Tyra Banks Launches Competition for Plus-Size Teen Models

Filed under: In The News

Tyra Banks addresses unflattering bathing suit photos that made waves a few years back on her talk show. Credit: Chris Polk, Warner Brothers / AP


Tyra Banks is looking for plus-sized teenage girls for her next modeling competition.

Banks announced the competition on her syndicated talk show Jan 25. The show's Web site says she wants "curvalicious" girls ages 13 to 19 -- and sizes 12 to 20 -- to enter. The girls also should be between 5-foot-9 and 6-foot-1, the supermodel tells US magazine.

"I've always felt it was my mission to expand the narrow perceptions of beauty," she tells the magazine. "Through 'America's Next Top Model,' 'True Beauty' and 'The Tyra Show,' I challenge industry and universal standards by featuring and celebrating nontraditional beauty and stressing that true beauty is both inside and out."

Banks is calling this latest competition the Fiercely Real Teen Model Search. Finalists will be announced on the March 2 episode of her show. The winner will be named the next day and receive a one-year modeling contract and a spread in a major fashion magazine.


Gigi Durham, a professor of journalism and mass communications at the University of Iowa, may not appreciate Banks' characterization of young girls as "curvalicious." Durham is the author of "The Lolita Effect," a book that argues that girls are too often and too soon turned into sexual objects.

"A lot of very sexual products are being marketed to very young kids," Durham says on her Web site. "I'm criticizing the unhealthy and damaging representations of girls' sexuality and how the media present girls' sexuality in a way that's tied to their profit motives."

Nonetheless, she would applaud Banks' attack on prevailing body images.

"The body ideals presented in the media are virtually impossible to attain, but girls don't always realize that, and they'll buy an awful lot of products to try to achieve those bodies," Durham adds. "There's endless consumerism built around that."

Changing body images is what this contest is all about, Banks tells US magazine.

"I want young girls to realize that what's considered plus-sized is the average American woman," Banks tells the magazine. "That woman is healthy, fit and beautiful. Adolescence is such an impressionable time in a young woman's life, and I hope this contest helps teen girls discover their own beauty from the inside out."

Related: Tyra Banks Announces End of Talk Show

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