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July 08, 2011

Tyra Banks Fashion, Beauty And How She Was Teased At School For Her Lanky Frame.

Born in Los Angeles in California on December 4th, 1973, Tyra Banks' big break happened when she was just 17, an age when most girls are usually charming their way into nightclubs.

Though I have to admit that when I was 17, I spent most of my Saturday nights reading those most excellent Choose Your Own Adventure books and painting
sunsets. Ah, the memories...

But for someone of Tyra Banks' physical calibre standing 5'10" tall, being able to read or paint is not a prerequisite - being able to strut, wink and look sexy without smiling most certainly is.
And as such, Tyra was quickly accepted by the Elite modeling agency at the age of 17, beginning a career that would propel her to positions of great power.

In May 2006 she was highlighted by TIME magazine as one of the world's 100 most influential people. Take that Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin!
But it wasn't all smooth sailing for Tyra, no ma'am...

Despite entering the world supported by a close family, tragedy struck at age six when Tyra's parents decided to get a divorce. Other poignant memories from her youth include the utter torment at the hands of her older brother, Devin. But who's laughing now, eh?

Despite these events in her young life, Tyra recounts it as happy and trouble-free. At the all-girls private school, as is often the story with tall models, Tyra was teased often due to her lanky frame.

And unlike boys, who often just fight physically, girls are much more dangerous when they get catty.
Instead of punching each other up, girls will often drive their rivals towards eating disorders and other emotional and physical trauma, such is the level of bullying. It used to get so ugly for Tyra Banks that sometimes she would have to return home to her mother.

But late into her schooling life she matured physically and all of a sudden she was getting noticed. She started working out to keep her trim figure and soon after decided that she wanted to get into the fashion industry.
Although she was accepted by the Elite modeling agency at 17, Tyra was in fact turned down by four other agencies, because her face wasn't 'photogenic' enough.
So, off to Paris it was for Ms Banks, where she was an instant hit.

She featured on glossy magazine covers, like Vogue, Elle, Harper's Bazaar, Cosmo and even Sports Illustrated, and performed runway and ad campaign modeling for the likes of Tommy Hilfiger, Dolce & Gabbana, Yves Saint-Laurent, CoverGirl, Anna Sui and America's favourite lingerie design house, Victoria's Secret.

It was then in 1997 that she took out the coveted Michael Award for Supermodel of the Year, proving that African American models, and indeed models with large breasts, could do everything that the flat chested super-slim models could do.

She was once quoted saying, "Some models are quite flat-chested so they can run around without bouncing. I can't... Black women don't have the same body image problems as white women. They are proud of their bodies. Black men love big butts, and they cannot lie."

She worked with Ralph Lauren and Chanel to name a couple more famous fashion houses, but after spending time in Europe and Asia, she moved back to the US.
It was when she returned to her home country that she started moving away from modeling and scored a role in a British tele-movie, Inferno.

After this she landed a recurring role in the memorable Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, starring alongside the cocksure Will Smith, replete with his million dollar smile (she played the character of Jackie, one of the Fresh Prince's buddies).

Other TV spots for the sometimes enigmatic model-turned-actor-turned-producer (she has an extreme fear of dolphins, but hasn't yet taken the Billy Bob Thornton step of trying to eradicate them) included a guest appearance on Felicity, and she is perhaps best known as the cruel-but-fair host and chief judge (and executive producer) of the popularist TV show America's Next Top Model, in which she has been known to blow her lid at the snooty wannabe models.

Her TV resume also includes the The Tyra Banks Show, an Oprah-influenced TV programme that some suggested could have placed her well to take the spot of America's richest woman, Oprah, as a new host in future...

The cleverly named Tyra Banks Show first went to air in late 2005 but not a great deal has come of it since.
Her first serious movie role would come about after rumours of a relationship with movie-maker John Singleton. She starred in one of his films, Higher Learning (1995), as the athletic girlfriend of the film's lead role.

She presented herself well in the sometimes controversial film as most casual observers who have seen the movie would agree, which brought saw the number of film scripts landing on her desk increase.
She is quite possibly one of the only supermodels who doesn't completely suck when it comes to acting, as her role in Coyote Ugly (2000) showed that she has more than just a dusting of talent.

But before appearing in this flick, she went back to modeling. She is the only African-American woman to have featured on the front covers of GQ magazine, the Victoria's Secret catalogue and perhaps the most important - the cover of the highly-anticipated Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, which is a huge feat for the statuesque brunette.

She's been in People Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful list - twice - has been out with stars like Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan and singer Seal. She's written a book "Tyra's Beauty Inside & Out", been in plenty of movies and eats all the junk food she can get her hands on.
I was about to sing her praises until I read that last fact... Tut-tut, Tyra.

To stay in shape, Tyra plays plenty of sport, such as tennis and basketball, and she even had a short-lived musical career, with the CD single 'Shake Ya Body' being largely panned by critics.

She later admitted her foolishness in wanting to conquer all facets of the entertainment industry, commenting on her own model search series, America's Next Top Model, "I don't know what I was thinking! ...models don't sing!" I think what she was trying to say was 'I can't sing, but my sycophantic posse told me I could do anything, as they're paid to tell me such things'.

The highs and lows of being filthy rich are truly insightful.

After having her fair share of the limelight, does Tyra Banks want to give up her modeling career? Well, that's a silly question really, as she's already given it up, having moved successfully into television production.
But that's not to say that she didn't prove herself as a model. Quite the opposite in fact - she's one of the most successful supermodels in history, is now a multi-millionaire producer and runs the Bankable Productions company and still has an extreme fear of dolphins.

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