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Tyra Banks on parenting, nose jobs, and the woman who inspired her success

The model and television personality recently co-authored a book with her mother, a woman she credits with making her the confident woman she is today.
/ Source: TODAY

Before Tyra Banks taught the world to "smize," the model and television personality was an insecure teenager who looked to her mom, Carolyn London, for direction.

Both Banks and London recently sat down with TODAY's Donna Farizan to talk about everything from parenting to nose jobs. The mother-daughter duo released a book in April titled, "Perfect is Boring: 10 Things my Crazy, Fierce Mama Taught me About Beauty, Booty and Being a Boss." Banks says one of the most important lessons she learned from her mom was how to be confident.

"I think one of my biggest insecurities growing up was losing a lot of weight," said Banks, explaining that in middle school she lost 30 pounds in a three month time frame and felt ashamed of her body. "People would stare at me because it was so awkward and I kind of looked ill...I was a very sad girl during those years."

London says her secret to helping her daughter through those difficult times was intuition.

"I just had to go with my gut because, as women, we all experience (body shame) in one way, shape or form," London said. "A lot of what I did was instill in her things that were much more important than your physical being — I tried to work really hard on the inner Tyra and to get her to focus on the great qualities that she had."

Banks says her mom reminded her of the traits she possessed that weren't physical, like her sense of humor and dance moves.

"Or she would compliment me on my handwriting — you know, just other things so that I didn't always think (my appearance) was the only thing that mattered," Banks recalled.

Banks says, while growing up, her mom was open about "the birds and the bees." And, London took the talk a step further, cautioning her daughter about the way sexual activity would feel physically and warning her about getting caught up in the moment with the wrong man.

"She's like, 'I want to talk about feelings.' I was like, 'Emotions?' She goes, 'No, physical feelings and what you will feel and the things a guy will say to make you do things that you might not be ready to do.'"

Banks entered the modeling world as a teen and later underwent a nose job. But the 44-year-old says the surgical procedure was a result of a broken nose she suffered as a child.

"She was three years old and she was running down our driveway and tripped and fell flat on her face," London said of the injury. "She didn't cry that much, so I thought, 'OK, everything's cool.'"

Everything was not cool, and after a makeup artist commented on the bones in her nose changing position, Banks sought the advice of a doctor.

"He looked at me and he's like, 'Your nose is a mangled mess...I need to fix it immediately,'" said Banks, adding that the doctor she initially saw showed her sketches of the "pointy" nose he planned to give her — one that "was definitely not African-American."

After seeking a second opinion with a plastic surgeon who had a reputation for being authentic to varying ethnicities in his work, Banks asked what her nose would have looked like if she had never fallen as a child.

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"He's like, 'Well, maybe like your mom,'" said Banks.

But London has given Banks, whose son, York, was born in 2016, more than just her nose shape. The actress credits her mother for her driven, goal-oriented personality as well. And, she hopes to pass the trait down to her own child.

"I think what made me what I am today is my mom being really tough on me in certain situations," Banks continued. "Sometimes when I was having a pity party, she would shake my shoulders and say, 'I did not raise a quitter.'"

"I want (my son) to have crazy work ethic and tunnel vision — to have a goal and go forward," said Banks. "Hopefully he understands that to reach something, he has to sacrifice today to enjoy things tomorrow."