Tyra Banks on why she is “one and done” when it comes to having kids
Tyra Banks immortalized “smizing,” the art of smiling with your eyes on her long-running series, America’s Next Top Model. She ordered haters to “kiss my fat ass” in 2007 after being body-shamed for having curves. And she made history as the first Black model on the covers of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and GQ.
Suffice to say, the very candid Banks isn’t here to stroke egos or mince words. She has the same no-bullshit approach when she’s talking about growing her family and having her son, York Banks Asla, born in 2016 via surrogate. Her road to motherhood was full of roadblocks, detours, and full-on emotional crashes. But she got there. Her own way.
“Mine wasn’t just strictly infertility. It was also having trouble holding the baby inside of me. After I got past that and then was trying to do the whole surrogacy thing. It was really, really hard. I went through that privately — I didn’t even tell all of my family, but my mom knew. But I think that’s about it. A couple of friends knew what I was going through. And I just wanted to keep that private until my son was born and to be transparent about that. I feel very fortunate that I was able to have my son after many, many, many rounds of IVF,” she says.
While Banks would love to have more kids, she’s counting her blessings that she has one healthy child. “I’m one and done but not by choice,” she says.
After being home with her kid since March, Banks is back at work, hosting the new season of Dancing with the Stars. And in a brilliant branding move, she’s launching Smize Cream, an ice cream line she created because Banks is an unapologetic aficionado of the stuff, and also because it’s her one endeavor that her son thinks is cool. Lest you’re wondering, even supermodels feel crippling working mom guilt (so much so that Banks joined a Zoom support group to help her work through it) and worry about being taken seriously.
“It’s very difficult because it’s not just me doing Dancing with the Stars. It is also on me as an entrepreneur and launching a whole new product in my ice cream and going from zero to a store and product with a very minimal team of people that Zoom together twice a day to connect. At the same time, I have to speak to the CEOs of companies. And I have my son crawling on my back,” she says.
“I used to be a little bit embarrassed about it at the beginning of quarantine. But then when you see that other CEO’s daughter crawling on his back, you realize that we are all in this together. As a woman, sometimes we have this thing of like, ‘Oh, we have to show strength and we can’t show that we’re human.’ I’m a mom. I love my son. Everybody’s in this situation. So if he wants to sit on my lap during a very important meeting, he sits on my lap, and I still get the business done and he learns about the business. Maybe he’ll run the business one day.”
At the very least, her child already appreciates self-care. “We brush teeth and we go to the bathroom. Then we do the bath and we play in the bath. And I’m trying to do math in the bath and count the toys. And then I’m taking the toys out and asking, ‘How many do you have?’ We try to homeschool any way we can here. We lotion up then he gets in the bed. We read the story and then he tells me the story back then we have to pray and then he gets a massage. He gets a foot massage with like Vaseline or Aquaphor,” says Banks, who championed Vaseline as the single multi-use product she can’t live without.
Over an afternoon Zoom interview, Banks is witty, engaging, and manages to dole out advice without being back-handed about it. She knows how to find the light, how to angle screens correctly to hide that unfortunate chin zit, and how to angle your face so you look serious without seeming like you’re trying too hard. She’s self-aware and says it’s a product of her upbringing.
“My mama has such confidence. Such self-love. She tries to lose weight sometimes but she loves herself and growing up and seeing that and seeing my mom embrace so much of herself — it created self-esteem in me. It was subliminal, constant positivity about the body,” says Banks.
When I was young, she had like rolls on her waist. And she used to be like, ‘I’m gonna play the accordion for the kids.’ She wasn’t saying this is disgusting. My mom doesn’t dye her hair. And I got her into wearing wigs, but she buys wigs that are full of gray hair. So again, it’s those types of things — just growing up and seeing that has allowed me to not have all of the insecurities that I could have had.”