Some call it a theme park, some an “experience,” and most people don’t call it anything at all. Modelland is an “attraction” in Santa Monica, California, that Tyra Banks has been talking about opening for over a year now. Though in that year, she’s offered little clarity on... what it is she is actually talking about.
The latest case in point occurred during her appearance on Monday’s episode of The View, during which she said that with Modelland, “I’m bringing modeling to the masses.” She described it as “a story-driven attraction where you can come and celebrate your own beauty.” She said the impetus for the attraction was being told “no” too often. I guess no one said no this time, though.
She also compared it to Wakanda:
“How many people have seen Black Panther? Okay, so you guys know Wakanda? Alternate universe? So Modelland is story-driven. There is an alternate universe. And in that universe sits this place called Modelland. And Modelland crafts the world’s supermodels and it’s a negative place. You have to look really tall, skinny. Everybody looks the damn same, but there are eight young students, guys and girls that get to go to this school and they don’t know why, they’re the outcasts, they’re like the misfits, but over the course of time, they change the face of beauty worldwide. Shapes, age, skin tones, height, thickness, thinness. They accept everybody and they open up a portal to Los Angeles, California, for everybody to come and show their beauty and their booty matters.”
It sounds vaguely based on her 2011 YA novel of the same name (though, per Wikipedia, that featured four principle misfits). Banks said the attraction would feature modeling tips from her, as well as customized lighting.
On The Talk a few weeks ago, Banks refuted the notion that Modelland is an “experience” (“Experiences pop up, honey, I’m saying they’ll pop down. Modelland’s gonna stay.”). She called it “Harry Potter meets the modeling industry” and also “Disney meets fashion, beauty, and self-esteem.”
She’s also been doing a thing where she’s trying to make this seem like launching this enterprise is a political act (I guess within a story-driven alternate universe). On The Talk, she said, “When you come to Modelland, you become part of the uprising, which is a crew of people who are banding together to take back beauty.” From whom, though? The beautiful? The supermodels? Tyra Banks herself?
Banks, one of the most successful models of all time (I mean, if you were ever in a George Michael video, you’re part of the standard-setting), has also framed herself as an underdog during the marketing of this thing. There was this attempt at a viral rant she released last month:
While I agree that everyone deserves love and the desire that tends to come with it, “taking back” beauty seems like an empty gesture for its sheer impossibility. Beauty standards have long been too strict, too punishing, too aligned with white supremacy and patriarchy, but it strikes me that more useful work could be put into convincing people that there is more to a person’s worth than what they look like. I think this is less a matter of aesthetics and more one of values. I don’t know how helpful pretending like everyone is entitled to be a supermodel actually is? And what happens after they’ve spent their day at Modelland and they have to go back to their lives, where they aren’t employed to walk runways and pose for cameras? The only thing for certain is that Banks’s pocket has gotten slightly fatter as a result.
Most curious is when this is all supposed to be happening. Banks keeps saying tickets will be on sale “soon.” After her interview on The Talk, Carrie Ann Inaba said that Modelland would open “later this winter.” Winter is over in about six weeks. The clock is ticking.