Tuesday, January 30, 2007

If Tyra Banks Is Fat, Then I'm Brad Pitt

Can you believe people are debating whether Tyra Banks is fat?

So I'm running around doing a long list of errands today when I see the front cover of the February 5, 2007 issue of People magazine on newsstands now with a picture of former supermodel Tyra Banks with the caption "You Call This Fat?" blasted across it. Say what?! This immediately captured my attention, so I opened up the magazine flipped through the article.

Despite the fact that Tyra Banks was once considered the epitome of "the look" that Hollywood and the entertainment industry has tried to convince women everywhere about what it means to be "perfect," now turnabout is fair play as even Banks herself is being judged by her own impossibly high standard. Impossible, you say? Well, it's true and she doesn't like it one bit.

Banks on the cover of Sports Illustrated's 1997 Swimsuit issue

It all centers around the fact that Banks has gained about 30 pounds on her 5'10" frame from the petite waistline she displayed during the height of her career in the late 1990s. Now that she has been retired from that life for the past two years and moved on to other passions including a highly successful television talk show and a primetime reality show, the 33-year old Banks in 2007 weighs a modest 161 pounds.

At her current height and weight, Banks is still considered "normal weight" according to her BMI reading of 23.1. But it goes back to the fact that she has always been seen as a very thin model throughout most of her career. So the general public perception is that she's fat compared to what she used to weigh when in actuality she's now "normal" perhaps for the first time in her life. Oh the horrors!

Too bad for Banks that reality has not stopped the media from being their typical ruthless selves in poking fun at her expense, describing her in headlines as "America's Next Top Waddle" or "Tyra Porkchop." Can you believe we live in a society that thinks that picture of Tyra Banks on the front cover of People magazine is of a fat person?! Man, we are one mixed up culture!

Tyra Banks decided to fight back against being called "fat"

In an exclusive interview with People magazine this week, ironically the same publication that featured a cover story just a few weeks back on Americans who are now "Half Their Size?" after enormous weight loss, Banks lashed out at her critics in the media who she said exhibited "a strange meanness" when they were overjoyed claiming she was "fat."

"It was really hurtful to me," Tyra told People.

What's interesting is Banks didn't even know about the "fat" cat calls that were happening in the media until a flight attendant on a trip back from Australia told her she didn't think Banks looked as fat as "they" said she did.

"I had no clue what the woman was talking about," Banks admitted.

But now she knows and she has chosen to use her star status symbol to address this extremely hostile topic for the sake of herself and her fans. Banks said so many girls STILL idolize what she looks like today despite the fact that she's not as thin as she once was and these claims that she is "ugly" and "disgusting" for putting on a few pounds is actually hurting the self-image of those young girls.

"What does that make those girls feel like?" Banks continued with People. "I still feel hot, but every day is different."

Some would argue that Banks herself made little girls feel bad about themselves by the image she portrayed during her modeling career since it was impossible to ever attain for most of them. Even still, you can tell this is really bothering her to the point that she's saying something about it.

Banks is now getting to feel what it is like to deal with the day-to-day struggle of keeping her weight and health in line. You have to admit, it's a little funny in an evil, maniacal way hearing this supermodel that every guy in America used to drool over telling stories like this one.

"It's when I put on the jeans that used to fit a year ago and don't fit now and give me the muffin top, that's when I say, 'Damn!' I feel more comfortable when I'm lighter--I sleep better, I snore less, I have more endurance when I work out, my arms look better," Banks explained to People.

Tyra Banks has a "muffin top" when putting on jeans? And she snores, too? Hey, she IS like most of us, isn't she?! She admits this experience has given her "pain" because it hurts her being portrayed as "fat" after so many years of making beauty her moneymaker in her career. But "fat" is not a word she wants synonymous with her name because "usually it's just gross."

"Being fat is cool if you're a sumo wrestler or a circus freak or a hot dog eating champion," Banks contended to People. "I'm not saying fat people can't be sexy, they just have to be clever about it. You know, like printing out a full sized poster of a supermodel and taping it to their neck. Or getting everybody in the world drunk. Or not being fat."

I have no idea what that quote is about, but I THINK she's saying people who are overweight should be striving to lose weight doing what they can to make it happen. To a former supermodel, being described as "fat" and by inference "ugly" must be the absolute worst thing you could possibly say. That's indicative in her quote about "fat" people.

Remember Tyra in the 350-pound "fat" suit? Now THIS was fat!

You may recall the publicity stunt that Banks conducted in late 2005 wearing a "fat" suit that made her look like a 350-pound woman which made her artificially realize the abuse that overweight and obese people endure just because of their size has taken a cruel twist of fate. Now the comments she is receiving are real and about HER! Unbelievable, isn't it?

