America's Next Top Model fans slam Tyra Banks over treatment of Robin
‘This is disgusting to watch’: Tyra Banks is slammed as ‘mean and evil’ after video of her branding a SIZE SIX America’s Next Top Model contestant ‘plus-size’ resurfaces online to fury from viewers
- Cycle one contestant Robin Manning, 46, was deemed a ‘plus-size’ model at size six by Banks, 48, while panelist Janice Dickinson, 67, called her ‘fat’ and ‘huge’ during multiple deliberations
- Former fans of ANTM have now slammed Tyra and the show for branding a then-27-year-oild Robin ‘plus-size’ and have called for them to ‘issue a public apology to her’
- Other contestants like Cassie Grisham, 36, Keenyah Hill, 36, and Lauren ‘London’ Levi, 31, struggled with body issues while on the show, often being told they were too big or needed to lose weight
- Past contestants have claimed that they were forced to work 20 hour days while being paid $38 a day while others like Angelea Preston, 35 have sued the show after she was stripped of her All Star winner title
Tyra Banks has once again come under fire for her behavior on reality series America’s Next Top Model after another series of distasteful clips resurfaced on social media in which she and her co-judges were seen branding a size six contestant ‘plus-size’, ‘fat’ and ‘huge’.
The latest backlash against 48-year-old Tyra and her once-popular competition show comes after a TikTok user shared a compilation video exposing how season one contestant Robin Manning, now 46, was repeatedly put down by the former supermodel and her panel of fashion experts.
Despite the fact that she was a slender size six during her appearance on ANTM, the clips show Robin being labeled as ‘plus-size’ by Tyra, while ex-model Janice Dickinson – who was a panelist on the series – described her as ‘fat’ and ‘huge’.
In the non-fashion world, plus-size is considered anything size 12 and up. While the fashion world as a whole has become more accepting since ANTM premiered in 2003, at the time, models much smaller than size 12 were considered plus-size – and often still are.
Robin Manning was depicted as ‘plus-size’ model on cycle one of America’s Next Top Model
Tyra, pictured in 2022, is being slammed for calling size six model Robin ‘plus-size’ during cycle one of America’s Next Top Model
‘Are we shooting for the large size category?’ Dickinson asks while looking at a picture of Robin, who was 27 years old at the time, at the top of the video.
‘Yes, Robin would represent a plus-size model,’ Banks explains while looking at a photo of the slender contestant.
‘One problem that I do have is that on the top she’s not plus-sized, and on the bottom she is,’ the show host continues.
Dickinson then expresses her immediate dislike for the model.
‘Robin’s out, as far as I’m concerned about being a supermodel,’ Janice states. ‘The next America’s Next Top Model is not a plus sized model, I’m sorry!’
Later on in the clip, Dickinson piles on the insults, stating Robin was ‘fat’ and ‘huge’ and that she ‘is not going to be a top model’ but rather a car model.
Tyra seemed to be more empathetic. In a separate clip, she claps back at Dickinson for those comments – claiming that she was ‘the problem with America.’
She added: ‘I think you are the problem of why women are leaning over the toilets at this very moment and vomiting after they’ve eaten.’
However, Tyra doesn’t shut down the conversations going on about Robin’s body, instead making comments like ‘I just wish her upper body was bigger and matched her lower body better.’
At one point, Tyra gives criticism about a wardrobe choice for a photoshoot – which was possibly not even made by Robin – in relation to her body.
‘Do you have to be covered all the time?’ Tyra asks regarding a sarong Robin was wearing with her bikini This is saying, “Oh, I got hips. I’m covering them up.””
Seemingly unaware of her approach, Tyra appears to be shocked when Robin walks by her in tears, leaving Tyra to ask, ‘Why are you crying, Robin?’
Judge Beau Quillian tries to tip toe more quietly around the issue, stating that she’s too ‘old to be starting modeling.’
He then brings her size into the conversation about her choosing not to compete in the nude photoshoot over her religious beliefs.
‘I was sad that you didn’t put yourself out there representing women of a different size,’ he states.
Robin was called ‘fat’ and ‘huge’ while on ANTM and Tyra claimed that the bottom half of her body was ‘plus-size’ while the top half was not
Janice Dickinson claimed Robin could not be a top model because she is ‘plus-size’
On top of this, when they went to Paris, one of the designers states, ‘I don’t have a market here for Robin. There’s no market for plus sizes in France.’
The media at the time was equally insensitive to the matter. TV Guide magazine published the line ‘her ego is as big as her booty.’
