In a new trailer promoting the 15th cycle of "America's Next Top Model," Banks seems out to shock when she fawns over a 6'2" model wannabe named Ann who is so alarmingly skinny we literally gasped while watching the clip.
Okay, so that's the fashion world's reaction...
Our reaction, if we saw this stick-thin waif on the street? We'd grab her, drag her to the nearest Denny's, and force one Grand Slam breakfast after another down her throat. But that's just us.
So, is Miss Tyra just trying to stir up some controversy to keep things fresh? Last season she pushed the envelope by having contestants wear "blackface" for a biracial-themed photo shoot.
Banks later apologized for the poorly received stunt, but there's no denying that it helped the show make headlines. And while the show has featured a number of plus-size models and "unconventional" contestants (blind, transgender, Asperger's, you name it), those stories had an inspirational, defying-the-odds slant.
Not so inspirational? Seeing judges drool (or pretend to drool) over a skeletal girl in an industry that already worships unrealistic size zero frames.
And though we've argued in the past that it's unfair to cast thin models as unhealthy, just as it's unfair to assume that a plus-size model is one Big Mac away from a heart attack, and that some people are just naturally skinny, if Ann is 6'2" it seems unlikely that she's anywhere near the healthy weight for her height. She makes a Photoshopped Ralph Lauren model look like Beth Ditto.
The past year has seen some major ups and downs in terms of body image.
Yes, plus-size model Crystal Renn walked the Chanel Resort runway... only to be virtually slimmed down in a photo shoot soon after.
Yes, fashion designers have proposed health regulations and age restrictions to help crack down on underweight models... while plus-size retailer Lane Bryant gets censored for daring to put a curvy bra-clad model in a prime-time ad.
For starters, in January "Australia's Next Top Model" judge Charlotte Dawson claimed that it was "tokenism" to cast plus-size models on the show, quipping that they'd at best get a gig modeling for Target. (Um, not too shabby.)
Were those comments despicable? Yes. Did they drum up publicity for the shows? Yes. Does it look like Tyra took notes? Hell yes.
It's a pity, not just for us "real-sized" women, but also for ultra-skinny girls like Ann who are being glorified for their unrealistic figures instead of getting the help -- and all-you-can-eat buffet -- they might need.
Oh, and Tyra... We were looking forward to the launch of your beauty and fashion site, but if, as the clip suggests, your idea of beauty is living on Tic Tacs and watercress, we'll pass.
What do you think of the ultra-skinny model in the clip and Tyra's choice to promote her? Leave a comment!