It only took 23 cycles but Tyra Banks has *finally* done away with the America’s Next Top Model upper age limit—you used to have to be 27 and under to audition—and to that, I say IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME. The newly reappointed ANTM host and head judge made the announcement via Instagram video on April 1, saying: “You want to audition for America’s Next Top Model? I don’t care how old you are, honey. You just need to know how to smize and be open to learning how to work the runway like a supermodel.”
YASSSSSS, Tyra! But also—how the eff did it take this long? For a show that’s smashed nearly every other barrier, welcoming all ethnicities, sizes and gender identities, it’s surprising to think they still had this arbitrary age limit in place. Who’s to say someone of 28 (or, hell, 38) can’t smize or booty tooch just as well as a 27-year-old?
I, for one, have never done things within the “normal” prescribed age limits—and my life is all the better for it. Take the job I applied for after my first year back at school. I was 32 (and proud!), pursuing my post-graduate journalism degree, and in the running for a junior editor summer position at a trade magazine. I nailed the interview and waited to hear back. Whilst obsessing over my inbox, I reread the job posting and this time something caught my eye—the position was subsidized by a government program for young full-time students. The catch? The student had to be under 30. No explanation given, just an arbitrary upper age limit. I got offered the job but had to turn it down because at just two years past the limit, I was essentially elderly. I didn’t feel super old but I was suddenly acutely aware of my other-ness in the post-graduate world.
But, I swallowed my disappointment and kept looking for a summer gig, refusing to let bullsh-t age limits hold me back and less than two weeks later, I got the summer internship at FLARE that ultimately led me to the full-time writing gig I have now. If I’d let myself be held back by fear or shame of being different, I never would have seized the opportunity that started me on this career path. I might have been hella old compared to the rest of the summer interns, but I was also experienced, confident and—finally!—one hundo p sure of what I wanted to do and approximately zero percent concerned with what other people thought. And that DGAF feeling is something that only came with life experience. Instead of letting my, ahem, advanced age be a barrier, I made it my bitch. In this situation, my age was both the thing I had to overcome and the reason I was able to do so.
In the eternally wise words of Aaliyah (and now Ty-Ty), age ain’t nothing but a number. And I’m living, breathing—smizing—proof of that.