Rihanna’s Asian-Inspired Cover Shoot Led To Criticism Over Cultural Appropriation

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Rihanna is featured on the cover of an upcoming issue of Harper’s Baazar China, and the magazine’s photo shows the singer gazing down at an ornate fan. Rihanna’s billowing hair, reminiscent of a geisha, is decorated with fanned paper while her royal blue gown cascades around her. According to the publication, the photo is meant to show “when western style icon meets eastern aesthetic,” but not everyone agrees. Many began criticizing both the singer and the publication for inappropriately adopting elements of Chinese culture, or in other words, cultural appropriation.

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Many comments underneath Harper’s Baazar’s Instagram photo call the shoot distasteful. “This is a total smack in the face to the asian culture,” one of the top comments reads. “I am asian and I find it offensive,” another comment reads. “I know [Rihanna] and the creators of this photo doesn’t give a sh*t about my opinion, which only proves that the disrespect they have to our culture.”

Some took to Twitter to share their opinion about the photo shoot.

Others disagreed that the shoot was appropriation, saying there’s a distinct difference between “cultural appropriation” and “cultural appreciation.”

Rihanna’s issue of Harper’s Baazar China goes to print in August. The publication called Rihanna “a voice for the minority” and “a role model for girls all over the world.”