Rihanna accused of cultural appropriation after models wear braids during Savage X Fenty show

‘I think we deserved a trigger warning for seeing this many white women in braids,’ one critic writes

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Thursday 30 September 2021 11:25 BST
Rihanna faces backlash after white models wear braids at fashion show
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Rihanna is facing criticism and accusations of cultural appropriation after her latest Savage X Fenty fashion show saw models who are not Black wearing their hair in braids.

On Friday, the singer’s third Savage X Fenty fashion show was released on Amazon, with stars such as Gigi Hadid, Adriana Lima, Vanessa Hudgens and Emily Ratajkowski walking the runway in the brand’s lingerie.

However, shortly after the show aired, many viewers shared concerns over the hairstyles chosen for some of the models, as Ratajkowski and Hudgens both wore their hair in braids during the event, sparking a conversation about the appropriation of Black culture.

“Now why the hell did Rihanna have white dancers in braids on the Fenty X Savage show…” one person tweeted.

Another said: “I love the Fenty show but I think we deserved a trigger warning for seeing this many white women in braids.”

“Why did Rihanna let Vanessa Hudgens and Emily Ratajkowski wear braids in the Fenty show,” someone else asked.

While many expressed their discomfort with the choice to style non-Black models in braids, others defended Rihanna and the lingerie brand.

“It is *not* cultural appropriation to wear braids,” one person claimed on Twitter. “Braids have existed in ALL cultures since BC times. They don’t belong to anyone!! Everyone tries to find ways to manage long hair, and braids are a no-brainer.  No one can rightfully claim ownership here.”

Someone else suggested that braids worn by models in the fashion show could be considered a “good thing”.

“Banning people from hairstyles is not the way towards better understanding and acceptance of each other. Especially when the sharing is being facilitated by a POC. That’s supposed to be a good thing,” they wrote.

This is not the first time that Rihanna has been accused of cultural appropriation over her Savage X Fenty fashion shows, as the 33-year-old apologised last year after criticism over the use of the track Doom by Coucou Chloe, which used vocal samples of an Islamic hadith.

At the time, the Fenty founder apologised for the “honest, yet careless mistake” and thanked the “Muslim community for pointing out a huge oversight that was unintentionally offensive”.

Celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber have also faced cultural appropriation accusations in the past over hairstyles that are traditionally worn in Black culture.

The Independent has contacted Savage X Fenty for comment.

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