Rihanna's topless photo sparks 'cultural appropriation' row

Kristine Tarbert
·Senior Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
·2-min read

Rihanna caused quite a stir among her followers when she shared a topless photo online this week, however the image has also sparked outrage as fans accuse the star of 'cultural appropriation'.

The 32-year-old's racy image saw her sporting a necklace ornament of the Hindu god Ganesha, which saw people online and even politicians in India slam her post as "derogatory" and "disrespectful".

Rihanna attends 2019 AFI Fest opening night premiere of
Rihanna has come under fire for 'cultural appropriation'. Photo: AP

"It's appalling to see how @Rihanna shamefully mocks our beloved Hindu God #Ganesha," tweeted Ram Kadam, a state legislator from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu-nationalist party.

"This exposes how #Rihanna has no idea or respect for Indian culture, tradition and our issues here," he added.

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And others on social media agreed.

"People need to start holding Rihanna accountable for her cultural appropriation 'cause I'm tired," one person said on Twitter.

"It's disrespectful to our religion when an idol is used for promoting something which people sexualise, no one's even blaming her we just want her to realise that it comes off as disrespectful to a whole religion," another agreed.

Rihanna posed topless for her Savage X Fenty line. Photo: Instagram/Rihanna
Rihanna posed topless for her Savage X Fenty line. Photo: Instagram/Rihanna

While another wrote: "I鈥檝e been seeing a lot of cultural appropriation towards Hindus and other Eastern religions and cultures go on lately. We need to be more vocal about this! @rihanna Pls remove that pic, apologise, and do better!! I鈥檒l have to unfollow. Disappointed."

There were some who defended Rihanna's choice to wear the pendant stating it was simply part of 'fashion' these days.

"If anyone wants to take my culture and traditional costumes and religious figures, do it. I'd be happy to see other people enjoying it also," one person said.

"They can鈥檛 be mad when the image of #Ganesha is literally everywhere on clothing etc in the US. #hatersgonnahate." was another response.

Images of the lingerie photoshoot come just weeks after she upset the Indian government by commenting on huge farmers' protests that pose a major challenge to New Delhi.

The right-wing World Hindu Council said it had filed police complaints against Facebook and Twitter for hosting the picture and demanded action against Rihanna's social media accounts.

It's not the first time Rihanna has come under fire for similar missteps.

Back in October 2020, she issued an apology to the Muslim community for using a song featuring sacred Islamic texts in her Savage x Fenty lingerie show.

The singer was also previously forced to pull a highlighter called 'Geisha Chic' from her Fenty Beauty company.

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