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Tyra Banks on Body Positivity and the Term “Plus-Size”

Posted by on January 15, 2014

Tyra Banks is sort of a polarizing figure. Some people love her, some people hate her. Personally, I’m just fascinated by her. The supermodel has been criticized for her fluctuating weight over the years and the tabloids have been quick to jump on her whenever a picture surfaces of her looking less than Victoria’s Secret-runway-ready.

What I do respect Tyra for, however, is her unapologetic “girl power” vibe that she tries to exude via her different media outlets. In fact, her very memorable “Kiss my fat a**!” speech that she gave in a 2006 episode of “The Tyra Show” was named as one of TV Guide’s 60 Greatest Talk Show Moments. In my humble opinion, the honor was well deserved (you can view the entire monologue below).

The inspiring and brief speech was spurred by tabloid criticism of Tyra in a bathing suit when she looked a little curvier than usual. Plus, you could even see some cellulite (gasp!). In the show, Tyra stood next to the criticized photo wearing the same brown one-piece bathing suit and let her haters have it. “If I had lower self esteem, I would probably be starving myself right now. But that’s exactly what is happening to other women all over this country,” Tyra said. She ended the 90 second speech with the incredibly satisfying exclamation, “Kiss my fat a**!”

Tyra Banks

Tyra Banks may be a polarizing figure, but she’s always been outspoken about body positivity.
Credit: Twitter/@TyraBanks

Ellie Krupnick of the Huffington Post agreed with TV Guide’s addition of Tyra’s segment to their list. “She may be outrageous and she may be loud,” wrote Krupnick, “but Tyra isn’t afraid to stick up for herself and other women — and this powerfully vulnerable example of that is one of our favorites on TV.”

Recently, Tyra has been talking about her curvy figure again – this time discussing the label “plus-size.” Tyra is currently working with Special K on a campaign aimed at banishing “fat talk” and promoting a positive body image. As part of this campaign, Tyra spoke with the Huffington Post Style section about the “plus-size” label.

“I don’t like the label ‘plus-size’ — I call it ‘fiercely real.’ On ‘Top Model,’ we call it fiercely real,” Tyra told the Huffington Post. “I don’t want to use the term ‘plus-size,’ because, to me, what the hell is that? It just doesn’t have a positive connotation to it. I tend to not use it.”

I’ve previously talked about how problematic and upsetting it is to call plus-size women “real” women, because it is a disservice to women of different smaller body-types, since all women are real women. However, I do see where Tyra is coming from. I don’t care at all about labels, whether that be “plus-size,” “curvy,” or even “fat” – it truly does not matter to me how others define my body-type. In the modeling world, however, the plus-size label is starting to get more criticism, since many so-called “plus-size” models look lean, well-proportioned, and, well, slim. Plus-size model Leah Kelley made news a few weeks ago, when Internet commenters grew upset because an interview that the New York-based model did with ELLE magazine was accompanied by a picture of the blonde beauty wearing a skimpy bikini on her “thin” body.

leah kelly tweet

Many viewers were astonished to learn that this is called “plus-size.”
Credit: Twitter/ELLE

Neither Kelley, nor her fellow plus-size model Jennie Runk, are offended by the term plus-size at all. Runk wrote a now famous essay for the BBC about her life as a plus-size model in May 2013, in which she discussed the label, which she sees as nothing more than an effective way of categorizing clothes.

“While the idea of separating women into size categories seems stigmatizing, clothing companies do this in order to offer their customers exactly what they’re looking for, making it easier for people of all sizes to find clothes that fit their bodies as well as their own unique stylistic expression,” wrote Runk.

There is a lot of debate over what makes a plus-size model “plus-size,” but it is important to remember that words are just words and that it is not more offensive to be called fat than it is to be called skinny. It’s just a state of existence and it does not mean that you are any less beautiful or worthy.

There needs to be a lot of changes in how the fashion industry shows different body types, but in the meantime you can shop IGIGI’s mind-blowing season finale sale. Clothes are up to 80 percent off when you use the code “FREAKOUT” for 40 percent off. The sale ends at 12pm PST on January 20th and the code “FREAKOUT” is only valid on products in the ‘Super Sale’ category and subcategories.

Countdown to the mystery gift card!

Countdown to the mystery gift card!

There is also the mystery gift card coming up, which will be active from January 20-31. The secret amounts of mystery gift card – $10, $20, $30, $50, $75, or $100 – will be revealed at checkout, once you input their code located on the back of the card.

Have fun and happy shopping!

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make sure you sign up to be an IGIGI insider today and receive 15% off your next purchase! 

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