Tyra Banks is back and better than ever. The supermodel and entrepreneur is returning to the cover of Sports Illustrated, 23 years after being the first black woman to be a solo cover star in 1997.
Banks, 45, appeared on Good Morning America to announce the cover, which was shot by Laretta Houston in Great Exuma, Bahamas. “My first one was 23 years ago, how crazy is that,” shes exclaims on the morning show. “I’m like damn — I’m 45!”
For the cover, Banks recreated her iconic red polka dot bikini moment during the shoot, but this time with a yellow bikini. “We couldn’t find the exact one in the archives — it was the polka dot bikini so we recreated that bikini,” she said. “I recreated it [the shoot] — 25 pounds heavier.”
The America’s Next Top Model host also revealed the cover on her Instagram alongside an inspiring message about beauty standards. “This is for everybody that has been told that they are not good enough because of their body, their age, their everything,” the post reads. “#BanX is here to tell you that you ARE friggin’ fierce no matter what anybody says! Drop mic now!”
“BanX”, she tells Lara Spencer in her GMA segment is the modeling name she has given herself. “That “X” stands for X cookie cutter beauty,” she explains. “It’s all about all ages, all sizes, all colors, all everything.”
Since the start of her career in the 1990s, Banks has been an advocate for body positivity, and the 2019 SI issue is all about embracing diversity.
“This year’s issue has one of the biggest and broadest samplings of beauty that we’ve ever featured,” says SI Swimsuit Editor MJ Day. It was also recently announced that 21-year-old model Halima Aden will be featured as the first Muslim model to wear a hijab and burkini (the full-coverage swimsuit worn by Muslim women) in the much-anticipated annual publication.
The issue is a groundbreaking moment not just for Sports Illustrated but for the modeling industry as a whole. Two other models will also get their own covers in the 2019 SI issue: USA National Women’s Soccer team star Alex Morgan and Olympic gold medalist Camille Kostek. It’s a sure sign of positive change for women, and we can’t wait to see the rest of the historic issue.