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Kanye West will host Yeezy Season 5 in New York City on Wednesday. Invites — long-sleeved T-shirts printed with the words “Lost Hills” — were sent out the night before, and a graphic teasing a collaboration between West and Drake is making the rounds on the Fuccternet. Now, Business of Fashion is reporting that Halima Aden, a hijab-wearing Somali-American who was born in a Kenyan refugee camp and was just signed by IMG, will make her Fashion Week debut in the show.
While West is known for his diverse casting, it’s impossible to ignore the political statement made by casting Aden after months of vocal support for a president who’s tried to pass a Muslim ban and keep refugees out of the United States.
In November, West said that while he didn’t vote in the presidential election, he would have gone for Trump if he had. In December, he met with the then-President-elect at Trump Tower; they were real chummy.
After Kim Kardashian, his wife, started to speak out against the current administration, however, West did start to walk things back — on Trump’s favorite medium, at least: Twitter. He recently scrubbed his social media of the tweets he sent out after his meeting with Trump.
Is it possible Kanye is trying to repent for his past behavior by using his (massive) platform to shine a light on a model who has such a clear message? While competing in Minnesota’s Miss USA pageant, Aden wore her hijab throughout and a burkini during the swimsuit competition. “I wanted to spread a positive message about beauty and diversity, and to show other young Muslim women that there is room for them,” she explains to Business of Fashion.
While this is a positive gesture, it’s just that — a gesture. It’s certainly a step in a better direction than the one in which he was heading, but is it the only thing? If so, it feels almost exploitative. As a diehard Kanye fan, I’m holding out hope that he’ll do more, like send models down the runway in “F—- Trump” tees or make a political statement in his song with Drake (who is already on the right side of this one). Really, anything that’ll allow me to listen to his music or consider buying Yeezys again without thinking about what’s happening in the White House.