“Inclusion…has been something that has resonated with me in all my brands and not like intentionally but for the most part just subconsciously that’s what I…love that’s what I relate to. When it came to beauty the first woman that I’ve seen put on makeup was my mom that was a black woman and to think that that was a sector that was completely ignored in the beauty industry, I didn’t know until I actually made my foundation line and now it…happened again with lingerie. I want women to feel confident no matter what size they are no matter what shade of nude they are no matter what their personality is what their race is their religion is, I want women to feel confident and sexy because that’s who we are and we deserve to feel like that” -Rihanna (Extratv, 2020).
Rihanna wants to change the world. She wants to make a difference and she saw what this world was missing. She saw that it was missing diversity and that you filmmakers, directors, scouts, etc lacked that diversity in your work.
According to the Global G.L.O.W. Team “More than ever, teens are struggling with their bodies because they are not being shown realistic body standards. Many don’t see their body types in advertisements or in media, and if they do, they are shown in a poor light” (Global G.L.O.W. Team, 2021). Aware of this reality, Rihanna wants women to feel confident in their own skin. She dreams that for once we won’t have to worry about our skin, height, weight, and religious style when it comes to beauty. She’s sending a message that these things do not determine your beauty.
Rihanna is a 33-year-old singer, actress, and businesswoman, who throughout her years slowly transitioned away from her singing career to start her own business which is now changing the world for many women. During her music career, she was also known for her sense of style and creativity, so it wasn’t a surprise when she decided to take a different route. Rihanna’s makeup company “Fenty Beauty ‘’ is known for its broad inclusivity in skin tones, offering 50 different shades of foundation. She also launched a clothing brand called “Savage X Fenty” where her clothes range from sizes xs-3x.
At the beginning of Rihanna’s career, she was very skinny and petite. However, every time she would disappear from public life she would come back with weight gained. With her weight loss and weight gain, she went through all the stages of being petite and plus size. As a result, there has consistently been a lot of positive and not-so-positive talk on social media about Rihanna’s size. Given this experience, Rihanna has a clear understanding of body and skin positivity and has decided to share it with other women and build up their confidence that has been crushed.
Even though Rihanna’s message goes against the many ways that Instagram portrays women, she still uses her social media platforms to do good and do what others have decided not to do. Her Instagram @ fentybeauty has 11.7M followers and @savagexfenty has 4.9M followers. On her pages, she has a variety of women. She has black, Asian, white, Hispanic, etc. She also includes petite women and plus-size women. She has women with hijabs, stretch marks, acne, and dark spots. She just doesn’t exclude any women and makes sure everyone is included because they deserve to and nothing less. But Rihanna didn’t stop there.
Making The Switch
She also has had two fentyxsavage fashion shows which were televised for all of the world to see. In these fashion shows, she incorporated all these different women short and tall. There were women with disabilities (a metal leg and arm) and tattoos- women you wouldn’t normally see walking the runway. This fashion show made history for multiple women and gave them hope again. Through her various platforms, Rihanna has shown that it’s one thing to say something and another thing to show those things with actions.
The “Unseen” Truth
Women have been struggling for many years when it came to their image. Suicide rates have gone up because of social media and the messages they are sending out to all women. They are telling women that if they don’t look a certain way they aren’t beautiful. It’s giving women new insecurities they never had before. However, Rihanna is rebuilding everyone’s love for themselves. She’s telling us to embrace what we hate about ourselves because that’s what makes us different and unique. Why should women have to deal with such insecurities caused by social media, commercials, tv shows, billboards, etc?
In an interview, Rihanna reflected, “We have just been blessed to have the opportunity to be around a lot of different experiences, a lot of different experience cultures and we try to take advantage of all those experiences” (HIPHOP CROWN NATION, 2020).
Rihanna has put herself in positions to give opportunities to the unseen. She has given her platform much thought and has dedicated her career to helping others be seen. It’s very inspiring to see a young woman see the problem and not turn an eye away. I’ve seen many situations where influencers do the bare minimum. They flash us with their lifestyle and the fun things that go on in their lives. We see the excitement, happiness, love, determination, and friendships, but we never see the true influence. The question always asked is: what is the point of influencers if they aren’t influencing?
What Kind of Influence are the Influencers Influencing?
The lack of diversity is affecting many women and not in a positive way. This pain forces women to feel useless, doubting themselves, dealing with pain to look “beautiful”, inflicting pain on themselves, and in general not loving themselves. From the New York Daily News 18 million people had plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery in 2018 (Kassidy Vavra, 2019).
Imagine how many people have gotten it now since it’s promoted. Not only do a lot of people get surgery done but they also lie about it. This gives many women the idea of what an ideal body and face should look like. It gives them the message that perfection exists and it’s not them which just isn’t true. Now there is nothing wrong with getting something done, what you do with your body is your choice and judging goes against women’s empowerment, but if it is in response to being influenced, there lies a problem. If getting surgery means you will now love yourself, then maybe you should reconsider. Find love in yourself before you try to change yourself.
Women are only seeing tall, skinny women on fashion shows. They see skinny, light-skinned women on tv and if they see anything fatter or darker, then that woman is less appealing. That is the issue. We need to see more diversity. People we normally see in the streets. We need more empowerment and fewer insecurities. So filmmakers, directors, scouts, etc, next time think deeply about the people you choose because you can make or break someone.
We all need to take some notes from Rihanna. She has seen the lack of diversity in the world. She has seen the pain and destruction it causes. Every woman knows how it feels to not be represented and constantly judged. Let’s not be one of the reasons women feel this way. It’s time for a change, so let’s change.
As we enter 2022, I think it’s not an impossible task to ensure that people feel included in the media or in society. We have to start investing in a future that represents what we see in our day-to-day life. We have to start opening our eyes to equality and then, just maybe, we can start living a meaningful life.
Here’s one last message from Rihanna… “I don’t care what size you are, what race you are, what religion you come from, I want you to feel like you’re represented, HERE” (ShortsDaBest, 2021).