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Tyra Banks’s New Book: “Perfect Is Boring”

Throughout her career, Tyra Banks has strived to show that she is more than just a pretty face.

The 1990s supermodel has done everything from gracing the covers of countless high-end fashion magazines, hosting the still-running America’s Next Top Model, teaching a Stanford M.B.A. course, and taking on the role of mother. Now, she has co-written a book with her mother, Carolyn London, called Perfect Is Boring: 10 Things My Crazy, Fierce Mama Taught Me About Beauty, Booty, and Being a Boss. Infused with Banks’ natural effervescence and thoughtful insights, Perfect Is Boring takes on the mother-daughter relationship with refreshing honesty.

Throughout the narrative, Banks recalls the trying experiences she faced throughout her youth, and even into the peak of her modeling career. Insecurity was a constant for Banks, yet the fact that her mother never let her quit on herself allowed her to pursue her dreams nonetheless. In one instance, Banks found herself crying in front of her mother in Italy about the fact that designers would not hire her due to her more voluptuous backside. “Through my tears, she said, ‘We are going to eat pizza.’ And over pizza she said, ‘You write down every client in this modeling industry that likes ass. Because my baby’s ass is getting bigger and I’ll be damned if she starves for this industry.’” Recalling such instances, London says, “I did not want Tyra to fall into the trap of thinking she had to live up to some silly idea of the ‘perfect’ body.’ Tyra was almost a supermodel, and if she was ‘too fat,’ what message did that send to the rest of us women?”

Written as more of a back-and-forth conversation than a typical novel, Perfect Is Boring breaks down barriers between generations and examines the reasons why this approach is effective in maintaining a healthy parent-child relationship. In one memory the two share, Banks describes how she called her mother to tell her she had started her period. The hiccup in the story was that Banks was at her father’s house (whom London was divorced from), and Banks desperately pleaded with her mother not to share the news. In typical unapologetic fashion, London told him anyway. Not only that, but she went on to throw her daughter a period-themed party, inviting Banks’ friends and creating goody bags with menstrual products. The party was meant to help Banks embrace the experience as natural and normal, and to not live in fear of it. “I appreciate that she never wanted me to be ashamed of anything, or to think that there was something bad or dirty about my body,” writes Banks.

As far as developing and writing the book together, the duo had to learn each other’s stylistic preferences. London describes herself as a more long-winded writer, who would “spend hours writing things that would pop into my mind, like, in the middle of the night. So I’d write it in the moment and I get a little flowery and very descriptive.” Banks, on the other hand, called on her skills editing countless hours of Top Model footage to keep the prose focused. “I crossed out pages!” she confesses. “And she got so mad at me! I was like, ‘Mama, I edit a show called America’s Next Top Model, and film our girls practically 24 hours a day, and every episode is made up of four days, so do the math of 24 times four: I have to edit that down to 40-something minutes for people to watch it. And we have to do that for this book, too.’”

Regardless of any tensions throughout the process, both Banks and London have produced a work that is likely to reach the hearts and souls of mothers and daughters everywhere. Perfect Is Boring is an exciting read for anyone looking to discover the story and inspiration behind a beloved and intelligent public figure.

Abbey is an Ohio native currently caught between the charm of the Midwest and the lure of the big city. She loves all things politics and pop culture, and is always ready to discuss the intersections of both. Her favorite season is awards season and she is a tireless advocate of the Oxford Comma. Abbey will take a cup of lemon tea over coffee any day and believes that she can convince you to do the same. As a former English major, she holds the power of words near and dear.
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