This week on the Reheat – Tyra Banks gets her reckoning

Hello, and welcome to The Reheat! Each week, I write a column summarizing the highlights of the podcast I co-host with Sadaf Ahsan. Our podcast, also titled The Reheat (what a coincidence!), re-examines the most salacious scandals of yester-year through a contemporary lens. Whether it’s a deep dive into Bennifer’s original love story from the 2000s or a meditation on the time princess Anne was almost kidnapped, we explain why each saga captured our imaginations back in the day. Sadaf and I also ask, would these stories be as scandalous if they happened in 2022? The answers to that question might surprise you!

Whenever we release a new episode, I share some of the most interesting (or in this week’s case, troubling) information right here, for Addicted Magazine’s lovely readers. Obviously, we hope these columns tantalize you enough to listen to our podcast. That’s where you’ll learn the compelling facts I don’t share here…

This week, we are discussing the long-overdue reckoning of supermodel turned Reality TV trailblazer Tyra Banks. We’ll show you what it’s like to walk a day in Tyra’s well-heeled shoes, and how competing on America’s Next Top Model wasn’t as glamorous as it looked…


Tyra Banks Struggled to Get Signed As a Model

When Tyra was a teenager going on her very first go-sees, systemic racism in the modeling industry was a serious barrier. Gorgeous as she was, Tyra struggled to find an agency to represent her. Ultimately, Tyra managed to beat the odds, becoming a superstar model known for working with brands like Victoria’s Secret and acting as the first Black model to cover model for Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition. Obviously, her eventual success doesn’t erase the injustices she faced in the industry…


Top Model Was A Toxic Environment For Contestants

America’s Next Top Model was a groundbreaking show in many ways. Produced and hosted by Tyra Banks, the series showed fans the behind-the-scenes world of modeling, from makeovers to grueling photoshoots. I have fond memories of watching the show with a gaggle of girlfriends in university. We’d pile on the common room’s communal couch with chocolate bars and popcorn. Before long, we were collectively cooing over the couture fashion and evaluating the “walks” of our favourite contestants. Tyra was always there to dispense advice to the competitors, like a gorgeous Goddess of high fashion.

What loyal viewers like me didn’t know was how vile conditions were for contestants behind the scenes. Top Model hopefuls were paid a mere $40 a day! And when they experienced problems, the show was impervious. For example, Kahlen from Season 4 was expected to pose for pictures inside a grave shortly after hearing about the death of a close friend. Keeping it classy, Season Four also included a problematic photoshoot where models had their skin darkened and were dressed up as ethnicities that weren’t their own. And if that weren’t bad enough, the 4th cycle is when Tyra infamously screamed at contestant Tiffany after she was eliminated.

But it’s not just Season Four of Top Model that was a hellscape! Egregious events took place throughout the show’s 24 seasons. One particularly upsetting event occurred in Season 17, when Angelea Preston was stripped of the Top Model Title because she had worked as an escort. Curiously, the producers already knew that fact when she won the honour. Was she given the title just so the show could shame her by taking it back?


Tyra’s Talkshow Was Weirder Than You Remember 

The success of America’s Next Top Model propelled Tyra Banks to ever greater heights. In 2005, her buzzed-about talkshow The Tyra Banks Show premiered on CBS. The series was very watchable but also a little…odd. Over the course of its five-year run, Tyra pretended to have rabies on air, dressed a Black man in whiteface, and got very excited about vaseline containers encrusted with chrystals.  But hey, the show was never dull!

The Tyra Banks Show ended in 2010, but Tyra’s shenanigans will live rent-free in my mind forever!


Sarah Sahagian

Sarah Sahagian

Sarah Sahagian is a feminist writer based in Toronto. Her byline has appeared in such publications as Elle Canada, Flare, Bitch Media, The Toronto Star, and The National Post. She is also the co-host of You Do You: A Dating Podcast. Sarah holds a master’s degree in Gender Studies from The London School of Economics. You can find her on Twitter, where she posts about politics and live-tweets The Bachelor