15 Jul RIHANNA’S COVER FOR HARPER’S BAZAAR CHINA SPARKS CULTURAL APPROPRIATION DEBATE
Last week, Harper’s Bazaar China unveiled its August cover, featuring Rihanna. The Fenty fashion designer is no stranger to gracing the covers of major publications, appearing on British Vogue‘s June 2018 cover and the September 2018 Allure cover. But this time, some have taken issue with Rihanna’s cover wardrobe and makeup, accusing her of cultural appropriation.
Following the release of the cover image, multiple social-media users responded, questioning whether the image was an instance of cultural appropriation, Refinery 29 reported. “If this was Kim Kardashian it would’ve been called cultural appropriation,” one user responded. Another asked, “Isn’t …. that … cultural appropriation ?!?!” A third speculated that other celebs would have encountered a far worse reaction, tweeting, “I don’t have a problem with Rihanna being dressed like this, we can argue this as cultural appreciation rather than appropriation. Annoyed that if this was Katy Perry or Kim K, they’d be mass called out and canceled. Calling out the people who practice ‘selective cancel culture.'”
Although many expressed dissatisfaction with the cover, others pointed out the nature of the photo shoot, defending Rihanna. “It’s not cultural appropriation because the entire team behind Harper’s Bazaar China is Chinese, and it’s specificated in their Instagram post,” one Twitter user wrote. “THEY…dressed Rihanna like that.” The point was also backed by another follower, who wrote, “Cultural appropriation happens when you take someone’s culture for your own. Rihanna was literally dressed to pay homage to their culture. Appreciation, not appropriation.”
As for Harper’s Bazaar China, it described the cover as “eastern meet western aesthetic” in an accompanying Instagram caption. And while some have compared the cover to recent cultural-appropriation accusations lodged against Kim Kardashian-West’s initial decision to name her shapewear line Kimono,” some Instagram users pointed out how this situation isn’t the same. “[Harper’s Bazaar] gave her permission and picked out what they wanted her to wear. That’s the difference,” one person wrote. “She is on the cover of a Chinese magazine. That’s the difference. She didn’t make up [her] own photo shoot for her own magazine and then took their ideas for THEM. They chose to do THIS.”