Since the release of LOUD, Rihanna has appeared more sexually liberated than ever. Everything from her lyrics, performances to videos have a bold, sensual appeal.

While we’ve come to be quite fond of the edgy superstar, footage of her in Barbados donning a red costume, stockings and fancy headdress has caused quite a stir. The singer participated in her country’s annual Kadooment Day Festival celebrating the end of the sugarcane harvest. At the festival, Rihanna was photographed bent over and dancing seductively on men (and even women)—and those photos have hit the net and put writers in a frenzy.

I like to argue that she was having fun. The drinks were flowing, she was on her home island, probably happier than ever to be back. However, some writers, including Amy Odell, a writer for The Cut, implied that Rihanna should be criticized for her dress and participation in the Festival.

The pop star wore a cultural costume at a cultural event, not a dress at a red carpet, so I’m not exactly sure why the headline made it seem as if she was partaking in some type of explicit behavior.

And it seems I’m not the only one slightly concerned with the “negative” portrayal of Rihanna celebrating her culture in Amy’s post, “Look at what Rihanna did in her latest bikini.” One commenter said: “she [Amy] needs to APOLOGIZE for her cultural insensitivity and thinly-veiled Rihanna hatred …she has DEEPLY offended the Caribbean readers of this website. Enough is enough.”

Another defended Amy’s use of the term “bikini” to refer to Rihanna’s costume: “I don’t understand how this is culturally insensitive? It would be like calling a pin-up a grass skirt, it’s just a generic term for people that might not understand the specific term.”

Let’s be honest for a second. How many times has Lady Gaga been spotted walking down the street or attending an event pants-less? Where was the criticism then? Not one reporter referenced Gaga as a “whore” or “skank” or even suggested that she was irresponsible in her dress since she is “a role model.” It’s notable that people with a lighter pigmentation can be “iconic” wearing “bikinis” but those of color in cultural costumes are raunchy and lewd.

What do you think of the photos of Rihanna? Should she live her life as a role model? Knowing the history of Caribbean carnivals, do you think Amy Odell was culturally insensitive for implying Rihanna was behaving badly?

-Krystal Franklin

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