Amidst the gleefully brutal social media pile-on, the dominant narrative was that Banks, like the modeling industry she represented, was deeply—even dangerously—flawed. Her blind spots seemed even more glaring with two decades of hindsight.
With the sexual harassment in particular, the production team missed an opportunity to fire a shot across the bow at one of modeling’s most insidious realities. According to a 2017 survey by advocacy group Model Alliance, 29.7 percent of models have experienced inappropriate touching on the job, and 28 percent have been pressured to have sex with someone at work. Fans began to point out that Banks repeatedly acted as an industry apologist. When season one contestant Robbyne Manning complains about inappropriate attention from a male athlete on-set, Banks replies, “Was he talking about your booty or something? It doesn’t mean you have to go to bed with him later. Doesn’t mean you have to give him your number. If somebody says, ‘Damn!’ it just means that you’re doing great.”
In May of 2020, Banks’s reaction to the uproar was uncharacteristically subdued. “Been seeing the posts about the insensitivity of some past ‘ANTM’ moments and I agree with you," she tweeted. "Looking back, those were some really off choices.”