The fact is Tyra Banks is STILL a hottie even with the extra weight, which she says has fluctuated between 148 and 162 pounds since she left her modeling career (if you want to know what being REALLY "fat" is for a former hottie actress, just ask Catherine Bach who played Daisy Duke from the original Dukes Of Hazzard television show). She permits her weight to be higher now because it gives her more credibility with her audience to be "relatable" as one of them. That's probably a good move on her part, too, because the average woman will connect with her like they do Oprah. Or at least that's what her producers hope will happen.

We've seen this controversial issue of weight gain and image recently with such famous people as Kirstie Alley, Katie Couric, Patricia Arquette, and Britney Spears. And Tyra Banks won't be the last either.

Why is our culture so obsessed with famous people and their weight? Has the entertainment world gotten to be so boring that now we must nitpick at something as irrelevant and mundane as gaining a few pounds? Come on people, get a life!

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Blogger Angela said...

Hey Jimmy, I saw Tyra on Larry King last night and she was fantastic. She is strong independent woman. She realizes the impact she has on young girls and addresses weight and self-confidence issues on her show all the time. I try to watch when I can. She also has a camp called T Zone to help with self-esteem issues in young girls. She said on Larry King that she has also added a couple of plus models to her upcoming season on Americas Top Model. She made me feel its okay to weigh more than 160. I am 5'11" and right now 189 thanks to Kimmer and my goal is to be 160 and Tyra has made me feel that it okay to be a curvy woman and stand up proud.

1/30/2007 10:46 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS for your comments, Angela, and I agree with you about Tyra. She IS doing good bringing this message to the limelight and I have caught her talk show from time to time when she discusses image.

Maybe she can help us deal with this perfectionist ideal we have about women because of models and others in the entertainment industry and bring some reality back to the conversation.

I'm glad Tyra is helping you feel better about yourself as you deal with your weight. God bless you and keep at it, okay? :)

1/30/2007 11:12 PM  
Blogger teapotsgalore said...

Wow! I'm 5'11" and have gotten down to 148 lbs, but Tyra at 161 looks a whhhhooooolllle lot better than I do :) It's something about where the curves are - LOL!

1/31/2007 12:43 PM  
Blogger Alfred P. Doolittle said...

A few things:

1- Hate for Tyra for warping young girls minds is hating a player instead of the game. There have been skinny unreal models (I think 2% of women can have "model bodies" according to men's health) for longer than Tyra has roamed the earth, and, barring the 100% obesity crisis predicted, there will be skinny unrealistic models until the roaches rule the earth. Tyra took her talents and made some bucks. Not worthy of our hate, though the modeling business (and the hard wiring that make us buy stuff because they come with images of unrealistically skinny tall models) are worthy.

2- We forgot Kelly LeBrock from the list of women who used to be unrealistically thin/sexy and then started to eat. Though she made great strides on Celebrity Fat Club 3.

3- Tyra is not famous for being a brilliant brain surgeon or an astronaut or really anything other than using her tall thin body with out sized mammaries (hey, no Hate, I like it too) to sell us stuff. Tyra is in our collective consciousness for being pretty, tall, thin, and big boobed, with a mobile and interesting face, and when she puts on a few pounds, it's like Einstein popping a 105 on an IQ test in his later years, or Michael Jordan with the Wizards. The magic, the exceptional, the raison-d'attendre is gone. Is it worthy of cover space? On People? Sure. The NY Times, not so much.

Last thing: Tyra sells stuff. That's what modeling is about. Wear this, or hold that, look sexy, cute, fierce, whatever, and hope people buy it. This is way not hate worthy. As I see it, Jimmy, you aren't very different. You have something that makes you interesting (your weight loss and excellent blog, all that goes with that) and you use it to sell stuff. Good for you and, by extension, good for Tyra.

1/31/2007 3:36 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Hey Alfred,

You'll get no argument from me about your points--I AGREE! :)

I never said I hated Tyra for putting the unrealistic image out there. What I wrote was that there are those who believe that and now they are basking in the glory of criticizing her weight.

There were a LOT more examples I could have shared, including Ms. LeBrock, but I think it's more common than people want to think about. What's Britney Spears going to look like in 20 years, hmmm?

I agree Tyra is using this for publicity because any publicity is good publicity for her career. It's in her financial interest to do so and good for her!

Again, we completely agree! THANKS for your comments!

1/31/2007 3:44 PM  
Blogger Gary Dempster said...

I think Tyra Banks is the hottest woman on earth - whether she weighs 131, 161, or 191. Of all those (younger) women on ANTM, not ONE was as hot as Tyra. She may be the only truly sexy supermodel, perhaps ever now that we're in the era of anorexia/bulimia. My wife and her sister have similar builds (I'm not saying they're as hot as Tyra, but maybe :) - they both suffer from terrible body image issues (they're French, where they truly only think very skinny women can be sexy). It is so sad that our human society is so repressive, isn't it? Let's pray that we can heal ourselves!

6/13/2008 6:51 PM  

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