Kanye West's Yeezy Season 3 Show Sent Mixed Messages Of Beauty To Women

by Niki McGloster
Getty Images

I was genuinely surprised by the vast array of black female models at Kanye West's Yeezy Season 3 fashion show.

The female models in his presentation -- adorned in black fur coats and unitards -- stood at a standstill for the length of Kanye's "The Life of Pablo" album, embodying a beautiful range of colors from palest white to darkest black.

The range of the models' complexions was astonishing for the white-washed fashion industry, but even more so given the way the Chicago-raised rapper typically uses the classic hip-hop trope of championing white women as a symbol of success and the ultimate standard of beauty.

Though Kanye's grown when it comes to skin tone, he has a long way to go with body type. Kanye still uses white, waif-like models to promote things like "Season," a photo-based "zine" that serves as a complement to his collection, and his own fashion shows.

His approach to race in fashion is disruptive, but the lack of body diversity is the same old story.

Let me start by saying Kanye's fashion-meets-music spectacle reaffirmed that he has enormous influence. It's evident in the way nine-to-five commuters stream his show and even follow as he tweets his adoration for wife Kim Kardashian.

Kanye is entertaining to watch, to say the least, and well-known for his unique perspective. He understands how to change the conversation and influence the kids, bro.

The rapper-cum-designer may publicly claim he's fighting for Kim-like figures "to be considered the highest of class," but last night he used a bunch of skinny models in his presentation. Kanye should have taken the opportunity to send a different message to over 20 million people glued to the show's live stream.

It's confusing, considering Kanye's wife is one of the curviest women prevalent in pop culture. The voluptuous shape he seems to appreciate so much in real life wasn't reflected on Madison Square Garden's Jumbotron.

What's the real message here? Why not have a few Nicki Minaj-bootied girls wear your line?

Kanye isn't the only person peddling the idea that beauty looks solely like Gigi Hadid or Kate Moss, especially in a fashion industry riddled with body image issues.

Shapelier figures appear on the runway occasionally, but, as a whole, women who aren't a size 2 are still shut out. Especially women of color.

Kanye can help define what this generation calls "beautiful." Young women, bowing to his creative genius and worshipping at the church of Kardashian, will internalize his standards. Even North West, his impressionable two-year-old daughter, is paying attention to her daddy's moves.

Where artists like Beyoncé are clear about their message of beauty, Kanye flip-flops. His message is like that of the new, curvy Barbie: It's OK to be buxom, as long as you have tall stature and a flat stomach.

It's a regressive school of thought for such an innovative artist. Kanye's own wife probably gets specially fitted for her Yeezy brand clothing, because she can't easily fit into a sample size.

Kanye's certainly no stranger to shaking sh*t up, and should start using his influence to make revolutionary, body-positive statements. The kids are listening.