After Rebecca Romijn told ET that Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid were "social media" models, "not true supermodels", and Stephanie Seymour said supermodels were a "thing of the past," Banks expressed how uncomfortable she's become about the recent drama among her peers. "This supermodel war is raging and it's really tearing me apart," she tweeted. "I wanna quote Rodney King so badly right now."
Banks writes on her website that she feels likes she's "in the middle" of this feud because she had both a career in high fashion, but also "created a modeling reality show," America's Next Top Model, that helped aspiring models come up in the industry. "There’s a level of poetic first-hand experience and understanding that I have and want to share about this escalating battle between supermodels of the past and present," she shares.
The 42-year-old star explains that she thinks the feud stems from how hard it was to be a supermodel before all the technological advances. "We worked runways and shot magazine spreads together, schlepped to countless go-sees, used pay phones for on-the-go communication, and subways for transportation around the globe -- no cell phones, Ubers or Lyfts around. Our GPS were huge, awkward maps in Italian and French that we pulled out when lost and scared," Banks laments. "We started out by booking low-end work for janky magazines that no longer exist and walked in way too many showroom fashion shows at the local mall. And, after all that hard work, dedication, sacrifice, sidewalk pounding, map folding, metro riding, model apartment living… after all the blood, sweat, fears and floods of tears… we finally were bestowed with the coveted title of Supermodel!"
Banks says supermodels of her time are in a "state of shock" after seeing how aspiring models are making it in the present day. "We witness young girls on reality shows and super popular girls on social media now being called Supermodels and think, 'WHAT?! It’s not fair! Is that kind of success even real?'" she continues. "There is insanely high demand for these girls from the public, and yes, from the intimidating, elusive fashion industry too. I know you’re thinking, 'But HOW can the industry justify them? They didn’t sweat and SUFFER like I did!!!'"
The new mom goes on to defend the younger models and insists that they're hustling just as hard as she was back in the day.
"You’re kicking ass, working hard, running from show to show, shoot to shoot and party to party (because you have to be seen and have a cool social media post that night because your followers are complaining you haven’t been posting enough lately). You’re driving yourself into exhaustion all while showing the world post by post that it looks so easy, when in reality, it is anything but," she exclaims. "The pressure is ON. You have to be perfect but relatable, friendly yet intimidating, sexy but not too much or you’ll get barraged with the capital ‘S’ word all over your feeds. You have to look put together all the time, not just on the catwalk but as you arrive backstage. The world is watching your every move, judging whether or not you have acceptable personal style."
So, are models like Jenner and Hadid "real supermodels" in the eyes of Banks? "You're on countless covers, rule all the campaigns, walk everyone’s runway, have top designers on speed dial and everyone knows your name," she writes. "I think the answer is obvious."
Banks is adamant that the modeling industry needs to open their "arms even wider" and accept more models because it's "no longer an exclusive, unattainable club that few can access."
"Anyone can be a model! If you have social media accounts, you can pose and post away, build your followers and make cold hard money all while having lots of fun," she adds. "The modeling world is now a democracy and we need to celebrate it, lean into it."
Last week, Jenner spoke out about those slamming her status in the industry. "If people want to call Gigi and I supermodels now, it doesn't take anything away from supermodels of the past," she wrote on her website. "Obviously, I have so much respect for those women, but right now, we're the models of this time."