Tyra Banks' 2019 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue cover is marking the start of a new chapter for her as she comes out of retirement, and that includes taking on a new professional modeling name.
The supermodel who graced the cover of the magazine in 1996, alongside Valeria Mazza, and again in 1997, as the first black woman to land a solo Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover, was known as Tyra Banks. The woman in the yellow bikini on the latest cover would now like for people to call her BanX — at least when she's modeling.
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Banks, 45, who also has a successful career as an actress and TV host, said the new professional modeling name represents a "rebirth."
"Mononyms are exciting in the industry," she told SI. "But usually models use their first names, like Iman. I want to flip the script and go by my last name. I'm taking something familiar and making it new. I'm wiser now, and thicker. BanX is me, but she's also every woman. BanX represents rebirth and that beauty boundaries only exist to be broken."
She further explained the name change in an interview with Entertainment Tonight.
"I want me coming out of retirement to be bigger than me, and for me to represent women to say, enough of this cookie-cutter thing," she said. "As much as we've progressed with beauty, there's still a long way to go of opening up the door and redefining what it means, and so that X stands for 'X what you heard about what beauty means.' We are making a new rule that so many more people can fit into this beauty box. Let's bust the box open."
Banks is one of three cover stars for the 2019 Swimsuit issue. She said in an Instagram video that landing the cover of the Swimsuit issue again was a welcome surprise.
"Being the first black woman on the cover, I didn’t dream it because I never thought it was possible," she said. "Almost like this — I never thought it would be possible. I’m 45 years old, on the cover of this magazine again?"