Part of the issue was that Robin was painted as the villain of the season – which is why people have felt less sympathetic towards the issue.
‘I don’t approve of women being divas,’ Tyra said in the 2003 TV Guide issue. ‘Especially if you haven’t made it yet.’
Janice chimed that the she found the model to be ‘patronizing.’
Whether her personality was true-to-form or fabricated through editing (or a little bit of both), many former fans of the show don’t feel that she deserved to be treated the way she was.
Some were shocked about how they were talking about Robin’s body, simply asking, ‘PLUS SIZE???!!’
‘They should honestly issue a public apology to Robin. Not ok,’ one user wrote in the comments section of the TikTok video.
‘Robin is absolutely beautiful. It’s disgusting watching the judges tear her down then expect her to be this confident woman. It’s borderline bullying,’ another penned.
TikTok users are shocked that size six Robin was considered ‘plus-size’
Twitter users also expressed their shock at how Robin was referred to as ‘plus-size’ on ANTM
The video was also posted to Twitter and immediately went viral. The Twitterverse was quick to chime in. Some echoed the same sentiment that they were shocked Robin was considered plus-size.
‘The 2000s were something else. This woman’s body was sickening,’ the Twitter user wrote along with the video.
‘She was considered PLUS SIZED????’ One user simply asked.
‘Wowwwe she was not plus size at all. I wish Twitter was around to drag allll the judges,’ another tweeted.
‘It’s crazy how much beauty standards have changed it the past 20 years because Robyn was never plus sized,’ a third lamented. ‘She just wasn’t a size 2 which is unrealistic for most women. The 90s/ early 2000s were hell on women’s bodies.’
Other users share how the video opened up their eyes to the problems of a show they once enjoyed.
‘I love this show but there was a lot of #bodyshaming back then. Robin was way ahead of her time,’ one user wrote.
‘Sadly, I was obsessed with this show when I was younger,’ another expressed of ANTM. ‘No wonder I’ve battled with body insecurities my entire life.’
Some users even came for Tyra, declaring her ‘the real villain.’
‘They call her fat and making her feel horrible, but want her to pose nude. Tyra and her clique/crew were so mean and evil,’ one user tweeted.
ANTM viewers express that they hadn’t realized the show’s ‘body shaming’ problems when it aired
ANTM viewers call out Tyra for allowing Robin to be treated with such disrespect
Another wrote, ‘Whole d*** show was a hate crime against women’s bodies. Specially black women they clowned everything about us and Tyra was there to okay it all smh.’
‘Robyn had a BEAUTIFUL body!!!!’ a third exclaimed. ‘This show was horrible to Black women that were on it back then! Very much anti-Black AF and Tyra Banks was ok with all of it!!! So sad to watch this back!!! She was the real villain!!’
This is far from the first time that fans have expressed outrage about the messages Tyra put out there on the show.
In 2020, a clip resurfaced of when cycle six winner Danielle Evans was asked to change her appearance during her time on the show.
Danielle had a gap in her teeth and even though she seemed proud of this unique feature of hers, Tyra insisted that she couldn’t be a Covergirl looking the way that she did.
‘Do you really think you can have a Covergirl contract with a gap in your mouth?’ Tyra asked her on the show.
‘Yes, why not?’ Danielle responded, to which Tyra responded that the gap would be ‘all people see.’
Danielle was asked to close the gap in her teeth on NTM but she didn’t seem to want to
‘Do you really think you can have a Covergirl contract with a gap in your mouth?’ Tyra asked Danielle on the show
‘It wasn’t about coping out,’ Danielle said of her decision to compromise and get her gap partially closed
Eventually, Danielle agreed to have it partially closed.
Addressing the matter in an Instagram video from 2020, Danielle explained, ‘Nothing or no one was going to stand in my way.
‘It wasn’t about coping out. It was about understanding what holds weight and value in my life and teeth was not one of them.’
Tyra caught wind of the criticism and while she ‘agreed’ with everyone’s take on the matter and admitted she had made some ‘off choices,’ she did not apologize.
‘Been seeing the posts about the insensitivity of some past ANTM moments and I agree with you,’ she tweeted at the time.
‘Looking back, those were some really off choices. Appreciate your honest feedback and am sending so much love and virtual hugs.’
America’s Next Top Model’s problem with weight didn’t stop with Robin in cycle one.
Cycle three contestant Cassie Grisham admitted to practicing bulimic tendencies while she was on the show.
