looking self in my forties. I do feel better looking in my face.
What inspired you to do a college edition of ANTM?
I was at Harvard off and on for three years before graduation, and I actually stated mentoring a model that goes to Harvard, and so me being there and her visiting my dorm at the business school, and me going across the river and visiting her in her dorm, and seeing her juggle modeling and Harvard... And she’s an Econ major, she’s super-smart, she’s on the Card Counting team, she’s just like this genius. I was like, I need to show girls that this is possible, that you can get your education and you can model, and I happen to be doing it later in life but I still got my education, so I just want to push that. And it doesn’t need to be Ivy League you know, I have girls in beauty school, we have girls in online classes. I just feel like any kind of education is going to give you a leg up. Right now I’m hiring in my company and I just hired somebody and she just got an MBA.
Catch the premiere of America's Next Top Model Cycle 19: College Edition on Friday, August 24 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.
Molly Friedman is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @MollyFriedman.
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