tyra banksWhen Vogue's 19 international editions pledged to ban models from their pages who "appear to have an eating disorder," in an effort to create healthy backstage working conditions, I wouldn't doubt that there was negative tongue-clucking coming from pockets of the fashion world (cough Karl Lagerfeld). But one fashionista vet has stood up and applauded the move. That would be model, America's Next Top Model host, and all-around kickass businesswoman Tyra Banks.

Tyra has always come off as a major proponent of healthy body image, but it wasn't long ago that she was fighting her own battle with her curves. In response to the Vogue news, she wrote an open letter on The Daily Beast addressed to other models, explaining how her own kicking that neat and tidy, "skinny" box to the curb ultimately lead to her success.

Tyra writes:

In my early 20s I was a size four. But then I started to get curvy. My agency gave my mom a list of designers that didn't want to book me in their fashion shows anymore. In order to continue working, I would've had to fight Mother Nature and get used to depriving myself of nutrition.

Worse yet, Tyra admits she was living in a different world at the time, in which the average model's size was a four or a six. She says that if she was just starting to model at age 17 now, she "would've been considered too heavy" because "today you are expected to be a size zero." And she explains that it's the fashion industry's fault, because there's a standardized sample size, and many models are just doing whatever they can (i.e. starve themselves) to keep working. Bad news. 

I've always heard that, too, and thought, well, then someone from the inside needs to make a change, or we'll continue to see these emaciated women everywhere, wreaking havoc on women's self-image. And that's why Vogue's move is even more groundbreaking. They are the industry, and finally, it seems like they've opened their eyes to something Tyra learned so long ago. That her body didn't have to be pin-thin for her to be beautiful or a winner in her field.

As she details in her open letter:

[My mom and I] sat in a tiny pizzeria in Milan and strategized about how to turn my curves into a curveball. In a way, it was my decision not to starve myself that turned me into a supermodel, and later on, a businesswoman.

So inspirational. Sounds like Tyra really practices what she preaches, having served as a mentor and a liaison for young models battling the fashion industry to balance their livelihood with their lives. With hope, she and Vogue can start a real trend. If so, it's not just models who will benefit -- we all will.

Here's more on Tyra's open letter ...

 

How do you feel about Vogue's decision and Tyra's reflections? Do you think the fashion industry is doing us all a favor by banning anorexic models?


Image via David Shankbone/Flickr