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A CEO who has twice been named one of TIME's Most Influential People, and who created America's Next Top Model, Tyra remembers crying when she was asked about being the first African-American on the cover of the Swimsuit Issue: "Some people might say, It's swimsuits. But I think every facet in trying to break down barriers—whether it's race, whether it's sexual orientation—everything counts. So to me, being on the cover meant, Wow, model is model, beauty is beauty, girl is girl. And I was like, young girls everywhere are gonna look at that and say, 'Wow, Tyra kinda looks like me, and they put me on that cover. Maybe that means that I'm beautiful.' "
'79, '80, '81
A strong anti-ivory advocate (among many other causes), Christie is, like the Swimsuit Issue, also celebrating a big birthday. "They're turning 50, I'm turning 60," she says with a laugh. "So, yeah, I'm pleased to still be here."
The first Swimsuit cover model, Babette now lives in a tiny town in Oregon, "real Wild West," she says. As for the franchise she helped launch? "I have friends who send me the issue, and all I can say is, It's come a long way, baby."