It was recently announced that Tyra Banks will be teaching a class at Stanford Business School, one of the most prestigious universities in the country. Of course it isn’t a surprise that someone like Tyra, who has been making business moves for the last two decades, is teaching this class; however, considering the fact that the business world is monopolized by men, it is noteworthy that a former supermodel has come this far, debunking many myths and stereotypes concerning beautiful women, particularly models. For this and many other feats, Tyra Banks should be recognized and celebrated.
Although she began her career as a supermodel, she continued to expand her brand and venture into several other projects. After some infamous years of modeling, she got into acting and eventually hosted her own daily talk show, wrote a best-selling novel, founded a cosmetics brand, and produced/ hosted on one of the most popular reality television shows in history. However, before I dive into all of these accomplishments, I’d like to discuss how much of a pioneer Miss Tyra Banks was when she first began her career as a model.
She was discovered at 15 years old and after being rejected by four modeling agencies she ended up signing with L.A Models, then went on to become one of the top earning models in the world. She was the first African-American woman to grace the covers of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and GQ and the first African-American chosen to be on the cover of the Victoria’s Secret Catalog. Later in her modeling career when her body developed, her curvy frame was celebrated and she confidently strutted down runways, inspiring girls and women everywhere. Fortunately, her connection to young women did not end with her modeling days; instead, she used her confidence and fearlessness to inspire girls in other ways.
I remember coming home every day after school as an awkward, insecure middle schooler looking for answers on the Tyra Show. The topics she discussed on her show ranged from the best makeup tips all the way to out of control teenagers. Whether she was discussing race, socioeconomic status, sexuality, or pretty much any and everything else, I always learned something by the end of the hour long show. She was never afraid to be vulnerable and show her true self in front of her audience, and she encouraged her guests as well as her audience to do the same. Now, six years later, I still have flashbacks to some of my favorite episodes that impacted my life and I miss turning on the television to witness her bright personality.
I didn’t really start watching American’s Next Top Model until after a few seasons, but then again I was only six when it first aired. There would be re-run marathons on MTV almost every weekend and my sister and I would watch it for hours. She gave young girls a glimpse of life as model, showing us that it takes hard work just like any other career. She also taught the contestants skills to use beyond the modeling world to help build a brand because it doesn’t have to stop at modeling; you can build something bigger. You can always build something bigger.
Tyra has been successful in everything she’s done because she works hard and spreads positivity and great messages to her fan base. Her accomplishments show me that the sky is the limit and no one has to be one-dimensional; you can literally do and be anything you want (as cliché as it sounds). Now, as she takes on yet another endeavor, it is only natural that it is in a classroom where she can share all the knowledge she has accumulated over the last two decades. With a new baby and family, it fills me with joy to see her continuing to reach for the stars and continue to achieve her goals, amidst all the wonderful changes in her life. She’s an inspiration to me and girls everywhere, and for that I thank her.