‘Tyra Banks Should Be In Jail’ – Did America’s Next Top Model Go Too Far?

The series had some memorable twists and turns.


by grazia |
Updated on

We have always loved America's Next Top Model. For more than twenty seasons, the show aimed to discover the next big thing in fashion, crowning a gorgeous, talented model and sending her - or, occasionally, him - out into the world. The show may have debuted all the way back in 2003, but it is still causing conversation.

In the last few months, social media users around the world have been reappraising the series, perhaps due to lockdown enabling some binge watching. The show is still entertaining, but many viewers are hugely unhappy with the way host Tyra Banks treated the young women in the competition. A prevalent opinion is summed up by one tweet: 'Tyra Banks should’ve gone to jail for all the things she made happen on ANTM.' Interesting...

Incarceration may be excessive - nothing illegal occurred! - but the emotional crimes against women are countless. One recently unearthed clip sees Season 5 contestant Kim Stolz discuss how proud she is to be gay, and to express this in everyday life. Tyra seems supportive of this, but suggests that Kim reins in her pride to not be too explicit or alienating. That hasn't exactly aged well.

This is just one of many examples being cited online. Several tweets posted in recent weeks focus on Kahlen Rondot, Season 4's runner-up. Hours after finding out that an old friend had passed away, Kahlen was lowered into an open grave for a Seven Deadly Sins photoshoot taking place in a casket. Kahlen was later applauded for using her pain to guarantee a great picture.

The examples are endless. There was the time Tyra pretended to pass out to announce an acting challenge, terrifying the contestants in the process. She once told a whole roomful of girls that they had got through to the main competition only to announce that she was pulling their leg. She organised a controversial murder-themed shoot, and - perhaps most memorably - she lost her temper while sending home Season 4 contestant Tiffany. In short, Tyra Banks has never shied away from a dramatic moment that led to stress and upset.

Perhaps the most consistently criticised trend, though, came in makeover week, a regular occurrence in each series. While many of the contestants enjoyed a trim or a new fringe, there was always someone whose waist-length tresses got the chop. They inevitably cried, and rarely stuck around for much longer.

Then again, there is a valid counterpoint. Tyra has launched the careers of hundreds of young models, and made more than twenty seasons of successful, popular television that we are still talking about. Did she hurt some feelings along the way? Clearly. But maybe that's what you need to be on top.

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