Twenty-two years after she became the first black woman to land the highly anticipated Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover solo in 1997, Tyra Banks has come out of modeling retirement to grace the 2019 issue with her iconic presence.
Pictured in a yellow string bikini, she is one of three separate cover stars, sharing the honor with model and dancer Camille Kostek and World Cup champion soccer player Alex Morgan. The announcement was made Wednesday on “Good Morning America.”
Banks, whose decadeslong modeling career has included multiple turns in the magazine and now three covers (the first alongside Valeria Mazza in 1996), said she “never thought it would be possible to be 45 years old and on the cover of this magazine again” in an Instagram video posted by the magazine.
But the “America’s Next Top Model” host, who has been candid about both body image and the importance of diversity in her industry, plays directly into SI’s attempt to evolve its messaging as a whole. In an article announcing the cover stars on the magazine’s website, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editor MJ Day explained what made the decision to put Banks back on the cover an obvious one.
“Since Tyra’s first cover in 1996, she’s transformed herself into nothing less than a mogul, a cultural force and a supernova of inspiration and empowerment,” she said. “She’s kind of the Swimsuit Issue ethos come to life, everything we know this franchise can be.”
Banks echoed that sentiment in a tweet sharing the news. “This is for everybody that has been told that they are not good enough because of their body, their age, their everything,” she wrote.
This is for everybody that has been told that they are not good enough because of their body, their age, their everything. #BanX is here to tell you that you ARE friggin’ fierce no matter what anybody says!
Drop mic now!@SI_Swimsuit 2019 pic.twitter.com/bgUqGunhAe
— Tyra Banks (@tyrabanks) May 8, 2019
Banks posed in a slew of suits, including a pink polka-dot bikini reminiscent of the one she wore on the cover two decades ago.
The news comes a week after fans were delighted to see hijab-wearing model Halima Aden appear within the glossy, too ― the first to do so in a burkini and hijab. More of these wave-making developments, please.
Sports Illustrated’s 2019 swimsuit issue is on sale now.