While Cassie denied that she was bulimic, she admitted to practicing the behaviors of the disease – stating that she had ‘an obsession with my weight’ which caused her to her to throw up ‘sometimes’ and worry about food ’24-7.’ she acknowledged, noting that she worries about food ’24–7.’
Cassie denied being bulimic and claimed it was because she didn’t throw up ‘after every meal’
Designer Nanette Lepore told Cassie that ‘she’s not exactly a size 2’
Another designer, Marc Bouwer, measured her hips after claiming her thighs were too big
When questioned about her behavior, she stated, ‘If I didn’t want to be a model, I would eat whatever I wanted to and not worry about it, but ‘I have this will to be skinny. And if people have a problem with it that’s their problem, not mine.’
‘If it makes me happy to do this, then they shouldn’t have a problem,’ she told the cameras. ‘I’ve grown up dreaming of being a model… And great, there’s plus-sized models; that’s not for me.’
The show addressed the issue minimally, inviting Kate Dillon, who lectured the group that if they need to starve themselves, ‘this might not be the right career for any of you.’
However, they dropped the issue as Cassie continued to succeed on the show and eventually sent her on go-sees where designers critiqued her appearance.
Designer Nanette Lepore said ‘she’s not exactly a size 2’ while Marc Bouwer measured her hips with a measuring tape and insisted she couldn’t wear his clothes because her thighs were too big.
The moment clearly affected Cassie, telling the cameras, ‘I have very wide hips. Marc Bouwer told me I was too big.’
The model was sent home that episode because Tyra claimed she ‘didn’t want it enough.’
One season later, contestant Keenyah Hill was accused of having an unhealthy diet and told to lose weight.
During one challenge, they were assigned animals.
“I’ve picked an animal that I think represents each and every one of you,” Mr. J revealed.
Keenyah was not happy when she was made to pose as an elephant after being told she needed to lose weight
Keenyah was made to pose as ‘gluttony’ in a grave while eating donuts and posing in bacon grease
Naturally, she was none too pleased that she was given an elephant.
‘Everybody else has these sexy little animals. I get to be the big, fat elephant! Ugh!… What is going on?’ Keenyah asked.
Additionally, for the seven deadly sins challenge, she was assigned gluttony and posed in a coffin while eating donuts and covered in bacon grease.
Fast forward to cycle 12, Lauren ‘London’ Levi was also told that she had been gaining weight and needed to take care of it.
Mr. J scolded had a chat with her about the ‘really shocking’ of her weight gain.
‘It’s just clear that you’re not taking care of your body,’ he told her. ‘As a model you’re expected to treat your body like a temple.’
On top of this, the model opened up about having an eating disorder while she was on the show so it’s no surprise these remarks had an effect on her.
In cycle 12, Lauren ‘London’ Levi was also told that she had been gaining weight and ‘not taking care of her body’
Once she left the show, she revealed that she struggled with an eating disorder shortly before she joined
During her exit speech she said, ‘Yeah, I have gained weight but it’s nothing that I can’t lose.’
After the show, she told E! her eating disorder got ‘super severe’ in her ‘senior year in high school, which was actually… right before I went on to the show.’
So when she was on the show, her ‘self-confidence was already kind of shaky because of my experience with my [ED] beforehand.’
Inversely, Tyra and the show’s creative team have maintained that the show has broken boundaries in regards to diversity and body positivity.
The show did feature a what they considered to be a plus-size winner in cycle ten. Whitney Thompson was a size ten when she was crowned winner.
While speaking with EW, Tyra claimed that ‘Top Model has normalized what difference is in beauty.’
‘It starts with my personal journey of being a black woman, first of all, in the fashion industry,’ she explained.
‘Even though I was a successful supermodel, I was hearing “no” quite often. Being curvy and not having a body that was a cookie-cutter [shape]… [I had to figure] out how to pivot my career to make my curves work for me.’
‘Being black and being curvy made me empathize with people who didn’t fit the cookie cutter.’
In 2017, Tyra claimed that ‘Top Model has normalized what difference is in beauty’
‘Being black and being curvy made me empathize with people who didn’t fit the cookie cutter,’ Tyra said of her mindset while creating America’s Next Top Model
Tyra and the show’s creative team have maintained that the show has broken boundaries in regards to diversity and body positivity
She added: ‘In putting these girls on the show and saying, “You are beautiful,” I wasn’t necessarily telling them they were beautiful; I was using them as a vessel to tell millions of girls around the world who looked like them that they were beautiful.’
