Model Behavior

After 14 years of a media feud, Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell make peace illustrating that it’s time to strengthen sisterhood.

It’s happened to the best of us:  a stunning woman walks into the room, heads turn as she smiles and works her way around the room.  On the other side of the room are a group of women looking on with twisted faces and angry body language. “She thinks she’s all that!” one of the woman says with a sneer.

It’s not unusual for women to be catty when dealing with each other but women like Tyra Banks have had enough.  On an episode of  the new talk show “Tyra” which aired on Nov. 18, Tyra Banks made a call for sisterhood.  Her first step towards achieving her goal?  Facing her long time nemesis, Naomi Campbell.  "Sisterhood is important to me,” Tyra said on the show, “I feel women hate on each other – we’re jealous – and it has to stop." 

I watched this particular episode of the Tyra show the other day with a bit of skepticism.  I figured that the “wannabe Oprah” attempt to reconcile with Naomi would be cheesy and trite.  Surprisingly the meeting was very real.  Tyra Banks, who cleared out the entire audience so that she could talk to Naomi alone, sat in tears as she addressed her fellow mogul.  "I was tired of having to deal with you,” Tyra said, “I was tired of constantly hearing that I got cancelled from this job or that, or hearing that this photographer was called, or that magazine was called and (told) not to use me."

In a statement after the show, Tyra said "The press had cast Naomi and [me] as rivals before we ever met each other. Back then there were ten top models… but there was an unwritten rule that only one of them could be black… And Naomi was that one black girl." "

The whole ordeal made me think about black women and how we treat each other.  So often we make judgments of each other before we even met because we’re threatened. 

The world tells us that there is not enough space for multiple black women to be successful.  Just look at the way we are portrayed:  in TV shows, there is always one token black girl, on reality shows only one black girl seems to make it to the finals, and magazines usually have only one black face, if any, in their spreads.  The media only ordains certain black women as their darlings (think Halle Berry and Oprah). Why doesn’t there seem to be room for more of us at the top? Various politics contribute to the answer of that question, but the result that is often seen is black women feeling threatened by each other’s success.

Tyra Banks made a list of “The 7 Deadly Sins of Sisterhood.” The list included betrayal, manipulation, judging, envy, gossip, competition, and resentment.  These are the symptoms of the “hateration” that we often see happening between black women.  How many times have you seen a woman walking with a fine man and thought “she’s not that cute!” ?  How many times has someone mentioned a new job or opportunity making you silently twinge with guilt?  How many times have you walked past a woman only for her to look you up and down and twist her face with disgust for no reason?  Many of the ways that we treat each other are uncalled for and unnecessary. 

Black women are already underappreciated enough as it is. We have the race and gender strikes against us; the least we can do is learn to support each other! While there may not be that many positions of power available for us as there may be for others, making enemies our of each other won’t solve anything.

Maybe the steps towards changing the way black women treat each other are not as easy as a simple conversation and a skip down the runway like Tyra and Naomi did, but there is definitely a need for a call for sisterhood.  Analyzing the problem and trying to amend it is a wonderful beginning!