Racial misrepresentation has been an issue that has plagued the media industry since its emergence in the early 1900s, when African Americans took on stereotypical roles as “mammies”, servants, cooks, and con artists. However, it is apparent from shows such as America’s Next Top Model that minorities are still perceived stereotypically in the modern day world. For instance, models of different ethnicities are always stereotypically perceived as being “exotic”, in one episode, one biracial contestant was even praised for being an “exotic, biracial butterfly”. Often times, judges expect African American and Latina contestants on the show to be great dancers and easily excuse the white contestants if they are not.
Furthermore, in one episode Tyra Banks criticized one of the African American contestants, Danielle’s, thick southern accent as being “too ghetto” and “too country”. She actually told Danielle that judges “didn’t trust her when she opened her mouth” and made her change her accent to a standard American accent. By doing this, Tyra tried to reverse the stereotype by changing the way African American accents are perceived. However, by making Danielle adopt a standard American English accent, caused her to be trapped in the image of a “stereotypical other” (272).
Furthermore, even though African Americans are perceived as being “exotic” on the show, this positive imagery is juxtaposed by negative images such as when black contestants are shown fighting and getting into cat fights with one another. In one episode Tyra even yells, “I don’t want another black bitch on the show”.
Here is a clip of Tyra getting very angry at an African American contestant for being disrespectful on the show (more negative images):