Was Rihanna’s Harper’s Bazaar China Cover An Example Of Cultural Appropriation?

July 10, 2019  |  
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This cultural appropriation discussion is an interesting one mostly because everyone’s definition of it is different. While some people recognize it in various instances, the rules are not clearly defined. The debate arose again today after Rihanna’s most recent magazine cover was revealed.

The singer turned businesswoman posed for Harper’s Bazaar China. You can see from the images, that her makeup, while not fully committed, mimics Geisha culture. And her hair is not a loose interpretation, it’s all the way there. The clothes appear to be more Westernized. When Harper’s Bazaar shared the image on their Instagram page, they noted that she was styled, photographed, and produced by Chinese people. They wrote that they wanted to depict Rihanna, a “western style icon” in an “eastern aesthetic.”

So, the question is, are celebrities guilty of cultural appropriation, when people of the culture have dressed her? But when a company stands to gain money from a prominent celebrity’s image, is it right to exploit a centuries-long culture in the process? This is what people debated on Twitter today.

See what they had to say on the following pages.

What do you think about the shoot? Was it appropriation?

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