An Ode To Tyra Banks: The Surrogate Mom Of This Generation
Tyra Banks looks like a living doll. She smiles with her eyes, has designers that dress her, and hangs out with queen Ken doll Miss Jay. In Life Size, she actually plays a doll. She’s brought to life by a misspoken spell on the behalf of Lindsay Lohan, who had intended to resurrect her dead mother. Just your classic mix up.
Although pouty adolescent Lohan is initially upset about the giant living doll she now has to lug around with her, Eve quickly becomes a grief counselor/mom/best friend surrogate Lohan learns to love. They sing a duet about being a star, wherever you live, wherever you are, and essentially become family through some obscure human-plastic relationship. We don’t question it. Fortunately, Eve (and Tyra) have not left us quite yet. There’s reportedly a sequel in the works, featuring Tyra as Eve, commanding you to “be a star” once again.
Thinking about Tyra and her role with Lohan got me thinking about Tyra in my own life, and the collective lives of my generation. If you want to stretch an analogy, Eve is to Lohan as Tyra is to us–a beloved surrogate mom. From America’s Next Top Model to The Tyra Banks Show–which was somehow always on when you got home from school–Tyra has always been there. When we were sick and had to stay home from school, she nursed us back to health with ANTM marathons. She taught us how to smize, and she probed our adolescent identity crises: Would we be “a model, the verb, or a model, the noun?” After 12 years and 22 cycles of ANTM, she’s kind of like family.
Remember when mom pretended to be a European model in season seven, shouting about “prepubescent bitches” stealing her thunder, then running and screaming like the mad woman of a cheap thriller? Or, when she got mad at a contestant for not caring that she got the boot in season four, and yelled like she’s “never yelled at a girl like this” in her life? Perhaps, the fond nostalgia of when she told us to kiss her fat ass on the Tyra Banks Show? Mom may have had a little temper, but we loved her none the less. She was fierce, held us to high standards, she was rooting for us, and taught us to not to dis her on international television.
Surrogate mom Tyra watched us grow up. Miss Jay and Nigel were there too. Shall we call them our estranged, fun drag uncle and grumpy gay grandpa, respectively? Did we all grow up in a predominantly gay family emanating around model-mom Tyra? Yes, I think we did. All in all, regardless of our real upbringings, we have to appreciate our surrogate family.
Sorry, to have been unable to make it the Thanksgiving reunion, mom. We can’t wait to see you return to the big screen in Life Size the sequel.
Images via TeenVogue, 1966 Mag.