From the Runaway…to the Banks Part I by Chrystina Wyatt

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One of my favorite people in high school was Tyra Banks.  She was the host of two of my favorite shows, America’s Next Top Model and The Tyra Banks Show.  Her shows aimed at empowering women of all ages and sizes to embrace their features and love themselves.  Tyra Banks was an inspiration to me, as a very tall, slender girl, going through those awkward growing stages of high school.  She was not always the supermodel turned entertainment star we see today. Banks is a Los Angeles native and began her modeling career shortly after graduating high school.  Much like my early life experiences, she was teased and taunted for being tall and skinny.  Banks would get the last laugh because it was those same “punch-lines” that landed her start to fame.

Her initial attempts at a modeling career were unsuccessful. She was faced with rejection and discrimination when she began looking for modeling agencies at 17 in 1989.  Banks recalled agencies saying you are “too ethnic” and that they “already had a black woman and didn’t want another.” With persistence, she landed a contract with Elite Model Management, the largest modeling agency in the world, while she was still in high school.  That same year in 1990, she landed her first print piece with Seventeen Magazine. After graduation in 1991, she backed out of attending Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles to pursue modeling in Paris.

In Paris, she did high fashion modeling and became one of the world’s top supermodels.  In the mid-1990s, Banks began gaining weight, which was taboo for the “stick thin” modeling world.  She refused to starve herself and pick up unhealthy eating practices, so returned to the U.S.  She embraced her curves and made the switch from high fashion to swimwear and lingerie modeling.  Banks said “I made my living being 20 or 30 pounds heavier than the average model,” which I believe is an attribute to her success.




A+E Television Networks, LLC. (n.a.). (n.d.). Tyra Banks biography. Retrieved August 7, 2012 from

AETN UK. (n.a.). (n.d.). TYRA BANKS BIOGRAPHY. Retrieved August 7, 2012 from

AETN UK. (n.a.). 24 February 2012. TYRA BANKS SHOWS OFF BRAINS AS WELL AS BEAUTY. Retrieved from


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One response to “From the Runaway…to the Banks Part I by Chrystina Wyatt

  1. I think it is really cool to look at this and see how she overcame her trials. I for one did not know this side of Tyra Banks. I used to watch her Top Model show with my mom and by looking at her and the success she has had you would never know her back story was filled with disappointing times. This is a great story and I can’t wait to read the rest of it.
    -Joe Wise

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