Entertainment

Tyra Banks responds to backlash over ‘insensitivity’ in ‘America’s Next Top Model’

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 05: Tyra Banks hosts Nine West New campaign launch event in celebration of International Women's Day at ABG West Style Studio on March 05, 2020 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images for ABA)

 (CNN) — Tyra Banks has addressed criticism over episodes of “America’s Next Top Model,” after old clips of the TV modeling competition resurfaced online.

The 46-year-old model and TV personality — who created the show and hosted almost every episode until it ended in 2018 — was criticized on social media for her treatment of aspiring models and some tactics employed by the show.

In one intense clip from season six, aired in 2006, Banks and fellow judges are seen pressuring contestant Danielle Evans to get the gap in her front teeth closed through dental surgery. They insist she will never win the prized “CoverGirl” modeling contract with the distinctive feature.

“So, Danielle, you went to the dentist, but you refused to have your gap closed,” Banks told the aspiring model. “Do you really think you can have a CoverGirl contract with a gap in your mouth?”

“Yes, why not?” Evans responded at the time.

“This is all people see,” Banks said, putting her finger between her own two front teeth. “Easy, Breezy, Beautiful, CoverGirl. It’s not marketable.”

Evans, 34, was eventually crowned the season’s winner after agreeing to close a gap a little.

A photoshoot led by Banks in season 13, which had the models darken their skin tones to convey different races, was also widely condemned as “blackface.”

In a Twitter post Friday, Banks responded to the criticism, acknowledging the “insensitivity” of some of the scenes that aired.

“Been seeing the posts about the insensitivity of some past ANTM moments and I agree with you,” she told her 14.4 million followers. “Looking back, those were some really off choices. Appreciate your honest feedback and am sending so much love and virtual hugs.”

CNN has reached out to Banks’ representatives for comment.

Banks’ tweet came days after Evans, now aged 34, addressed the controversial dental surgery scenes in a video shared on Instagram.

Evans said she wanted to “take this time to build up and to speak to all of my young queens that saw that episode that were truly affected by Tyra’s words.”

She told viewers: “You’re beautiful, and I’m not talking about a physical feature. It doesn’t matter if you have a gap, stacked teeth, straight teeth, it matters not. It doesn’t matter if you’re black, brown, white, indifferent, other, it doesn’t matter. What makes you beautiful is in here.”

Ken Mok, one of the show’s producers, replied to Banks’ tweet, adding: “I look at some of those #ANTM moments and cringe. Just a FYI — the entire creative team made the choices in those shows — not just Tyra. So please feel free to yell at me for some of the worst moments in ANTM history! Apologies to all.”

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