The supermodel didn't stress over her photo shoot prep
“You know what? I started preparing for the shoot and I thought, ‘Let me get it together and look like Tyra back in the day,’ Banks, 46, told the outlet. “I was thinking, ‘Oooh, I want the comments.’ But then I suddenly thought why I am going to force that? I’m hungry and I want a pizza.”
The reporter was understandably skeptical, “Forgive me, but I’m not seeing pizza in those photographs.” But the model, actress and entrepreneur — who’s the queen of the clapback — cleverly responded with, “That’s because I know how to pose my butt off.”
Her SI Swim cover, which features a yellow Andi Bagus bikini (and Banks’ signature “smize”) was photographed in Great Exuma, Bahamas, by Laretta Houston. It marks the supermodel’s third time appearing on the famous cover during the course of her nearly 30-year modeling career. In 1997, Banks became the first-ever black woman to land a solo cover of the issue.
Years later, at age 32, Banks stepped away from the modeling world to pursue other things (most notably, hosting and producing America’s Next Top Model).
She explained her decision to The New York Times, “I didn’t want to age out. I walked out with a three-year contract on the table, but I wanted to say goodbye before the industry said goodbye to me. Leave before they leave you. My mother used to tell me that.”
Banks made her surprising 2019 return to modeling specifically to do the Sports Illustrated cover again. The Life-Size 2 star says the first one totally changed her life, “It was explosive.”
She continued, “You have to think back to remember what that did for an appreciation of black beauty to have a black girl, a girl next door type, on the cover of one of the most mass mainstream magazines of our lives. It was a societal statement, a political statement and an economic one.”
After revealing the new cover on Good Morning America the body-positive star had no problem admitting that for this year’s cover shoot, she’s 20 pounds heavier than she was in 1997. The model industry veteran often vocalizes her feelings about unrealistic standards of beauty.
“I’m happy that the fashion industry is finally catching up,” she told PEOPLE last March. “What I’m hoping for is that the Ashley Graham‘s, the Gigi Hadid’s, everyone is just models. Not plus, not short, not trans, not curvy. I just want it to be normal.”