I’ve been a Rihanna stan for years. In fact, whenever there’s news about the singer, my POPSUGAR colleagues ping me, because they know how much I love her. I felt like I was on cloud nine when I got to see her Savage x Fenty show live, which is what makes this next sentence even harder to say. I’m incredibly disappointed in Rihanna for her cultural and religious appropriation. In a recent Instagram post, she wears a necklace of Hindu god Ganesh while posing topless in a pair of silk lilac boxers. While the singer is clearly promoting her new Savage x Fenty line, which just got $115 million in funding, I’m baffled by what made her think it’s OK to appropriate another culture.
Rihanna was wearing a necklace of a god, which is incredibly sacred to Hindus. For those who don’t know, Ganesh is a Hindu god who is believed to be the Lord of Beginnings and the Remover of Obstacles. I understand that many outside of the religion may not immediately understand what the big deal is, but once you learn the meaning, it’s easy to see that celebrities truly need to stop using other religious symbols as their aesthetic, because it’s getting old.
Celebrities truly need to stop using other religious symbols as their aesthetic, because it’s getting old.
In the past, Rihanna has stepped up and taken responsibility for her wrongdoings. Case in point? Rihanna faced backlash for religious appropriation for the inclusion of London producer Coucou Chloe’s controversial track “Doom” in her Savage X Fenty Vol. 2 show last October. The track included the Hadith – which is a record of the Prophet Muhammad’s words in the Islamic faith – during one of the lingerie performances. After many members of the Muslim community pointed out the sacred nature of the text and voiced their disappointment over its use in the show, Rihanna posted an apology for her mistake on her IGS, saying: “I do not play with any kind of disrespect toward God or any religion and therefore the use of the song in our project was completely irresponsible.” So why hasn’t she apologized yet for her latest show of disrespect? I find it a little hard to believe that Rih hasn’t seen the countless tweets and articles that have been sent her way since posting the picture. Even if she hadn’t known the backstory behind her necklace, why not just apologize?
Recently, the singer got in hot water in India because she spoke about the farmers’ protest. Rihanna shared an article posted by CNN, which outlined the recent internet cuts that took place in New Delhi, India, as a result of the protests gaining further traction. She wrote, “Why aren’t we talking about this?” which sparked a huge debate on Twitter. While most of India’s right-wing population were not happy with the singer and even burned photos of her while protesting (clearly wrong), I’d hope that Rihanna is not trying to clap back by this exhibit of cultural appropriation, especially when so many people have explained the meaning behind the deity necklace and expressed their disappointment.
So, Rihanna, are you going to step up to the plate and apologize for the cultural appropriation or continue to stay radio silent? The ball is in your court, and your fans are watching and hoping you’ll do the right thing.