If there’s three main criticisms of the modelling industry made time and time again, it’s that it’s obsessed with thinness, obsessed with age, and not nearly as glamorous as the high fashion shoots make it look – to the point of being exploitative.
Supermodel queen Tyra Banks has now taken steps to fight back against one of those criticisms, by removing the age limit for ‘America’s Next Top Model‘.
She took to Instagram on Saturday to make the announcement.
“You know I’ve stood for diverse beauty and erasing cookie-cutters when it comes to what is deemed beautiful,” she said. “There have been 23 cycles of ‘America’s Next Top Model’ and every single cycle, we say, you have to be 27 years old or younger. Know what I hear all the time? ‘Tyra, come on! Why have an age limit?’ So you know what? I’m taking that age limit off. You want to audition for ‘America’s Next Top Model’? I don’t care how old you are, honey, you just need to know how to smize and be open to learning how to work the runway like a supermodel.”
And although she doesn’t say so in the video, the caption states that “all shapes [are] welcome.”
I’m so excited about this!!! Apply Now, boo!!! #ANTM #tyrabanks #michellemockcasting #Tyrasback Send 3 photos, Name, Age, Height, Weight (all shapes welcome!) and your Contact Information to VH1TopModel@gmail.com. You must be a U.S. Citizen! #antm24 #casting 18+ #ageaintnothingbutanumber Hope to see you soon! ??TyTy
Modelling comes with a notoriously low retirement age. A BuzzFeed investigation in 2013 found that the average retirement age for a Victoria’s Secret Angel is 28 years and three months. Okay, so it only looked at the numbers for eight different Angels (Banks, Heidi Klum, Gisele, Selita Ebanks, Marisa Miller, Miranda Kerr, Izabel Goulart and Laetitia Casta), but these models were at the top of their game.
And ANTM might have had an age limit of 27, but there have only been three contestants in the history of the show (Robbie Manning in Cycle 1, Shannon Stewart in Cycle 17, and Mike Scocozza in Cycle 20) who competed at that ripe old age.
Yet over the last few years, fashion labels have earned themselves positive press coverage for casting models who don’t fit the norms (a.k.a. young, thin, able-bodied and predominantly white). Just last month, 58-year-old Lou Kenny walked the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival for Vogue Australia, and in the process earned a few nice media mentions for the brands.
So is Tara using her immense voice to break down barriers in the modelling industry? Or is she simply looking to revitalise her ANTM brand, much in the same way she’s returning to the judge’s panel this cycle after booting Rita Ora from the job? Tune in to find out.
Photo: Don Arnold / Getty.