There are actually three Sports Illustrated swimsuit covers this year, and all three are in the slideshow. I’m delighted that Tyra, indisputably a legend, is one of them. But I also don’t understand why she needs to be one of them. Can’t it JUST be her? Tyra is iconic for a lot of reasons, but even if you’re JUST looking within the Sports Illustrated framework, she was the first black model to have her own swimsuit cover. And beyond that, she is, very atypically for SI, a 45-year old cover subject, and one who by her own admission is now 25 pounds heavier than the iconic cover she also recreated (see below) — which I am only bringing up because she did, laughingly, and with pride. And she should be proud. She looks freaking fantastic. Sports Illustrated was correct to put her here. Why did they need to hedge that bet with two other more traditional covers? You got the legend. Stick with the legend. She is TYRA BANKS, for God’s sake.

OR IS SHE. Because, you guys, Tyra has decided that when she is modeling, she is not to be known anymore as Tyra Banks. She is… wait for it… BanX. Behold:

“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.”

Whaaaaat? But… you’re Tyra Banks. You’re Miss Tyra. TyTy. I am all for her coming out of retirement and being tougher, wiser, stronger, all that stuff. She already has an iconic brand most people would kill for; why does she need another one?

“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.”

That is grade-A Tyra Banks word salad right there. As Jessica pointed out, this is all REALLY making me miss ANTM. Remember when Tyra made them do their own “super-names” and Dionne picked WHOLAHAY??!?! “Make your own mononym and then LIVE INTO IT” is the newfangled phrasing for that and the world badly needs a Wholahay 2.0. But, listen, all I ever want is for Tyra to do… whoever Tyra is right now. BanX, Banks, Tyra, TyTy, whatever — I am here for her.

Also, they recreated the polka-dot bikini cover:

Welcome back, Tyra. Or… nice to meet you, BanX. Whichever.

[Photos: SI]