The singer-turned-business mogul Rihanna has turned some heads during her last Savage X Fenty show airing over the weekend, and it wasn’t for just the lingerie.
The lingerie brand founder has been accused of cultural appropriation as non-black models were seen to be wearing cornrows, Fulani braids, and other intricate braiding styles that are unique to the Black community.
Television writer Raina wrote, “I wish I could write something as funny as Rihanna putting all these white girls in braids for the fenty show” and fan Dylan Ali wrote, “I love the Fenty show but I think we need a trigger warning for seeing this many white women in braids.”
I wish I could write something as funny as Rihanna putting all these white girls in braids for the fenty show— raina (@quakerraina) September 24, 2021
I love the fenty show but I think we deserved a trigger warning for seeing this many white women in braids— Dylan Ali (@dylanali_) September 24, 2021
Another fan admitted she liked the show but was also confused, “Loving everything about this show except why are white women in braids??? Rihanna?? What’s good!? I need answers.”
Loving everything about this show except why are white women in braids??? Rihanna?? What’s good!? I need answers. #SAVAGEXFENTYSHOW— princess👑bubblegum (@carmelaluvsyou) September 24, 2021
One of the models in question are Emily Ratajkowski
Couple things that made me go „meh“ at Riri‘s #SAVAGEXFENTYSHOW . First thing is all the white girls in braids. For what? Anyways. Next is Emily Ratajkowski walking her walk during the „mad ethnic right now“ line while … wearing braids 😭 Hunny she’s polish-israeli.— khlo 🧚🏽 (@c_contemplatess) September 26, 2021
St. Clair Detrick-Jules, author of My Beautiful Black Hair commented per The Guardian, “For the producers of Rihanna’s fashion show to fashion white models with distinctively Black braids kind of feels exhausting. We’ve been making some headway with educating non-Black women about how deep our connections are to our hair – yet here come the producers willfully ignoring all the easily accessible information online explaining what cultural appropriation is and why it’s harmful.”
Detrick-Jules adding, “The fact that our knowledge is so vague and often filled more with myths than facts, partly accounts for why there’s so much cultural appropriation. They have been used to indicate social status, religion, marital status, and other identity markers. In other words, braids, like other Black hairstyles, are reflective of culture.”
The author goes on to say that the education in the U.S. lacks depth into indigenous and Black history which leads non-Black women thinking it’s OK to put braids in their hair.“I look at the education system here in the United States and it’s clear that we have been miseducated about our history, in particular with regards to indigenous and Black history.”
She concludes her statement that Black hairstyles are not a trend and that they play an important role in the Black community’s history,“[They] don’t understand that, for us, Black hair is Black history. [They] also don’t understand the centuries of real trauma Black women have suffered because of our hair and so [a non-Black woman] doesn’t understand that, to us, braids or other natural Black hairstyles aren’t ‘fashion’. They are history, they are our connection to our ancestors – a connection that was deliberately broken by the slave trade – they are heritage.”