The world's richest female musician sure knows how to take a pretty picture. Though, this time, instead of wearing Fenty (like truly only she can), LVMH's new addition is posing for Harper's Bazaar China. On Monday, the magazine released the August 2019 cover and while the images are beautiful, some people on the Internet are speculating if the gorgeous captures are considered cultural appropriation.
"Why is Kim not allowed to call her brand Kimono cos it’s cultural appropriation yet Rihanna can do shit like this?? Just doesn’t sit right with me," one user tweeted in response to the mogul sharing the image. "Wait a minute when Kendal Jenner was on the cover of a magazine with an 'afro' people were screaming cultural appropriation but when Rihanna dresses up like this, nobody says anything, it's art, it's glam," another wrote.
Much like diversity and inclusion, the term cultural appropriation is a buzzword that has taken on a life of its own. People cry appropriation without acknowledging the intent and education behind the project. Particularly with the Kardashian and Jenners, a family that never seems to tire of getting dragged on the Internet, the appropriation claims arise when they are culturally insensitive. Between criticism over Kylie's cornrows, wigs, and even lips, and Kendall’s entire Pepsi fiasco (which alluded to a Black Lives Matter protest), when the Kardashian/Jenners are called out its often for a not-thought-out decision.
Rihanna's Harper's Bazaar cover isn't that. The shoot is the brainchild of the Harper's Bazaar China team, and there's nothing denigrating about any of the looks she's wearing. They're modern renditions of imperial looks, created with the utmost respect.
Respect makes all the difference. Cultural appropriation, by definition, is the unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of elements from another's culture; it's an act defined by a lack of respect for other people's customs, practices, and traditions. It's disrespectful to take the Japanese word Kimono, give it a new definition, and then try to make money off of it. Same with co-opting the Black Lives Matter movement to sell soda. Rihanna, by contrast, is paying homage to Chinese culture — in a Chinese magazine wearing outfits styled by Chinese editors.
As one Twitter user put it: "Rihanna did it for Harper's Bazaar China. She gave credit to the Chinese team who worked with her. They gave Rihanna permission therefore it's not cultural appropriation."