In 1991, Tyra Banks strutted her stuff on the catwalks of Paris Fashion Week, booking 25 shows that year and kickstarting her successful modeling career. She made history five years later as the first Black woman to land the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. It was just one of her many famous swimsuit photoshoots over her years in the spotlight.
Tyra landed another cover of Sports Illustrated in 1997, sporting several bright neon bikinis in her gorgeous spread. The Dancing With the Stars host announced her retirement from modeling in 2005 at the age of 32. In May 2019, she made her return to modeling, posing on the cover of Sports Illustrated at 45. The issue ran 23 years after her first cover.
“There is this stereotype that only a 20-year-old woman in a bikini is hot,” Tyra told Sports Illustrated at the time. “Like once we reach a certain age, we are no longer desirable. But I want to show that modeling has no age. I’m coming out of retirement to practice what I preach.”
Tyra, who welcomed her son, York Banks Asla, in 2016 via surrogate, celebrated her iconic cover with a body-positive tweet.
“This is for everybody that has been told that they are not good enough because of their body, their age, their everything,” she wrote on Twitter alongside a photo wearing a yellow bikini. “#BanX is here to tell you that you ARE friggin’ fierce no matter what anybody says!”
In her 2018 memoir, Perfect Is Boring, the America’s Next Top Model host opened up about facing body shaming early on in her career and how she hopes the modeling industry will continue to evolve.
“I’m happy that the fashion industry is finally catching up,” Tyra told People in March 2018. “What I’m hoping for is that the Ashley Graham‘s, the Gigi Hadid‘s, everyone is just models. Not plus, not short, not trans, not curvy. I just want it to be normal.”
The former talk show host announced plans to build ModelLand in 2019, a California theme park celebrating uniqueness. Though the opening of the park was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tyra was excited to create a space where people could be themselves.
“The modeling industry of the future will not look like what it does today,” she told the New York Times in May 2019. “Anyone with a phone on a camera can be a model. And ModelLand will be a place where you can come and be celebrated and be a fantasy version of yourself.”
Keep scrolling to see Tyra’s gorgeous bikini photos.
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