Underrated Moment In Black History: When Tyra Banks Taught White People How To Moisturize
Warner Bros. Television screenshot
Black folks as a people have a collective predisposition against ashiness. In concept, this would be something that is not just limited to us, because moisturizing is for the people, just like Wu Tang and hot wings. However, extensive experiences — and by extensive, I mean my anecdotal moisturizing experiences involving White friends, colleagues, and coworkers in my near three decades of life — have simply proven this not to be the case.
You ever gone on an out-of-town trip with folks whose melanin is relatively in absentia and peep them hop out of the shower and put clothes on without even the most cursory look at some Lubriderm? I’m not even talking fancy butters or anything. It’s like the first time I found out as a kid that not everyone eats rice with every meal. Or when you hear a man say “oh I don’t do that” in regards to oral gratification. (Yes these people still exist, because evil presents itself in many fashions.)
If you think about it, the whole anti-aging industry is basically built on White folks’ inattention to a daily lotioning routine in their younger years. Multiple winters of ambivalence about the layer of chalk dust forming on their epidermis in the winter months culminate in being dumbfounded as to why they can’t pass for their daughters in middle age.
Enter Tyra Lynne Banks.
Tyra Banks is many things — model, mogul, actress, singer, unrepentant egomaniac, etc — but one of my favorite iterations of her career was her stint as a talk show host. For a glorious five years on what is now the CW network, Tyra regaled us with various iterations of what she considered “social experiments.” There was the time that she went undercover in a fat suit. And the time she went undercover as a homeless person. And the time she went undercover as a man. And the time she went undercover as a stripper named Chanel.
In an ideal world, I have 5000 words to discuss at length all of the most pivotal moments of the now-defunct Tyra show and what they contributed to the culture and best practices of social science research. (I didn’t even mention the time she brought Naomi Campbell to discuss a largely one-sided feud that Naomi clearly didn’t care for anymore.) But we are not in such a world, as far as I last checked Keri Hilton’s Instagram, and therefore I will focus on the Tyra Show’s greatest introduction she ever gave to the dozens of soccer moms willing to go to a studio in Burbank at 10 AM on a Wednesday: a jar of vaseline.
You read that right. Tyra Lynne Banks from Inglewood, California got all these middle-aged White folks hyped for her “super duper, no fail, skin-saving, eye and anything cream!!”… made them open up a bedazzled $3.99 jar of Vaseline..and told them that “their wildest dreams have come true.”
When I originally saw this episode, I thought that Tyra was a lunatic. While the previous statement may still be up for debate, I’ve also come to realize that Tyra is a both a shady genius and a woman of the people. She basically got White women to scream in appreciation at her telling them that they were all ashy as hell and that their problems could be solved with a $3.99 container that she upmarked to $100 for no discernible reason other than she’s Tyra. That my friends, is peak finessing.
Tyra’s contributions to the talk show industry have gone understated long enough! In another life, I would have a talk show where I would find multiple ways to trick White people into doing things that are just basic human decency: season food, not bring pets into restaurants, abandoning the concept of year-round flip flops…
I thank you Tyra for all you have done and hopefully will continue to do. In this wintry prison known as New York, there are many a crusty elbow in need of your gospel.