‘This has always been a passion of mine. It’s so nice to see it’s normalizing. I guess Top Model has normalized what difference is in beauty.’
However, fans begun to call out the show for not only discriminating against weight but race as well.
In one instance, another Black contestant, Yaya DaCosta, was condemned for ‘proving her Africanness’ by the judges panel.
For a fashion challenge, Tyra had asked why she chose a cowboy hat over a kente-patterned kufi cap – which can deemed stereotypical towards African culture.
In an effort to avoid conflict, Yaya explained that the cowboy hat was ‘more on the simple side compared to the other hats.’
‘Yaya, you’re, I feel, half African, half cowgirl,’ one of the judges quipped. ‘It looks like you’re about to ride a giraffe. I’m not feeling it.’
Another judge then asserted, ‘you have this intensity to prove your Africanness and I think that sometimes it’s overbearing. It’s just too much.’
‘In response in trying to prove myself as an African, I did not choose that hat for the very specific reason that it’s very cliche,’ Yaya said in defense.
‘The fabric that it’s made from is very artificial and cheap. Very fake kente.’
Yaya was made to defend herself for choosing to wear a cowboy hat after being accused of constantly trying to prove her ‘Africanness’
While Tyra gave the judge a look, she ultimately decided to defend the panelist, telling Yaya, ‘There’s a different way of explaining yourself and being defensive and you’re being very defensive. And it’s not attractive.’
Additionally, fans feel that Kelle Jacob was treated unfairly when they criticized her for her skin.
The models were challenged to pose for re-touched and un-touched photos.
For the retouched photo, judge Nigel Barker told her she looked like a ‘deer in headlights.’ However, while comparing the two photos, Janice said it was ‘like a Hitchcock film’ and had them flip back and forth between the pictures while she jokingly made horror film sound effects.
Tyra noted that Kelle seemed hurt, to which the model replied, ‘It’s very shocking to see it like this.’
She continued: ‘The people that see my skin usually tell me I have very beautiful skin. I know that there were times when my eyes were very intense.’
‘But if it was intense and better than this, they wouldn’t have chosen this shot,’ Tyra replied. ‘You cannot place the blame on someone else.’
‘I’m not placing the blame on someone else,’ Kelle responded, to which Tyra snapped back, ‘Yes you are. Right now, you are not growing.’
Kelle was noticeably upset when the judges criticized her skin and facial appearance
The biggest point of racial tension on the show was when the contestants were forced to pose as races that didn’t match their own.
During a season four photoshoot, the contestants had to embody different ethnicities using makeup and clothing – including East Indian, African American, and Eskimo.
‘Me and a few girls were like, I don’t feel comfortable doing it,’ Lluvy – who is Latina – recalled. ‘I was like, “This is not OK. This is straight-up blackface.”‘
Makeovers were another point of infamous controversy on the show. Tyra had the contestants go through intense hair transformations. There was immense pressure for the contestants to go through with the makeovers, even if they didn’t like the changes or the changes were potentially dangerous.
Season one contestant Ebony Haith said she was unhappy after the stylist on the show was unable to cut the non-white women’s hair during makeovers, so a black stylist had to be brought in instead.
Cycle one contestant Ebony Haith said she was unhappy after the stylist on the show was unable to cut the non-white women’s hair during makeovers
Unsure how to handle her hair, Ebony was left shaving it off with her own razor – which she bought at a CVS
Unsure how to handle her hair, Ebony was left shaving it off with her own razor – which she bought at a CVS.
She was eventually eliminated for having ‘rough’ skin during one of her photoshoots, which left her ‘floored.’
Aminat said that she ‘lost all respect’ for Tyra in the process
She added: ‘I think at that moment, I felt like there was no compassion towards the plight of all of us, all the things we’ve been through.’
Aminat Ayinde, a cycle 12 contestant who came in second place, recalled facing ‘psychological warfare’ during her time on the show.
During Aminat’s makeover, the salon wanted to use relaxers to make her naturally-wavy hair straighter, despite her telling them that she was allergic to the product.
‘This is what Tyra wants – this is how we have to do it,’ Aminat recalled the salon worker telling her. She added: ‘This is when I understood: Tyra doesn’t give a f**k.’
Eventually, after she was eliminated, she removed her extensions and claimed she found a two-inch bald spot on her hair, which she said took three years to grow back.
The model was disheartened by the process of the show as a whole and shared that she ultimately ‘lost all respect’ for Tyra.
