Paper Dolls:

by on December 7th, 2010
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When America’s Next Top Model debuted I couldn’t have cared less. I wasn’t a hater then, but reality TV just wasn’t my thing. (Maybe I was a Reality TV hater?) My sister and close friends, however, were totally different stories. So I found myself watching episode after episode of melodramatic young women living up to stereotypes of catty females. It wasn’t long before I was scolding the show’s creator, fashion model Tyra Banks, through my TV, for creating a means to air such triviality. Then a thought came to me, “What did I expect from a supermodel?”

Tyra earned her money and recognition by strutting around thin and (half-)naked. What did she know about the need to be intelligent in the hood? What did she know about the dire need for women to come together and build each other up? She got a free-pass and what was her first objective when she could finally reach back? She made a reality-show highlighting bullies, most of whom probably have/had hidden self-image disorders, cat-fighting, name-calling, and skinny-dipping. (And they say rap videos are bad for a girl’s self-image?)

Remember the woman who refused to be photographed naked, because she was a mom? They kicked her off, chastised her and the photographer got to whine like the victim. Now I understand that when you sign-up for something, you’re supposed to know what the rules are and be willing to adhere to them. But what happened to changing the public perception of the fashion industry? So, much for a variety of beauty. I’m sure there are thriving designers that target women who don’t like being captured Applebottom -out.

The turnaround came by way of a Tyra Banks quote I saw in my yearbook. Forgive my paraphrasing-I can’t find the quote-but she said something like: “You see that girl in the club with all the cute guys offering to buy her a drink, flirting with her? And you’re sitting back like, ‘I’m cuter than her!’ You want to know why she’s got their attention? She’s confident. She’s out on the floor dancing, singing along. Confidence always outweighs beauty.” Interesting .

She gave me something to think about. (Good) confidence causes people to pay attention to you; so, they notice the small details, that really are beautiful, but would be missed in passing. (Good) confidence also makes people want to talk to you. They want to know why you’re so confident, so outgoing-so happy.

Later, I went to a John Singleton lecture and he blushed about he and Tyra’s being exes. Interesting . She dated Mr. ‘Round-the-way-Movie’ himself. John’s devotion to urban stories and Tyra’s lightheartedness seemed a mismatch. Yet, her “Fat Scandal” sealed my transition. (My sister was sure to keep me up-to-date on all things Tyra.) I started watching Tyra’s talk-show. I liked the way she handled the scrutiny and her personality/persona away from ANTM.

Tyra has a charity, T-Zone, for girls that actually started before ANTM. Then, the way she scolded a contestant with a color-complex and launched a mini-crusade to shed light on our-African-Americans-nasty habit of being color-struck was impressive. Possibly, these noteworthy attributes of Tyra’s were always public knowledge??? Or perhaps, she became empowered to make certain statements as her image grew from being a skinny, naked girl? Either way, I appreciate her because was among the first to show how multi-dimensional a woman can be.


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