Kanye West & Bianca Censori: Is There a Boundary Between Styling and Control?

Kanye West & Bianca Censori: Is There a Boundary Between Styling and Control?

Following a series of controversies over outfits deemed offensive, vulgar, and demeaning to women by rapper Kanye West and his wife Bianca Censori (sources also suggest that Ye has established a set of rules including how his wife dresses), the question arises: is there a boundary between styling and control?

Kanye West & Bianca Censori: Is There a Boundary Between Styling and Control?
Kanye West & Bianca Censori: Is There a Boundary Between Styling and Control?

*This article discusses domestic abuse.

Kanye West has responded to the fierce media reaction to his wife’s clothing, Bianca Censori, a concern expressed by many fans over the past few months.

In a video posted on his Instagram account, Ye said: “I will post my wife as much as I want. That makes me happy. Some people don’t want you to be happy, what they want is for you to make them happy. I choose to make myself happy and I am happy with that.”

Most recently (13/2), the rapper posted a video of Bianca wearing a small piece of fabric without underwear, likened by one commenter to a “Dorito”. The couple was photographed in Los Angeles, with Ye wearing a face-covering mask and an oversized plastic poncho, while Bianca wore a transparent raincoat – and nothing else.

“She needs to be rescued,” a social media user tweeted in response to the photo of Ye and Bianca together.

The image of a fully clothed man accompanying a naked woman is extremely bizarre. Some X users responded: “Someone needs to rescue this missing woman!”, “It’s all about (Ye) trying to control her.”

The two are said to have married in January 2023, about two months after Ye’s divorce from Kim Kardashian was finalized (the two shared 4 children). In recent months, Bianca has been photographed in a series of provocative outfits, from skin-colored tight dresses (further shielded by a pillow) to walking barefoot on the street.

These outfits have been described as indecent, demeaning, and lowering of dignity. Concern for Bianca is based on the assumption that Kanye is the one styling her. Neither Ye nor Bianca has publicly confirmed or denied this.

However, some fans argue that there is a precedent for Ye having input into his partner’s clothing (specifically Kim Kardashian). In an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians in 2018, Kardashian said: “I always thought I had really good style – until I met my husband (Ye) and he told me I had the worst style.” Fast forward four years to an episode of The Kardashians in 2022, where Kim revealed that Ye had said she looked like a “cartoon character” after she dressed herself without his fashion advice. She told her sister Kourtney Kardashian that Ye called her after she attended the Wall Street Journal Magazine Innovator Awards in October 2021. “He told me my career was over. And then he showed me a photo of Marge Simpson wearing something similar,” she explained.

Although we cannot know the nature of the arrangement, clothing design between Ye and Bianca, what’s important to note is that dictating what the other person wears may be a red flag for coercive control – a form of domestic abuse.

Women’s Aid, an organization providing domestic abuse services in the UK, shares: “From the lipstick you put on, to the clothes you wear, what you think, say and do, living with a controlling partner means your decisions aren’t always your own.”

Melanie Brown (also known as Mel B) spoke about her experience with coercive control. In a 2021 interview with The Guardian, she explained how the abuse changed her dressing. It started with small things like “Oh, don’t wear that dress – I bought you this one,” “Look what I’ve bought you! I saw you looking at it on Net-a-Porter.” And she thought, “Oh my God, how sweet!” when in reality they were starting to take over everything.

Mel also added that her ex-partner insisted she wear certain colors. “I didn’t even know what colors I liked anymore because those choices had been taken away from me for so long. And I just accepted it.”

Emma-Louise Boynton (creator of the Sex Talks podcast) explains: “We dress to express ourselves and show the world who we are on that day (and it changes daily, doesn’t it?). So why would a man want or need to influence the self-expression of their partner today, tomorrow, any day?”

Additionally, the pandemic has made coercive control an even more significant issue. For example, 66.7% of women surveyed about domestic abuse survivors for Women’s Aid said their abuser had used Covid-19 and its restrictions as a tool for abuse. And because we can’t escape this pandemic 100%, work needs to be done to ensure safety for everyone.

“Women may take a long time to leave an abusive husband, especially when they feel they still love them and hope their husband will change, or are too scared to leave. That’s why raising awareness is so important, because the sooner you realize that your experience “is seen” as abuse, the sooner you can reach out for support.”

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