The Importance of Tyra Banks’ Sports Illustrated Cover

The cover of Sports Illustrated has been highly anticipated this year, arguably more so than other years. In the wake of more body positivity messages and more inclusivity in the modeling industry, people were buzzing about who would get the cover. While at face value, it seems superficial to care about the cover of a swimsuit magazine (which is typically meant for the attention of men), this cover actually tackles social issues that run deep in society. This year, it was famous supermodel, Tyra Banks, that won the cover. A curvy, 45-year-old, black woman. And she was absolutely breathtaking

In 1993, Tyra was the first black woman to get the magazine’s coveted solo cover. Today, she is still breaking barriers. 

Tyra caught the attention of many this time around because she has seemingly been “out of the game” for a while. Besides her hosting of America’s Next Top Model and her Oscar-worthy performance in Life Size 2, she has been relatively MIA. Furthermore, she’s a curvy woman, and while this type of body has slowly gained acceptance in the media, it has long been considered an undesirable body type. The women of this magazine have historically been skinny, tall, and frankly, lacking in diversity. Tyra shattered these assumptions of what a typical model looked like back in 1993, and she sure did it again this time around, too, with a Rocky-level knockout punch.

When Tyra was asked about her initial thoughts on being selected for the cover, she reported, “I thought I needed to drop 30 pounds. I thought I had to look the same [as she did in 1993]”. She continued to say that the magazine wanted her on the cover in the exact condition she was, as the exact shape she was, to send a message: bodies are beautiful at any size. Tyra added that while she was initially worried about shedding weight for the cover, “…the ice cream called my name!” She listened to that voice, and then she did something even more fantastic. She told the world that yes, a SUPERMODEL ate ice cream before her swimsuit cover. A woman that other women look up to in the industry spoke of treating herself and appreciating her body for how it was now, at this moment, which is a message that feels lost in the media. Her body is strong and beautiful, even when she eats ice cream. Her body is beautiful now, just like it was in the 1990s. I credit Tyra with being a fiercely honest role model for girls everywhere. She rocked the most renowned swimsuit cover with unwavering confidence, at the exact state she was in. I credit Sports Illustrated for its inclusivity. Thank you SI for taking women as they are, as we know that every body shape and every woman looks different. So thank you for including women of color, women with curves, women with different and unique skin colors, and women of different cultures. Thank you for making a cover that is relatable and speaks a message of self-love and confidence at any size. Representation and self-love seem to be in short supply in today’s climate, but this cover chips away at the stereotypes. Let’s continue to spread these messages, as women of all shapes, colors, and sizes continue to rock the world. And let’s put Tyra on every magazine cover from now on, yeah?