Last month, rapper Kanye West posted a controversial casting call for his clothing line, Yeezy, mandating “multiracial women only.” Many objected, arguing that West had insulted darker-skinned black women.
But Kanye was only adhering to something fairly common in a society that still operates under a racial hierarchy: the belief that multiracial people are more attractive, what sociologist Jennifer Sims has termed the “biracial beauty stereotype.”
Attractiveness may seem like a trite and shallow topic for an academic to study or even care about. But as a sociologist who specializes in inequality, I believe there’s a great deal to unpack, particularly when exploring how attractiveness might lead to biases in the same way race and gender do.
It’s not just important to point out who we find attractive; just as important is why we find them attractive. I’ve been especially interested in how racial self-identification influences these perceptions, exploring this topic in a recent study.