Earlier this week, we told you that Tyra Banks was trending on Twitter because people dug up old videos from her reality competition series, America’s Next Top Model, in an effort to show how problematic many moments on the show were, though we may not have realized it at the time. One prominent clip was of Danielle Evans, who would be crowned the winner of cycle six of ANTM, being encouraged by Tyra and the judges to take advantage of the opportunity to have her gap, which was initially wide, narrowed in order for her to have success. After initially deciding to not get her teeth changed at the dentist’s office before facing the judges, she goes back and has the gap brought in afterward.
What Tyra and Dani wouldn’t realize was how impactful that scene was to young girls and women watching at the time, back in 2006. One woman who said such a recommendation “f–ked her up” as a kid was model Slick Woods who shared the clip.
“No one should ever talk to you like that @danievans1, that episode f–ked up little simone/slick so that’s how y’all feel @tyrabanks @miss_jalexander???”
After she was reached out to by Slick, Dani decided to post an IG TV video. She realized she had a “responsibility to address what really happened and speak my truth.” However, she made clear there would be no negative commentary on Tyra, just an explanation behind the decision she made nearly 15 years ago to close her gap,
According to the model, now 34, she was encouraged to try out for ANTM by her brother to get out of Little Rock, Arkansas.
“I had one goal in mind, and that one goal was to get out of my hometown. To create a different, better life for myself. That was it,” she said. “I wasn’t concerned about challenges or the things that would be set up in place to deter me and knock me off my game. I was so focused, I wasn’t even hungry, I was starved to get out. So any and everything, the opposition that came my way, I was so deaf to it because I had a goal.”
But the issues judges brought up she couldn’t completely tune out. They commented on the way she spoke. The next issue ended up being her gap.
All of the girls were made to go to the dentist, and though Dani was just looking for a cleaning and whitening, the doctor asked her multiple times if she wanted to close her gap.
“I’m giving you guys the behind the behind the scenes,” she said. “He kept asking me if I wanted to close my gap. Nah, bruh. Super cool, I’m super secure with my gap. Of course, like any other kid, I’d be lying to you if I said I grew up loving my long neck, my jaw bone and my gap. I did not. I hated it all. I used to cry and ask my mother for braces. We couldn’t afford braces. What did my mother say to me? She reminded me that my two grandmothers who I absolutely adored had gaps. They’re queens. ‘You’re just like your grandmothers.'”
She learned to accept her gap — until she had to face the judges. She was asked by Tyra why she hadn’t closed her gap at the dentist’s office. When Danielle told her that she hadn’t been told that she had to get her teeth closed, Tyra “looks off camera right to production, which none of you guys ever see. I look off camera right to production, and [producer] Ken Mock gives me one of these [shrugs]. In that moment, I knew what was happening. I knew that I was basically set up and not being told that Tyra wants me to get my gap closed so that it’s good for TV.”
“In that moment, the 19, 20-year-old Danielle stood there realizing that it was my one way ticket out on this side, or keeping my gap on this side and going back to Little Rock, Arkansas,” she added. “What you think I’m going to choose, fam?”
Dani said she wasn’t upset that they wanted her to close her gap or the snarky comments made about it in the clip. However, what upsets her now is seeing how many people were affected by her choosing to change her teeth because of such pressure.
“The me now in reading the comments and understanding the weight that it created in other girls who saw that, this is why this post is being made, because I want to address all of those young girls,” she said. “I’m going to take this time to build up and speak to all of my young queens that saw that episode that were truly affected by Tyra’s words. You’re beautiful and I’m not talking about a physical feature. It doesn’t matter if you have a gap, stacked teeth, straight teeth. It matters not. It doesn’t matter if you’re Black, brown, white, indifferent, other. It doesn’t matter. What makes you beautiful is in here. It’s a matter of your self-worth. High self-worth or low self-worth. No one can establish that except you.”
“I want to remind you of your worth. You’re a masterpiece. You are so loved. You are so adored and you’re beautiful. And it’s not because someone higher up says that you’re beautiful,” she added. “You don’t become a star because someone acknowledges your light. You are light. You are worth. You are valued. You are loved. Always stand in your truth and your power. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you’re not. If you have a goal, go for it. Bulldozer any and everybody out the way that’s standing in opposition of you.”
You can check out Dani’s commentary on the viral clip below:
Since winning cycle six in 2006, Danielle Evans became Dani Evans and signed a contract. She has been in ELLE Magazine, Essence, Sephora campaigns and Tory Burch ads. She’s also walked for Baby Phat, Y-3, Mara Hoffman, Zang Toi and many other designers, and appeared in multiple ads for CoverGirl and Target. She currently has a hat line called Monrowe and is represented by Elite Model Management.