During Aminat’s makeover, the salon used relaxers despite her telling them that she was allergic to the product – which she claimed left her with a two-inch bald spot. She is pictured before (left) and after (right) her makeover
One of the biggest ANTM scandals of all time arose with Angelea Preston.
Angelea won the 2011 season and was due to sign a $100,000 contract with Covergirl cosmetics but she was stripped of her title and scrubbed from the finale episode after another unnamed contestant reported to Tyra Banks and the show that she had worked previously as an escort.
‘We’re back in Los Angeles on the Top Model set and we’re here for a special finale that’s being conducted under unusual circumstances,’ she said.
‘It turns out that after shooting was wrapped, our production team and the network learned information from Angelea that disqualifies her from the competition,’ co-judge Nigel Barker added somberly.
Angelea was humiliated when she found out her title was stripped and her past work was put out into the media.
‘It was already traumatic going through the sex-work stuff, and now to add insult to injury, they were punishing me for the rest of my life. I was gutted. Back then you didn’t talk about [sex work] because it was shameful, and I felt ashamed. And [Top Model] made me feel even more ashamed than I already was,’ she told Bustle.
Angelea Preston won the 2011 All Stars season of America’s Next Top Model but was stripped of the title because she had worked as an escort. Producers claimed it was news to them that emerged after filming wrapped but Preston (right in 2015) now says they knew all along
After appearing on cycles 12 and 14 of ANTM, Angelea struggled to get work and was forced to turn to sex work to make ends meet.
Fellow contestant Krista White had reached out Tyra out of concern for Angelea’s safety, but her concerns went unanswered.
‘I understood how she came into that work, and what she needed to do to make money. There was no way for her to find [modeling] work or take care of herself or anything. No one was hiring or booking her,’ she told Bustle.
‘And for Tyra to be like, “I’m for women, I’m for girls, I want to have your back.” When it came time for her to show up and really help someone, what happened?’
Meanwhile, it became clear that they heard Krista’s concerns since it was brought up during her return interview for ANTM All Stars. Her interviewee, Michelle Mock, told her she knew ‘what had happened to her.’
‘Up until this point, I didn’t know if Krista’s call had even reached anyone. So when Michelle mentioned it, I realized someone higher up did know what was going on with me, and did nothing.’
‘To my understanding, she knew what happened, but she wasn’t going to say anything to anyone else. It was going to be our little secret.
Angelea with D’Amato, who was later named the winner. It remains unclear who alerted producers to Angelea’s past. D’Amato has spoken out in the past against the show and its treatment of contestants
Up until a certain point, models felt nervous to talk about their struggles on the show. After all, contestant Sarah Hartshorne claimed they were told that if they ‘talked about anything that had happened or was going to happen we would be sued for $10M.’
However, 30 former contestants and crew members banded together for an interview with Insider. Between all of these voices, it became clear that these tough experiences on ANTM weren’t a few unfortunate circumstances but rather a collective, universal experience.
Contestants Eugena Banks told Insider that she couldn’t look at pictures of herself for years after her time in the show, due to a plunge in her confidence and self-worth.
‘The show left a trail of very hurt young girls who really had to overcome a lot of self-esteem and self-worth issues,’ she said.
‘Talking to a lot of contestants, it took us years to recover the things that we lost on that show.’
Other contestants told Insider that they were given $38 a day for groceries, but that they often decided not to spend the money on food and keep it instead, since it was sometimes the only pay that the would receive for their time on the show.
The models said they usually filmed for 20 hours in a row, with cycle three contestant Ann Markley claiming that one judging session lasted until 3 A.M.
That night, the women only slept for two hours before filming resumed again at 5 A.M.
The models said they usually filmed for 20 hours in a row and got hardly any sleep. Rebecca is pictured fainting during the show
It was also reported that women fainting or becoming lightheaded was a normal occurrence during the judging panels.
While the show launched major careers for some contestants, it ruined others’ self-esteem, Insider reported.
Lisa said the show plagued her mental health, leaving her traumatized and suffering from regular panic attacks.
Another contestant, named ShaRaun Brown, said she developed depression after participating in cycle 11.
Cycle seven winner CariDee English entered rehab for addiction years after winning the show, and at the time, she detailed some of the problems she faced in a blog post.
‘I love love what I have made for myself since my win, but mentally, it’s horrific,’ she wrote. ‘And any girl who has been on ANTM can back me up.’
Cycle 18’s Alisha White declined to comment, writing in an email to Insider that an ‘article alone wouldn’t be enough to really sum up the experience, suffering, and confusion I and my family have had to deal with over the past 10 years. The damage has been done already.’
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