Rihanna accused of cultural appropriation over topless photo of herself wearing religious pendant

Olivia Petter
·2-min read

Rihanna has been accused of cultural appropriation after sharing a topless photograph wearing a pendant depicting the Hindu god Ganesha.

On Tuesday, the singer posted the image of herself posing beside an outdoor pool at night wearing a pair of silk lilac shorts, the pendant, and a pair of drop earrings.

“When @popcaanmusic said “me nuh wan ya wear no lingerie tonight fa me girl”@savagexfenty [sic],” Rihanna captioned the image.

However, the necklace, which appears to feature a diamond-studded ornamental impression of the elephant-headed deity, has been called into question by some social media users in India.

“Why is she wearing a Hindu idol on a semi-nude pic?” one person commented.

Read more: Opinion - Why the backlash against Rihanna makes sense

“Rihanna, wearing an Indian deity is not a fashion, it’s not a trend,” added another. “It’s about respecting Indian communities.”

One person, whose comment has been liked more than 6,000 times, wrote: “You’re wearing a deity necklace and a Murthi (image of a deity) of my culture that’s already been culturally appropriated enough in the past few years.”

“How is this okay when a person has more than enough resources to at least find out the meaning and significance of the chains and pendant around their neck?”

Another simply wrote: “My religion is not your aesthetic.”

Rihanna has not yet responded to the criticism.

However, the boxers in the photograph have since sold out online.

It’s not the first time Rihanna has been accused of cultural appropriation.

In 2019, the singer was pictured on the cover for Harper’s Bazaar China in a vibrant blue gown that featured pleated, billowing sleeves and a bright red sash tied at her waist.

Inside the magazine, the singer was also shown wearing a number of different looks that include references to Chinese culture, including a manicure featuring lotus flowers and dragonflies, fans in her hair, and even a shih tzu dog.

Despite the magazine sharing its intentions behind the images, which was to show a “Western style icon meets Eastern aesthetic”, people on social media accused the publication and singer of cultural appropriation.

The Independent has commented the singer’s representatives for comment.

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