Cover Me, I'm Going In: My Girl RiRi's CFDA Dress, and the Important Conversation We Should Be Having

I don't usually like to jump in the fray when people are brawling about celebrities and their fashion choices. Standing on the sidelines (read: sitting at my laptop and scrolling down the Twitter timeline) and laughing at people who slip up on their own hypocrisy or step in without first working out their moves is much more fun for me.

What people are chirping frenziedly about this week, is good ol' RiRi and her boobies. Again. People are so cut up about the dress that she wore to the CFDA awards, and of course the words "slut", "appropriate" and "role model" have been bandied about.

The dress is quite shocking, that's true. But, in terms of Rihanna, "shocking" really just means "fabulously risque, and completely over the top; will probably be on next month's must-have lists in some form".

Vanity Fair





Ever since she first dyed her hair red, people have been following and copying Rihanna's style choices. She is giving us something interesting, and she is creating trends at the same time as she is interpreting current styles in a unique way. She is definitely deserving of the Fashion Icon award that Wintour gave her: she is using fashion to advance her career, and to make a mark on pop culture in a big way. While there are, admittedly, some clothes which I could not believe she ever wore, and which I would not wear, I don't go around feeling entitled to judge her for her choices. The fact is, I respect her hustle. Rihanna's work with River Island and MAC, and the way consumers responded to the products in those collaborations, shows that she has got something valuable to contribute to the fashion world.

Whether or not her clothing is "appropriate" is neither here nor there. She is in the entertainment business, and a large factor of success in this business is shock value. And let us not forget, these standards of propriety are constantly changing. There are no absolute rules in fashion, so that is hardly a basis for any type of debate. If it is "inappropriate" for some commentators, all that means is that they are not her audience. The idea of her being a "bad role model" also doesn't hold much water. It is the same idea that was used by detractors in the "has Miley lost it?" debates, and definitely in similar discussions about Lady Gaga and Madonna before that.
Yes, people in the media and their behaviours are influences for young people- they dictate the trends and build up a social world for the youth. But this does not mean that media personalities are responsible for raising the children, and teaching them to be strong-minded individuals who know how to react to and interpret the different things they see in the media. No, mom and dad- that's your job. Rihanna is not responsible for your child. The way that you are speaking about how this woman is using and presenting her body in public, is showing your children (your daughters, specifically) that their bodies are the only things they will be judged for in society, and that they should be ashamed of them.

People are much too quick to use words like "slut" and "whore" when talking about Rihanna, and that just means that the debate is going deeper into murky waters: now we're policing women's sexuality and the expressions of it. Sexuality is something that makes a lot of us extremely uncomfortable, and the fact that Rihanna is out here flaunting hers leaves us confused. I am saying "us" now, because it has also taken me a little bit of time to reconcile my hang-ups with the work (music videos, photo shoots) that Rihanna has been presenting over the last year or two. But I am over it. Rihanna is working hard, she is still relevant, and she will be dictating trends and starting conversations for quite some time yet.

What this CFDA "scandal" (the word most commentators have chosen to use- the media is so dramatic) shows us is that we are still struggling against a mindset which can only relate to women's bodies in terms of the social anxieties of the moment. If society was not dealing with problems around the complexities of women's sexuality, and their right to express it without having to fear persecution from other women or abuse from men, Rihanna's dress wouldn't matter at all. She has become an accidental "spokesbody" by virtue of being in the public eye.


Read More: Sandiso Ngubane's post on the issue (which actually inspired my leap into brawl)


Comments

  1. You have a great writing voice. I try to read most blogs ATLEAST 40% through but yours I honestly read all the way. I absolutely agree with everything you said.

    Further, I think it's so fascinating that people are so appalled by nudity. I truthfully find that the swarovski crystals on bare skin looks absolutely beautiful.

    xo, N
    www.natashasolae.com

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    1. Thank you, Natasha! I'm so glad to hear that what I work on here is worth people's time :)

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  2. Dear, randomly found your blog and I’d like to say that you have amazing design, beautiful photos and interesting posts! I’m also impressed by your style! Everything is magnificent!

    would you like to follow each other?
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    1. Hi Diana!

      Thank you so much for your comment :) I'm so glad that you enjoyed your first visit to my blog.

      I have just checked out yours, and I see you're on bloglovin. I'll definitely be following your style posts.

      Thanks again for stopping by!

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