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At 45 Tyra Banks comes out of retirement to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated

Tyra Banks is seen wearing a fuchsia dress on May 8, 2019 in New York City.
Tyra Banks is seen wearing a fuchsia dress on May 8, 2019 in New York City.
Image: Gotham/GC Images via Getty Images

Former supermodel and the woman who brought us the Next Top Model TV phenomenon is back in the spotlight as a swimsuit cover model for the summer 2019 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.

Banks became the first solo black woman to grace the cover of the magazine’s notorious swimsuit edition back in 1997. Although she was also on the 1996 cover, she had shared it with model Valeria Mazza. Now 22 years later, the model and mom to a three year old boy, came out of retirement to be one of three cover models at the age of 45.

Banks told Entertainment Tonight that even though she is over ten kilograms heavier than when she was first on the cover of Sports Illustrated, she is celebrating being "real". This fits in with the issue’s theme, "shattering perceptions", which also features a model in a burkini and a hijab as well as a 54-year old former SI swimsuit model.

She also told the publication that her obsession with ‘firsts’ has meant that she is always on the lookout to open doors for others and get them into spaces that they otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to be in. That’s how photographer Laretta Houston became the first black women to shoot an SI Swimsuit. According to Banks, she discovered Houston on Instagram after purposely looking for a black female photographer.

“I spoke to MJ [Day], the editor of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition, and I said, 'MJ, you guys changed my life. Twenty-two years ago, you put me on that cover and then you put me on again. Overnight, it changed my life. It gave me such a powerful platform, and now I want to change somebody's life. I want us to find an African American, female photographer.”

Congrats to Tyra Banks for continuing to be a force to be reckoned with in the modeling world irrespective of her age. That is definitely fierceness.

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