Over the weekend, Kanye West tweeted out a NYC casting call for “multiracial women only” to model his forthcoming Yeezy Season 4 collection. The request immediately drew protests both online and IRL, however, thanks to its wording.
And while white people crying “reverse racism” were definitely a component of the backlash, the more relevant dialogue came from POC who called out the inherent colorism, or the implication that dark skin does not meet “traditional” beauty standards, that pervaded West’s phrasing:
One such person was a woman who appears to go by the name “babyscumbag” on her social media, and who showed up to protest the casting this weekend with “They want black features not black girls” scrawled across her chest. She also held a poster that read, “‘multiracial only’ = lightskin only…you ain’t slick, Ye”, as well as a quote from West’s 2006 Essence interview, in which he says multiracial girls are referred to as “‘mutts’.”
Now, she’s resurfaced online with a detailed post explaining why exactly she did what she did.
“This is an indictment of not just Yeezy but the entire fashion and beauty industry in which there is a racialized hierarchy of beauty which is a ubiquitous symptom of the legacy of colonialism,” she wrote. “Regardless of whether Yeezy does choose to include darkskinned women in the end, the coded language of the casting call was clear and a part of a broader problem of colorism in the fashion industry.” And a systematic problem she mentioned is evident from the chances of girls walking down the runway depending on the deepness of their skin color.
She also wrote that this specification for “multiracial only” implies that “Black can only be beautiful when ‘MIXED’ with another RACE.”
“There is a history of wanting to dilute the Blackness of one’s children because of the longstanding stigmatization of Blackness,” she said, adding later that, “The lighter you are the more beautiful you are considered.”
However, babyscumbag notes that at the same time, non-Black women have begun to desire Black features “in a brutal and corrupt form of irony.”
“It’s just facts that Black women are constantly told they are too dark, lips too big, hair to ghetto for all professions,” she pointed out. “Only to see these same features or styles on non-Black women receive praise-(braids, gap teeth)-obviously the problem isn’t the style but the color of the women wearing it.”
Which all leads back to why she did it in the first place: as a means of highlighting how pervasive the Eurocentric beauty standards stemming from white supremacy and colonialism still are.
“It’s not just about fashion it’s about understanding how racism, and white supremacy dictates our understanding of reality,” she finished. “T hese are toxic ideologies need to be unlearned and #ITsAPROCESS.”