As one of the OG supermodels, Tyra Banks has been the longtime face of Victoria’s Secret, made history with her Sports Illustrated swim cover, and challenged us all to perfect our smize on “America’s Next Top Model.” Still, since she's a model of color, her journey toward superstar status was filled with the microaggressions that Black models continue to encounter today.
In an interview with W Magazine, Banks shared how she almost lost one of her first Victoria’s Secret jobs because of her hair texture.
"I was sent home the first day because the hairdresser didn’t know what to do with my African American hair, so it looked crazy," Banks said to W Magazine.
She "almost lost" her chance to be a Victoria's Secret model due to the lack of skilled hairdressers. A year later she tried again, but instead she had her own stylist do her hair before the shoot.
"[I] walked in, got my makeup done, didn’t let the hair people touch me, went to the bathroom, redid my face, put on extra lip gloss, and walked on that set," Banks continued.
Since then, Banks has made history.
"Cut to a 10-year contract. I’m the first [B]lack woman on the cover of their catalog; I’m the first [B]lack woman to have a contract, to be an Angel, to wear a Fantasy Bra—all of these different things, because I stopped silently suffering," she said.
She also applauded the company for acknowledging her hair texture in later years. "After that, they hired people who could do my hair for 10 years," she noted. She also shared that she was proud of newer Black models who use social media to call out injustices and discrimination within the industry.
It's great to see Black models, from supermodels like Tyra Banks to fresher up-and-coming models, keep this conversation going.
When models who have such a wide platform like Banks encourage other Black models to speak up, it shows there is power in numbers. Through their voices, we'll hopefully see beauty standards begin to shift so fashion diversifies on the runways and beyond.