This picture is a screen munch from Tyra banks 2004’s Americas next stop model show.
The judge in the picture was addressing then contestant, Yaya decosta. A proud Afrocentric aspiring model who loved her culture. The judge had a problem with yayas love for African attire and natural look.
That season where Eva won was actually the last season I watched. Recalling the moment this judge, along with others mocked and tore into Yaya for loving her roots. All in the guise of its judge like ‘constructive criticism’? I was aghast and then disturbed.
What I didn’t understand was how Tyra who reacted through a shocked look at the above judges comment herself. Chose to let that go?
The others said some shit too yes, but it was this one (in pic above) that pissed me off the most. She spouted some racist crap that Tyra completely ignored. Instead she chose to assert herself to Yaya and call her defensive for saying…
For anyone rightly exploring whether or not her tone was defensive. It wasn’t what
actually troubled me about the perception Tyra took was the fact that Yayas voice was actually broken as she spoke, there was no defensiveness.(even if she was defensive it would have been understandable under that circumstanc but she wasn’t)
The girl was scattered through emotions as she explained why she liked her clothes or natural look. And why she chose that cowboy hat (in pic) over the “African” token kufi they preferred her to use as a prop that she felt was cheap.
Whatever the background, to equate her scattered and shock laced, broken spirited response to defensiveness was just mind boggling.
Tyra doubled down and turned her attentions on Yaya because she couldn’t address the judge on her own panel.
To add insult to injury she made Yaya return to apologise to the hat?
She placed honour on a hat over another human beings heart?
There was no social media back then, I swear had there been the backlash would have been great. Many people were offended even though it was post woke era. Granted many weren’t concious of these things back then, but that scene was powerful, it stood on its own. It didn’t need any black rights advocacy or promptings to make one take note.
Make any excuse you want about what they were commenting on or what they meant…..What you can’t ignore unless you’re absolutely brain dead in my opinion, is the judge who said “you have this intensity to prove your africanness and I think sometimes it’s over bearing it’s just too much”
How does one prove their africaness when that is what they are?
How the hell does one explain that away? It’s clear as day the woman vomited her intolerance on Yaya. What she was actually saying was ‘your pride in your africanness is making me uncomfortable because it’s too over powering FOR me to deal with.’
The look Tyra gave that judge showed us she FELT that. But like the coward who cried over Naomi for over a decade, dedicating a whole show to scraping for her validation, understanding the importance of feelings only when it concerns her own that she is. She chose to assert herself to Yaya instead of addressing what she felt by the judges comment herself.
Yaya did not seem defensive in that clip. She was vulnerable and responded to their comments via explanation. Seems like tyra had more of a problem with yayas opinions than the white judge and that for me is telling.
She is forever making excuses that seem reasonable conveniently for all except her own? Why?
Case in point the recent H&M monkey top fiasco. When asked what she thought about the offensive racist ad. She catered her opinion to protecting the CEO of H&M from backlash. By pointing out rationally that the fault was with those managing the actual set in real time. Not the CEO as these details of who wears what isn’t CEO affairs to manage.
Do I agree with her logic there? Of course. But where was this understanding for Yaya when she labelled her reaction to racist intolerance as defensive?
Further perpetuating the stereotype that when a black woman stands up for herself she is being defensive or aggressive?
Yaya in general didn’t have the best personality sure, she did come across pretentious in some edits through out that season and wasn’t even my fav to win. But her personality flaw didn’t come into play during what happened in that clip. So for me it was irrelevant then and still is irrelevant now. In fact those deflecting through it are part of the problem.
She was forced to back down when she was right to stand up for herself and although she willingly apologised as she left judges spot light. Tyra felt the need to make her return half way out the room to apologise to the hat. (The hat part bothers me almost equally lol)
I am personally glad people are reviving this especially with the return of Americas next top model. That show including tyras comments or stances on something’s got away with a lot in the past.
There was another incident where a black girl who had a gap in her teeth was told close it as it wasn’t attractive. But wait for it….a white girl in the following season was celebrated for hers and in fact got told by Tyra herself to widen it.
This isn’t the kind of shit that would run in 2018. Yaya was wronged on a personal and racial level and I think an apology is never too late.
Imagine this being the look you get when you say how you dress is not about proving something, it’s natural to you because it represents where you come from.
Imagine these kind of comments being made and then right after that being shown a picture of yourself with a straight weave only to be celebrated and told that is aspirational? “Other girls would reach for this” Eurocentric “look” “because they don’t have that” “but this”. (Meaning her African look) “they can reach” so not a big deal sort of thing. (This was Tyra)
As for everything else that was said she watched on and validated it when she recommended Yaya seek being ‘glamorous’ “over natural”. Forget her defending yaya, she not only stamped it she couldn’t even show understanding for her broken voice or emotions at the least.
What’s funny is she said this^ way before her famous talk show episode with Naomi Campbell. The one where she sat there bringing up the past in an attempt to solicit healing for her ego. I say ego because she was seeking validation from a disconnected Naomi, failing to make space for her perspective on matter. Because all that mattered was that Naomi co signs the narrative behind her feelings. That’s why she cried in joy for that half assed apology Naomi gave her. As if she threw her a bone for closure because she genuinely didn’t know what else to do so took responsibility for the feelings Tyra kept reiterating.
(I’m aware that I am lacking ’empathy’ for Tyra here, but I honestly don’t feel empathy for people in areas I’ve seen them lack it for another. It’s like I’m blocked from it)
I watched that episode on her Tyra show and thought Tyra has a problem with standing up for herself, which generally evokes compassion in me, it isn’t something that warrants criticism. But when your lack makes you vomit on another, its a different story.
That’s why she shamed Yaya for standing up for herself. It’s like she saw in her, her shadow that she didn’t integrate and it triggered her.
In this day and age I can’t fathom how someone who knows and has experienced many types of disadvantages faced by black women. In that sort of industry chose to turn a blind eye to a clear example of it, right in front of her.
Tyra believes she is preparing other black woman for that big bad industry world. When In retrospect her delusion doesn’t let her see, she is cutting them down to size to fit the disadvantages imposed on them effortlessly.
I didn’t like what I saw because I could see and feel Yayas spirit get crushed. The humiliation via the apology to the hat in the end. Is why this incident left an imprint.
I don’t like people who claim to stand for something and then betray it in the baitest of ways. Tyra doesn’t stand with black women. She is an appeaser and I’ve always seen that because I don’t think her authentic self is.