BR WEEKLY: A Chat with Chrissy Teigen and José Vasconcelos
Image: Model Chrissy Teigen and singer-songwriter John Legend with their daughter Luna. Courtesy of Instagram
A Chat with Chrissy Teigen and José Vasconcelos
Danielle D’Oliveira, MarChé Daughtry, Darío Herrera
Introductory Song: “She’s BiRacial” (Sean Fury)
MD: Hi everyone, and welcome to this week’s episode of BR Weekly. This time we are going to be talking about the “perfect aesthetic.” To talk about this topic, we’re going to start with talking about IVF, also known as in vitro fertilization. Just so that y’all know what that is that I’m talking about, it’s an assisted reproductive technology in which eggs are taken and sperm used to fertilize it and its done outside of the uterus, in a laboratory setting. Then, once the eggs are fertilized, they are put back into the uterus. So, today to talk about IVF as well as getting your “cosmic child” we have [Danielle D’Oliveira as] Chrissy Teigen.
CT: Hi Y’all.
MD: Chrissy Teigen is a model, a host, and an author. She is most known for her sassy Twitter comebacks.
CT: Me, the queen of Twitter. Oh, you shd’ve said.
MD: Also here, we have José Vasconcelos.
JV: Oh, it’s me, [Darío Herrera as] José Vasconcelos. I obviously don’t know what Twitter is but I’m just gonna go with the flow.
MD: So, he was the Minister of Education in Mexico.
JV: Oh, okay.
MD: Although, he is most known for his 1925 essay entitled “La raza cósmica” or “The Cosmic Race.”
So, Chrissy, I want to start with you because you did do IVF.
CT: I did.
MD, I was told that, I heard, a little birdie told me that you actually chose the gender of your first child. (Vogue, Nast)
CT, Well, I chose but, I didn’t choose. You see, after IVF, well, first, you have to go PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis) to see if the embryo is viable. So, because of the PGD, we were able to do IVF. Does that make sense? (Nast, 2017; Dondorp, 295)
Ct: No. So, PGD lets you see all the chromosomes, see if the baby will be healthy. And, in seeing the chromosomes, you end up finding out if its a boy or girl. And, you’re not going to use all the embryos, you’re only going to use some. (Dondorp et al, 295-296)
MD: And, so when you were able to see what the chromosomes were saying the gender would be, you were able to sort of decide which ones you were gonna use?
CT: Yes. (Nast, 2017; Dondorp, 295)
MD: Mmhmm. And, I find it interesting because, so you are half-Thai and half-Norwegian? (Pham, 2018)
MD: And your husband is Black? And so your daughter, you are biracial, and your daughter and your son are multiracial?
MD: So, Vasconcelos, in your essay you sort of talk about this idea about a new race, Mestizaje. What do you think about this? (Vasconcelos, 404)
JV: I love you, Chrissy Teigen. I really love what you’re doing with your kids. Like, I just really appreciate that you drew inspiration from “La raza cósmica” and wanted to make…
JV: Yeah, because in my essay “La raza cósmica,” I talked about creating a fifth race. A fifth synthetic race out of the four trunks: Black Asian, Indian, as in Native American, and the White. And, I see you check three of those boxes to create your cosmic baby. (Vasconcelos 405)
CT: Hold up.
JV: Could you tell me the name of your baby, please? What is the name of your baby?
CT: Luna.(Nast, 2017)
JV: Luna. As in a cosmic thing.
JV: A cosmic entity.
CT: So, my beautiful baby girl, not a thing.
JV: Yes, baby girl.
CT: Beautiful baby girl came out of love from me and John. You can see our dating profile. You can go on Wikipedia and see it.
MD: Your dating profile?
CT: My dating profile. You know, our whole marriage and story. Tried going after John, he apparently didn’t want it at first. Then, he got his senses back. Four years later, he went, put a ring on it. We got married and two years later, we had the kid. But, after many years of trying, we decided to do IVF. The gender of the baby came as a possibility. (McCluskey, 2018)
JV: But you still took that possibility?
MD: So, would there be any, sort of, case of you taking other possibilities in the future?
CT: Well, we just had, the rest of our embryos were boys. So, we had our baby boy. What type of possibilities are you asking?
MD: Well, in terms of what other sorts of chromosomes can you see when you do PGD? Is it just chromosomes involving health or are there ways that you can, sort of, decide what the baby might look like? Like what features the baby might have?
CT: Well, right now, in Europe, they restricted it just to health as has the US. So, right now, I’m not choosing any features. And, me and John are both good-looking, so we’d be making a beautiful child anyways. If that’s what your asking. (Dondorp, 295)
JV: I approve. I approve of your baby.
CT: Oh my goodness.
