Rihanna is marketed like a soft porn star instead of a musical artist

The singer and her management are using her body to cling on to her career

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It’s odd that someone who wears so little could get honoured with a fashion award, but that’s exactly what happened to the pop star Rihanna this week. The Council of Fashion Designers of America awarded the singer for her risk-taking and she collected said accolade in an ensemble composed mainly of fishnet and nipples. Leaving absolutely nothing to the imagination, the only thing Rihanna risked in that outfit was catching the flu.

Rihanna, so fond of risqué dress, is using her body to cling on to her career – as are her management. She has a fine voice, but that’s not what’s being used to sell her. She is a beautiful girl who looks great naked so she’s being marketed like a soft porn star instead of a musical artist. It’s the same with Miley Cyrus, who announced to the world that she was no longer a child star by stripping off and squatting on a giant steel ball. Her idea of getting dressed is to wear hotpants so tight they’re probably giving her an infection.

Miley’s antics are more unintentionally hilarious than sexy, but they’re also depressing. Miley, Rihanna and their fellow barely-dressed popstrels might claim that baring their bodies is an empowered choice, but male pop stars don’t have to get their kit off to stay famous and successful. These talented girls are being used like pieces of meat.

So it was refreshing this week to see another young woman, Bruce Willis’ daugher Scout, bare her body in an empowering statement this week. Strolling through the streets of NYC in a protest against internet censorship, she was protesting against a ban on topless women in public and Instagram’s decision to remove pictures of Rihanna. Instagram went on to remove photos of Scout but actually Scout’s nudity and Rihanna’s are poles apart.

Scout Willis didn’t cause shock because she was half-naked. She caused shock because she stripped off in a way that demanded equality. She was reclaiming her body outside of the submissive, commercial paradigm in which Rihanna and Miley get plaudits for baring their breasts. It’s okay to get naked if you’re selling something and approved by men. But it’s not okay if its not for sexual commoditisation. Women like Scout and her fellow protesters should be awarded, not Rihanna.

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