"Multiracial Women Only"
By Jaylin Paschal
Kanye West basically tweeted a "Mulattos Wanted" flyer the other day.
In his search for models for Yeezy Season 4, West's casting call asked for "multiracial women only" as the very first requirement.
It is important to note that this is unusual for Kanye and the Yeezy brand. For the last few seasons, Yeezy shows have been the most diverse collection of models in the industry. So why, why Yeezus, did this go so wrong?
The first issue with the casting call is that it works to further perpetuate the fetishization of multiracial or mixed women (usually black and caucasian). In almost every form of media you can imagine--music, movies, social networks--multiracial girls are objectified as "goals," "wifey material," and "Team Lightskin" hashtags. They're loved and envied for their, if we're playing into the stereotype that Ye is, fair skin or curly hair or light eyes. But of course, that's only a stereotype. Not all multiracial women look like this. In fact, most don't. Which is what makes this casting call even stranger.
Casting calls are visual, not genealogical. The only way the Yeezy team could know if an auditioning model was multiracial is if they asked for an extensive family background. Which I doubt they did. They were, most likely, checking the "multiracial" box based on appearance, which is misleading and furthers the misconception that there is a multiracial "look." There are multiracial women who look as black as me or as white as Taylor Swift. You can't identify "multiracial" strictly off of image. And Ye knows this.
So why use "multiracial" when what you mean is "lightskin?" A failed attempt at political correctness? A confused perception of what "multiracial" actually means? Where were his publicists or managers or anyone to edit that post? Who knows?
We also have to address the irony of saying "come as you are" after making such an extensive requirement. "Be yourself," as long as you're multiracial. "Come as you are," but not if you ain't lightskin. It's a weird way to sugarcoat a message which left such a bitter taste on so many fans' tongues.
And finally, it's important to discuss how potentially detrimental a "Multiracial Women Only" post is from someone as influential as Kanye West. If this message is repeated too often, at a much larger scale, it could ultimately have the same effect on darker complexioned women as a "White Only" sign, where anyone who doesn't meet the requirement develops a sense of inferiority. [See Mamie Clark's experiment regarding the psychological effects of segregation on children, which was used in Brown v. Board of Education to end "separate but equal" school policies.] And some may say, understandably, that this comparison is a reach. But either way, my little cousin told me she wished she was mixed because "they're prettier." And either way my classmate told me she wanted "a pretty baby. You know? A cute little mixed baby." And I'm not suggesting that this is simply because of a Yeezy Season 4 casting call tweeted out one day. But I'm not saying that it isn't. Take it how you will.
I'm interested to see the show, and see if the exclusivity in any way correlates with the brand's concept this season, and whether or not that provides context to such an unusual and unexpected move from Kanye and the artists at Yeezy.