Last week, multiple clips of Tyra Banks’s ongoing reality television show, America’s Next Top Model, began to go viral. Critics used the short videos to point out instances of Banks exhibiting problematic behavior, such as admonishing one contestant to close her gap and allowing another to do blackface. Over the weekend, the veteran model and show host spoke out about the videos.
“Been seeing the posts about the insensitivity of some past ANTM moments and I agree with you,” Banks wrote on Twitter. “Looking back, those were some really off choices. Appreciate your honest feedback and I am sending so much love and virtual hugs.”
Some fans have pointed out that the social climate, and therefore the modeling industry, was different at the time. One Twitter user accused critics of “trying to act woke.”
“Where did the ‘Tyra Banks is problematic’ train come from all of a sudden? we all enjoyed ANTM, stop trying to act woke all of a sudden,” the person wrote.
It’s true that mainstream ideas of what’s acceptable versus what isn’t have changed over time. Though, certain behaviors and beliefs have never been okay. Homophobia, fatphobia and colorism were once welcomed by the general public (and still are, despite society’s progress, if we’re being honest). Yet that doesn’t mean that these ills haven’t always been wrong.
So it doesn’t matter what time period these clips came from, because Banks’s words and actions were insensitive then, regardless of former widely held beliefs. Accountability and the world’s present moral compass operate separately.