5 Questionable Photo Shoots That Have Not Aged Well

5 Questionable Photo Shoots That Have Not Aged Well


America’s Next Top Model was a beloved reality competition show in the 2000s and 2010s. In the 2020s, the Tyra Banks-fronted show came under renewed scrutiny as viewers rediscovered some of the problematic photo shoots that were done on the show.

Tyra Banks | Noam Galai/Getty Images

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Tyra Banks | Noam Galai/Getty Images

Cycle 4’s race-swapping shoot

One of the most infamous photo shoots in Top Model history took place during its fourth season in 2005. The models were tasked with creating their own “Got Milk?” ads and posing with children. But the shoot had a twist: the contestants would each be transformed by the hair and makeup team into different races.

The result was some of the white models posing as Black women, Black models as Asian women, and Black models as white women. Naturally, in the decades since then, fans have come to realize the problematic nature of changing races for a photo shoot and putting white models in blackface.

Cycle 7’s model stereotypes shoot

Cycle 7 of America’s Next Top Model kicked off with a photo shoot centered around model stereotypes. Among those were the model who throws their phone at their assistant, inspired by Naomi Campbell, and a model who won’t get out of bed for less than $10,000, inspired by Linda Evangelista’s famous quote saying she does the same.

Among the stereotypes, however, were those of an anorexic model and a bulimic model, each portrayed by twins Amanda and Michelle. Contestant Megg, meanwhile, played a drug-addicted model. The glamorization of these images hasn’t sat right with fans since then.

Cycle 8’s murder shoot

The following season, the contestants participated in a photo shoot where they each had to portray a woman who was brutally murdered. Among the methods of “killing” were being shot, strangled, and gutted. It seemingly made light of violent deaths that women often face, frequently at the hands of partners.

Cycle 13’s ‘hapa’ shoot

Cycle 13 of America’s Next Top Model featured a lineup of petit models standing at 5’7″ and shorter. When the final six were in Hawai’i, they were tasked with portraying various “hapa” women, a term used to describe people who are Native Hawaiian mixed with other races. Among those portrayed were Black and Japanese women who were part Native Hawaiian. Similarly to cycle 4’s race-changing shoot, it hasn’t exactly aged well.

‘All Stars’ Michael Jackson shoot

Cycle 17 of Top Model was a massive moment for the series, as fan-favorite contestants from previous seasons came back for the ultimate chance at redemption. In one episode, the models paid homage to the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, throughout his various eras in his life and career, from The Jackson 5 to his days as a solo superstar. When portraying his younger years, some of the models’ skin was darkened, harkening back to the blackface resemblance of previous race-switching shoots.

What Tyra Banks has said about the problematic photo shoots

In the spring of 2020, as people around the world were locked down at home at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people began watching or rewatching old seasons of America’s Next Top Model. Upon discovery of these outdated photo shoots, fans on Twitter blasted host and creator Tyra Banks for endorsing such creative decisions.

The Dancing With the Stars host took to Twitter to address the backlash. “Been seeing the posts about the insensitivity of some past ANTM moments and I agree with you,” she said. “Looking back, those were some really off choices. Appreciate your honest feedback and am sending so much love and virtual hugs.” 

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