Rihanna’s Harper’s Bazaar China Cover Sparks Racism Questions

a person posing for the camera: Rihanna has been accused of cultural appropriation. Pic: Harper's Bazaar China
©Other Rihanna has been accused of cultural appropriation.

Rihanna is the latest celebrity to be accused of cultural appropriation after appearing on the August 2019 cover of Harper’s Bazaar China.

The 31-year-old shared a first look of her photo shoot for the publication on Instagram, wearing a blue gown with billowing sleeves and holding a Chinese fan.

Her hairstyle and jewelry were also reminiscent of traditional Chinese styles, while the centre of her lips were painted in red.

Harper’s Bazaar China Harper’s Bazaar China also shared images of the magazine shoot on its own Instagram account, describing Rihanna’s look as when “western style icon meets eastern aesthetic”.

But the images were criticised by social media users, with many accusing the publication and the Umbrella singer of cultural appropriation.

One user commented on Instagram: “I am Asian and I find it offensive. I know Rihanna and the creators of this photo doesn’t give a s____ about my opinion, which only proves that the disrespect they have to our culture. If you wanted to create an asian look why didn’t you invite asian artists?”

Another said: “Not appropriate and racist. She has no idea what she’s wearing.”

Others defended the magazine’s styling, with one user writing: “This is cultural appreciation, not appropriation. If she were claiming to be Chinese or she invented the style, appropriation fits.”

Another posted: “Does nobody realize this is a CHINESE magazine? It’s literally an Asian magazine using a model.

“Asian magazine companies are not going to put her in western clothes or something from Barbados. They’re going to use their culture to dress the model.”

Other photos from the photo shoot include more references to Chinese culture, including a manicure featuring lotus flowers and dragonflies, and a Shih Tzu dog.

Some Instagrammers compared it to Kim Kardashian West’s recent cultural appropriation controversy after she named her new shapewear line Kimono – which is the name of a traditional Japanese garment.

The 38-year-old was lambasted by social media users for trademarking the term, a play on her name, which she has since announced will be rebranded.

Her half-sister, model Kendall Jenner, was also accused of cultural appropriation when she wore a hairstyle that many felt was similar to an afro for a US Vogue cover.

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