Tyra Banks slammed after controversial ‘blackface’ photoshoot resurfaces

7 May 2020, 14:49

Tyra Banks is facing backlash over an &squot;bi-racial&squot; photoshoot which she insisted was "not racist".
Tyra Banks is facing backlash over an 'bi-racial' photoshoot which she insisted was "not racist". Picture: Getty/CW

An episode of America's Next Top Model saw a 'bi-racial' photoshoot take place.

Over the past week, Tyra Banks has been hit with major criticism after people began digging up some of her most 'problematic' moments of her career, particularly as a host on America's Next Top Model.

They include telling a model to get the gap between her two front teeth closed ("‘Do you really think you can have a Cover Girl contract with the gap in your mouth?" Tyra said), and making a contestant pose inside a casket the same week one of her friends died.

In one episode from 2009, Tyra, 46, encourages her contestants to pose in a 'bi-racial' photoshoot, where each model was made to look like a different race.

Footage shows a white model being told to wear makeup to look like "a traditionally African woman with a head-wrap", while another was to be transformed into a "Native American and East Indian".

After the clip resurfaced, people took to Twitter in disgust. "Tyra was out here normalizing Blackface. How is this woman not cancelled" wrote one user.

"Since we are on the topic of things Ms. Tyra Banks did during America’s Next Top Model, let’s remember how she did a photoshoot where she had models dressed up as “biracial beauties”. Her obsession with blackface and mixed race was so weird," said another.

The shoot sparked controversy when it aired, but at the time Tyra insisted that it wasn't racist during an apology issued on her talk show. "What we thought was a celebration turned out to be… very negative in some of the press and a lot of them were even saying that it was racism," she said.

"A lot of them went so far as to accuse me and 'Top Model' of putting the girls in black face... I want to be clear: I, in no way, put my Models in blackface. I'm a black woman. I am proud. I love my people and the struggle that we have gone through continues and the last thing that I would ever do is be a part of something that degraded my race."

"I’m sorry to anybody that watched Top Model and was offended by the pictures because they didn’t understand the real story behind them or even if you did see the whole episode and you were still offended, I truly apologise because that is not my intention."

She added, "My intention is to spread beauty and break down barriers."

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