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Tyra Banks
via Instagram/@tyrabanks

Tyra Banks responds to criticism of America’s Next Top Model

People have called out the show for emotional manipulation, insensitivity towards black contestants, and more

First aired in 2003, America’s Next Top Model has become a hit reality show and, beyond that, something of an institution, in part due to its wild makeovers (and the subsequent meltdowns from contestants)

In the last week though, Twitter users have been casting an eye over past cycles and (perhaps predictably) finding some pretty problematic moments.

One such tweet revisits a clip of the model – and eventual winner of ANTM season six – Dani Evans being pressured to close the gap in her teeth by the judging panel, with the show creator Tyra Banks saying: “It’s not marketable.”

Other Twitter users have been quick to point out that this pressure was also completely contradicted by another incident a few cycles later, when a different model was told to widen their gap, leading some to suggest it was evidence of the show’s racial bias.

“It's like she started this show to intentionally treat these young woman in such a horrible way,” adds another user.

Evans herself has shared her take on the matter, in a video posted to Instagram, in which she claims she wasn’t told about getting her gap closed until she was in front of the judges. “I knew that I was basically set up,” she says, “and not being told that Tyra wants me to get my gap closed so that it’s good for TV.”

Other criticisms of the show on social media have focused on a “bi-racial” photoshoot from cycle 13, which saw some models pose in blackface.

Responding to the backlash in a statement posted to Twitter yesterday (May 9), Tyra Banks writes: “Been seeing the posts about the insensitivity of some past ANTM moments and I agree with you. Looking back, those were some really off choices. Appreciate your honest feedback and am sending so much love and virtual hugs.”

One of the show’s producers, Ken Mok, has issued a similar response, replying to Tyra’s tweet and adding: “Just a FYI – the entire creative team made the choices in those shows – not just Tyra.  So please feel free to yell at me for some of the worst moments in ANTM history!”

For many people, however, the responses don’t go far enough to address the controversies. “You know what would be better than this? A full fledged apology,” reads one comment on Banks’ statement. Another commenter adds: “Perhaps apologies to the women who were belittled would be more appropriate.”

“Aspiring young models saw those clips, too, and it just reinforced the idea that women have to be perfect. Acknowledge it was wrong but apologize to the right people.”