How Fans Really Feel About Tyra Banks and Her ‘BanX’ Name Change

Twenty-two years ago, Tyra Banks was the first black woman to be featured on the Sports Illustrated annual cover solo shot. For this alone, Banks was already groundbreaking.

Since then, Banks has grown into an icon in the modeling industry. She grew her brand and became famous for hosting America’s Next Top Model. She’s an active voice in the body positivity movement in the modeling industry, and everyone’s heard of her “smize” by now.

As if this queen of the runway weren’t already royal enough, the 45-year-old model came out of retirement to be featured on the 2019 Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition a second time. And she crushed it.

Banks took this opportunity to focus the spotlight on her new “model name,” BanX. But what does it mean, and how do fans feel about the change?

Back in the spotlight

Tyra Banks
Tyra Banks | Dominik Bindl/Getty Images

This cover is actually Banks’ third appearance on Sports Illustrated. In addition to her solo appearance in 1997, Banks was also featured on the cover alongside Valeria Mazza in 1996. This year’s photograph was taken by Laretta Houston in Great Exuma, Bahamas.

Banks had an announcement to make alongside her cover appearance, however. While the cover featured her as Tyra Banks, she had other plans for her name.

“But just my model name,” explained Banks. “You know how models have interesting names, different names like Twiggy? She wasn’t born Twiggy. I was born Tyra Banks, K-S.”

What is Banx?

Banks says she’s changing her model name in order to point out the changing standards of beauty. But what does Banx actually mean? For Banks, it all comes back to body positivity and reshaping our perspective.

“Yeah, Banx with an X. Because I want me coming out of retirement to be bigger than me, and for me to represent women to say, enough of this cookie-cutter thing. As much as we’ve progressed with beauty, there’s still a long way to go of opening up the door and redefining what it means, and so that X stands for ‘X what you heard about what beauty means,’” explained Banks. “We are making a new rule that so many more people can fit into this beauty box. Let’s bust the box open.

In a tweet featuring the cover shot, Banks also 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!”

Banks went on to add that, “BanX is me, but she’s also every woman. BanX represents rebirth and that beauty boundaries only exist to be broken.” According to Banks, her new moniker is emblematic of “X-ing out cookie-cutter beauty.”

What do the fans think?

Tyra Banks
Tyra Banks | Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

So how do Banks’ many fans feel about her return to the cover page, and the name change?

On Banks’ Instagram post, one comment wrote, “I love you! From day one. You have always made me feel like I was a top model, even at my worst times, weight gain and fluffy to thin. I have a love/hate relationship with weight control. But you are awesome and thanks for always helping a girl out and not even knowing it! You’re amazing and keep up the great work!!!!”

“And this is what we call a certified flex. #QUEEN,” wrote a Twitter fan.

The fan reaction has been largely positive so far — people are finding Banks’ message uplifting and inspiring. There have been a few comments pointing out some hypocrisy, however. One Instagram user commented, “YOU on YOUR SHOW told me I was not good enough when you cut me from A CAST ROLE BECAUSE I HAD BRACES. I find this hysterical.”