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Debunking the quote on this classic Tyra Banks meme

Did Tyra Banks actually say that thing about choosing modeling over a baby?


Gabe Bergado

Internet Culture

Posted on Jan 28, 2016   Updated on May 27, 2021, 7:28 am CDT

Wednesday night, after all the hullabaloo over Amber Rose destroying Kanye West on Twitter, the denizens of the Internet that care an ounce about anything pop culture turned their attention to the birth of a future mogul. Tyra Banks announced on Instagram that her son York Banks Asla had entered the world.

It was surprise news from the supermodel/television personality/Vine enthusiast. She and her boyfriend Erik Asla had help from a surrogate mother. Last year while on the FABLife, Tyra disclosed that she was going through IVF treatments.

And alas, the America’s Next Top Model matriarch and her beau have welcomed to the world a baby son. As a longtime fan, I practically shrieked out of excitement when the Instagram post popped up in my feed. (For the record, I had spotted her and Asla together last September at the Internet Yami-Ichi and they were totes adorable with one another.) Then I also thought back to a moment on ANTM cycle 1 that has been roasted as one of the most outrageous things Tyra has ever said on the show.

The screenshot has more than 28,000 notes and is pretty popular among the Tumblr gays. It’s also made it into BuzzFeed and NewNowNext pieces about the most iconic moments from the show’s history.  Those words, “is keeping your baby more important than your modeling career?” are damn hilarious in the context of Tyra and the reality competition show. There’s been plenty of bizarrely entertaining moments in Top Model history. But then I thought a little harder about it—who could Tyra have been saying this to? I didn’t remember any of the contestants being a mother in the house that year. So I did some digging on Hulu.

I knew instantly that this must have been during panel, the portion of the episodes where the judges reviewed the girls’ photoshoot results, with how she was sitting down and the blue curtains. (Cycle 1 was very low budget compared to the model house and panel rooms of today.) I matched what Tyra was wearing—something blue and with straps, red earrings, and her hair swept over—to the season’s fifth episode, “The Girl Who Everyone Thinks Is Killing Herself.” And thus the rewatch commenced.

In this episode, the girls took photos while decked out in Reebok shoes and posing with NFL Rookie of the Year Clinton Portis. The instant from where that viral screenshot stems from looks to when there’s 7:19 left in the Hulu episode. 

Tyra isn’t talking about anyone’s baby or giving up said baby to keep a modeling career. Instead she’s talking about how Portis is looking at one of the model’s photos, Elyse. Here’s what the screenshot looks like up next to a fresh screenshot of the episode.

And this much is true: In this episode Tyra never asked, “is keeping your baby more important than your modeling career?” She’s certainly said some ridiculous things in the past, such as famously yelling at Tiffany. But nope, not this.

It’s understandable as to why we’d believe such a thing. Tyra has a track record of wacky turns. And cycle 1 hasn’t been easily available to stream until recently. 

Yet so many people circulated this image and various places have affirmed it to be true. In this case, it clearly wasn’t. 

Remember kids, some people do just come on this grand ol’ thing called the Internet and lie. It’s the world that we live in. And we can pretty confidently conclude that if Tyra did really ask the question, her answer would be something along the lines of “Yes, my baby is more important.” 

Screenshots via America’s Next Top Model/Hulu

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*First Published: Jan 28, 2016, 5:12 pm CST