The New York Times Magazine recently did a very lengthy cover story all about the giant, elastic, vaguely human-shaped ego that is Tyra Banks—which means that Tyra now has a new, superfluous, totally irrelevant "I" statement to tack on to the advice she'll give to future America's Next Top Model contestants. Expect to hear her use, "When I was profiled for a cover story by the New York Times Magazine" as a preamble to everything she says next cycle.
Still, the article did address some very important, Tyra-related questions, namely, "Exactly how self-involved is Tyra?" The answer to that is "So self-involved she gazed in the mirror long enough to cultivate 275 different smiles."
Tyra Banks has 275 smiles. Like a star athlete who has perfected a jump shot or a curveball, Banks has studied, honed and mastered the smile. In her arsenal are the "surprise smile," the "angry but still smiling" smile, the "flirting with boyfriend" smile and the "commercial" smile, which, like the rest of Tyra's smiles, was designed and perfected when Banks, who is now 34, began modeling at 15.
"Smiles come naturally to me, but I started thinking of them as an art form at my command," Banks told me. "I studied all the time. I looked at magazines, I'd practice in front of the mirror and I'd ask photographers about the best angles. I can now pull out a smile at will."
Naturally, the New York Times asked Tyra to smile some of these perfectly calibrated, highly nuanced, robotically precise smiles on command—tall order, I know—and Tyra happily obliged. But I think some of the photographs were mislabeled. For example, this photo is supposed to show Tyra's "flirting with boyfriend" smile:
but that's clearly her "Mmm. Do I smell pancakes?" smile.
This photo is labeled as Tyra's "surprise smile."
But it's obviously her "That Billy Mays Mighty Putty stuff is amazing!" smile. The rest of the photos are correctly labeled below:
Tyra's "I Just Realized I Can See My Reflection In The Back Of My iPhone" smile:
The "Ha ha ha. Photographers? There are photographers here?" smile.
And, of course, Tyra's patented "Dead Inside, But Making The Best Of It" smile.