JV: I just really, I know you have some fears for your baby. Being a mixed-race baby, you know? Like, you don’t know what Luna’s gonna be able to identify with. And, I know that you have some, you identify with one side of your family, right? Which side do you identify more with?
CT: Well, I identify more with my Thai background. Maybe, just ’cause my mother was a strong personality. (Pham, 2018)
CT: And, I can see my children being mixed-race having some problems. Especially, now, under this new, this current administration, I can see my children studying this type of administration and laughing and making fun of it. Hopefully, that’s our, that we move forward, right? Um, but, hopefully, moving forward my children will just, like, be multi-racial and I think that’s kinda where we’re going. Like, the big melting pot, sort of. (Pham, 2018; Teigen, 2019)
JV: I love that. I really love that. I just love that. You know, I really think that, we as a society, can come together with the only thing… You know, I know you’re afraid of, like, this current and what people think about your baby, your multi-racial baby. But, I just think if we come together, you know? As I said, the only thing lacking is true love in order to organize a better society for this fifth race. A fifth race of mestizaje. Where we come and we bring what is good of all the four cultures. And make a fifth one. You know, one that will help us establish a new, a new being. You know, a new set of civilization where we all bring the best of what we have to offer. (Vasconcelos, 409, 410)
MD: I did want to sort of think about Vasconcelos, because you’re
MD: I mean. That’s what you said, not me. Enamored by Chrissy and John’s child because of Luna’s sort of multiracialness. Is that a word? I don’t know. And so I’m just sort of curious as to sort of …
JV: Well, Luna, our cosmic, I mean not my cosmic, but the cosmic baby has the ability. You know she is kind of the poster child for what I’ve been trying to say for close to one hundred years now. This fusion and mixing of people really could create a new society, a new civilization, a new one where we don’t have to live a life with certain hierarchies, ya know. If there is this white hierarchy, this white supremacy, that you’re afraid of, doesn’t necessarily have to exist, if there is no white. If there is no definite white to begin with, ya know. The characteristics of the white race will perhaps predominate among those of the fifth race, ya know, the new la raza cósmica but supremacy does not have to come from free choice and taste. Or actually, sorry, she has to come from free choice and taste. So if we have the same tase, if we are all the same mixed, racially ambiguous, there won’t be a race, there won’t be a White, there won’t be a Black, there won’t be an Asian to compare ourselves with. Do you get me? (Vasconcelos, 410)
CT: So, do you want mixed race to appear and all the four other races to disappear?
JV: Well, it’s not an act of disappearance. But an act of fusion, ya know. We’re all going to have. We’re all going to bring what we have to the table to create a fifth race.
CT: So, my black husband, would he be in your future?
JV: Yes. Parts of him.
CT: Parts of him. What parts of him?
MD: The parts that are in Luna!
JV: Yes, the parts that are in Luna.
CT: I want all of him. Have you not heard his song?
JV: Yes. The one song that he knows. It’s just like that I think that there’s an opportunity to rid ourselves of these societal evils if we create a society in which these societal differences don’t exist in the first place. So if there is no definitive race. If there is no separation of races. There can’t be an opportunity for racism or distinction between people.
MD: So I do have a question for you, Vasconcelos. Who do you imagine will get left out of? And Chrissy, feel free to chime in, because you seem to have thoughts on Vasconcelos, I can imagine. So who do you think is being left out of this la raza cósmica? So who do you imagine to be left out?
JV: I think the great thing about la raza cósmica, I think the great thing about la raza cósmica is the fact that everybody is involved. You know everybody, can bring what they have. There is not going to be a separation.
CT: What about the Indian? Do you think he is in the past? Do you think he will be there in the future? Will black people be there in the future? Will the Asian be there in the future?
JV: I think what is beneficial to the this fifth race will be in the future. The white people, mainly the British and the Spanish, and the period of colonization, they did it of, they mixed with the people because they did it out of love. They wanted us to be better. They wanted their whiteness to be transcend through us. THe fusion and the mixing of all these people, yes, has erased the Native American and the Indian because they have no other door to the future but through us, we help them get to it. (Vasconcelos, 407, 409)
CT: Who’s the us?
MD: I feel like – yes, who’s the us? But I also feel as though you are missing the violence that comes with colonization, the violent erasure of the Native people, right. By saying that though white spanish settlers to transcend their whiteness, that sounds though as an argument of colonization, how do you account for these histories, ugh you say you want this fifth race, but how do you account for these histories that in which have acted as oppressive into one another?
