There are by now plenty of models and actresses who have decried the rigidity of the ideal that they are paid to inhabit. What I love about Tyra Banks is that she is taking action. She has used her own weight gain, the easy target of misogynist tabloids, as a teachable moment to confront the culture and speak out to girls and young women about embracing their bodies in all sizes. She has insisted that her TV show about models include women of various sizes and ethnicities. She has started a foundation, TZone, to empower young women in dealing with issues of physicality and self-respect.
Most of America sees Banks, 33, as a swimsuit model or a talk-show host. But very few see her as the latest in a line of African-American women entrepreneurs who have taken whatever it was they had to work with and turned it into an industry with aspirational overtones. We are lucky to have Banks embody this honorable American heritage. And we are lucky that she believes what she is telling other girls and young womenthat she is far, far more than just a body in a bathing suit.
Wolf's latest book, The End of America,is due out in September
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