Sunday, January 28, 2007

Tyra Banks: Normal is the new fat

The story goes that Tyra Banks googled her name plus the word fat. Try it. Results include this and this. Tyra was hurt. Tyra, it turns out, is not a cold-hearted superbitch who dances through a broken shoe heel, screws her head back on straight, spews out a self-righteous lecture, then spouts a speech nearly identical to the one that came the week before while shattering the dreams of America's Next Most Forgettable Personality.

Nope. Apparently, Tyra is not only the architect of a successful budding empire; she also has feelings, and those feelings are understandably offended by the cruelty of those who are gleefully peddling the image of "fat"-Tyra-in-a-swimsuit, and word that Tyra's weight is out of control since her "retirement" last year.

In her supermodel heydays, Tyra looked something like this. She weighed in the 120s. Now, her weight is fluctuating, but Tyra says her top weight has been around 161 pounds.

Let's put this in perspective: At 5'10", that weight places Tyra's Body Mass Index (BMI) within the normal range. In fact, according to this BMI calculator, Tyra's top weight is in the 36th percentile for other women her age and height. In other words, approximately 36 percent of women her age and height weigh less. Again, this means Tyra weighs less than average at her top, post-retirement weight. At her lowest post-retirement weight, around 140, she is in the 11th percentile, and also in the normal range. If she weighed 120 now, she would be underweight, and under the 2nd percentile.

I'm not sure how sorry to feel for Tyra. I think she looks great for an android. (Sure, she is not wearing a swimsuit in this photo. Raise your hand if you are over 30 and think you look good in a swimsuit.) Though I am not Tyra's biggest fan, I respect her. It takes a strong person to withstand the kind of criticism she is getting without racing to the toilet. But I watch ANTM. I've watched her tell countless young model-hopefuls with a dab of belly fat that they need to lose weight to compete. This may be reality, but I wonder if she could do more than perpetuate the status quo from her influential position.

It is the rest of us, however, that allow the reality to exist. We may rail against the fashion and modeling industries for their treatment of women's sizing and body weight. We may lament the epidemic of eating disorders among young girls. Yet when a fashion and modeling industry icon "balloons" to a normal and healthy weight, she is widely ridiculed. Those of us who think this is ridiculous need to speak up louder than the image-peddlers if we want to be heard.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I find it horrible what people are saying about Tyra Banks. She isn't fat nor skinny . The reason topmodels are that thin is because designers have less work, ....
The average woman in the US isn't as tall as Tyra and probably weighs the same . The paparazzi should find another subject to attract more readers ,
response from Belgium, Brussels