JV: That’s an interesting question. I really. I feel that, yes, a lot of these fusions and mixing are a result of rape, of colonization, of other acts of aggression. But now we have the freedom to love. We have the free will to love. As they say time heals. We can move past that. We have the ability to look past that and create something better for ourselves in this fifth race, ya know. The road for the fifth race has already been cleared by Mexican culture, my mexican culture, Mexican and Latin civilization, the old, the Greeks, and the Spanish…We’ve cleared the road for the creation of Universopolis, which is my…what I believe will be the future… (Vasconcelos 404,409)
CT: Alright, Vasconwho! Let it be known that my beautiful baby girl..
JV: Is the..
CT: Is not part of your cosmic raza
JV: Is the cosmic baby, thank you
CT: Correlation is not causation, do not put my baby’s name in your mouth
JV: Even if you didn’t inadvertently mean to create Luna the way she is today…I thank you
MD: And on that note…
MD: So we’ve been talking a lot about baby Luna and Jose Vasconcelos’s soft of love…for Luna but I would say that Chrissy you sort of are also a cosmic baby, in like yourself
CT: That you mean I’m awesome, stellar…
MD: That, too
CT: …out of this world, correct
MD: But also that you yourself are biracial
CT: I am biracial…my dad is Norwegian, my mom is Thai and yea that’s why I have been embracing my like Thai food cuisine in my books cause I just wanna show the world about it..
MD: Hmmm, so could you tell us a little bit about how it was like to grow up biracial?
CT: Yea, I remember feeling confused when I grew up, filling out the forms on those standardized tests, I was like am I Pacific Islander, and there was “other” but I always said Asian for some wild reason, even though it is a perfect 50/50
Still I remember the biggest question growing up was: What are you? What are you? What are you? And everyone was like “OMG!”, but I was always a little embarrassed bringing my friends over, like as I said earlier, just like my food smelled differently and they didn’t know how to react, and I was just embarrassed, and then my mom she’s just so strong, so vibrant, and so like lovingly it kinda helped me to become who I am today, like now there is nothing to be embarrassed about but to be overjoyed. (Pham, 2018)
MD: Vasconcelos do you have anything to say about this?
JV: Do you think embarrassment, or like this reluctance to like bring your food to school or show your culture off is it because the other kids didn’t know or they weren’t exposed to this? I guess what were you ashamed of? That would be my question.
CT: I think ashamed is a strong word, Vasconwho! I was embarrassed just because they didn’t know what I was eating, and you know when you’re a kid, they pick on those who are different and I just wanted to be friends with them when I was a kid
JV: Do you think Luna will have the same problems?
CT: I’m hoping that…so me and John have many friends from different cultures, so like she has grown up with many cultural friends. They are not all mixed babies!
JV: Do you think, so you over time the face of society has changed right? It is not like a singular one, like there isn’t a 100% white, or 100% this, there is a lot of mixing over the time, and I feel like you would be a testament to this, and your baby of course is a testament to this…How do you feel that you, I don’t know if it is out of love, out of wanting a baby, but you have contributed to this?
CT: Contributed? I just thought John was fine as hell, walked up to him, did the music video with him, and went out on a date. It just feels weird that this is your one goal, to make a multi-racial race, uhh I think there is many things to appreciate from many races.. I.e. you can really like uhh Korean-Mexican cuisine, I’m trying to add those into my new website…
JV: So I feel like you, you out of all people really appreciate other people’s cultures?
CT: I think that…
JV: And wouldn’t you see a value of a mixing of these cultures?
CT: It just feels like you are a camera that is just following me around and I just need some space, anyways I think I have lip sync battle today so I’m going to dip out
MD: Well, that concludes this week’s episode of BR Weekly, and yes you still have to guess what BR means… alright see you next week!
Dondorp, Wybo, and De Wert, Guido. “Refining the Ethics of Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis: A Plea for Contextualized Proportionality.” Bioethics 33.2 (2019): 294-301. Web.
McCluskey, Megan. “Chrissy Teigen and John Legend’s Relationship: A Timeline.” Time, Time, 17 May 2018, time.com/5233865/chrissy-teigen-john-legend-relationship-timeline/.
Nast, Condé. “Chrissy Teigen and John Legend Already Know the Gender of Their Second Baby-and Here’s How.” Vogue, Vogue, 21 Nov. 2017, www.vogue.com/article/chrissy-teigen-ivf-gender-selection-controversy-explained.
Pham, Jason. “What Life Is Really like for Luna in the Teigen-Legend Home.” SheKnows, 10 July 2018, www.sheknows.com/entertainment/articles/1138993/chrissy-teigen-luna-racial-diversity/.
Teigen, Christine. “Our Grandchildren Will Study and Mock This.” Twitter, Twitter, 27 Feb. 2019, twitter.com/chrissyteigen/status/1100642657229918208.
Vasconcelos, Jose. The Cosmic Race (trans. Didier T. Jaen, pp. 7-40) . Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1997. Print.