Why I consider Beyonce A Feminist
I consider Beyonce a feminist for many reasons but the one I want to talk about right now is in regards to her model casting.
This is a still from her Yonce video. Besides Beyonce, of course, we see Chanel Iman, Jourdan Dunn and Joan Smalls. These models are the most prominent Black high fashion models of the last ten years. The industry has told these women over and over that they are in competition with one another; that if one is cast in a show that the others are not needed; that only one of them can be The Black High Fashion model at any given time.
Beyonce is calling bullshit on that attitude. She put all three of them in her video because the “competition” between them is created by a racist industry that believes in the idea that there can only be one outstanding Black model at a time, a tokenism that aims to set these women against each other.
But this image, and the video they are all in, is an attack on that attitude. It declares that there is no reason all these women can’t be successful. This video brings a group of young women together who have been set in competition against each other. Beyonce is a powerful woman, possibly the most influential entertainer in American/Western pop culture, she is using that power to deconstruct a notion that women, in general, and Black women, in the culture of fashion, must be in competition with each other.
Beyonce seems to be saying that there is should be no competition between these women, real or perceived, but solidarity. I am not saying that the message is that they all have to be BFFs but that the industry created “tension” between them is based on ideas of white privilege and racism. After years of fashion people trying to tear them apart, Beyonce has brought them together, at least for one job. They are only in competition for jobs because a racist power structure has decided they should be. Beyonce directly challenges that notion by casting the three of them.
Beyonce’s casting embraces a vision of Blackness that includes multiracial models (Chanel Iman, who is Asian-African-American just as Kyla Ross is), Latina (Joan Smalls) and Jamaican-British (Jourdan Dunn).
Beyonce is a feminist. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you differently.