Tyra Banks apologized today if she offended anyone with the recent photo shoot featured on "America's Next Top Model" where contestants were painted in dark makeup to depict bi-racial women.

"I apologize because that was not my intent," said Banks."It's my number one passion in my life to stretch the definition of beauty. I listen to many heartbreaking stories of women who thought they would be happier if they looked different. I want every girl to appreciate the skin she's in."

The explanation took up the first seven minutes of her daily talk show, "The Tyra Banks Show" which today featured the contestants from her reality show for aspiring models. She spoke emotionally about her desire to create something beautiful with the shoot, and said she was proud of it. Banks also mentioned her own struggles as a black model in an industry that is dominated by white models.

One audience member, who had written a letter to Banks, said the episode made her see her own bi-racial heritage in a more positive light.

The controversial episode of "ANTM" sparked debate both in the media and among viewers; some critics saw the use of dark makeup as bordering on blackface.

In the shoot, models were made up to depict various racial and ethnic combinations, such as "Russian-Moroccan," "Native American-East Indian" and "Botswanan-Polynesian."

Banks said the goal was to create an editorial celebration of the "Hapa," the Hawaiian word and concept of mixed race. Coincidentally, two prominent fashion magazines – French Vogue and V -- also recently featured white models painted in dark makeup.



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