Rihanna strikes me as a kind person. I don’t know for sure, obviously, because I don’t actually know her (excuse me, do you mean my close personal friend Rihanna??) She also comes across as a sharp businesswoman. Her Fenty beauty line is beloved because the collection is inclusive to all skin tones, tending to the glaring blind spots in the beauty world by catering to women of color.
But now we have proof that both of my suspicions are true and Rihanna is the best. A fan slipped into Rih’s DMs (according to a screenshot that the user later posted on Twitter) to compliment her on the Fenty campaign and suggest that the next time she “record something,” she should “invite a trans girl to the group.” The way she responded makes we wish we could Rihanna in charge of more things, including diversity hiring just about, uh, everywhere:
I’ve had the pleasure of working with many gifted trans women throughout the years, but I don’t go around doing trans castings! Just like I don’t do straight non trans women castings! I respect all women, and whether they’re trans or not is none of my business! It’s personal and some trans women are more comfortable being open about it than others so I have to respect that as a woman myself! I don’t think it’s fair that a trans woman, or man, be used as a convenient marketing tool! Too often do I see companies doing this to trans and black women alike! There’s always just that one spot in the campaign for the token “we look mad diverse” girl/guy! It’s sad!
It is sad! Representation matters, but hiring more transgender people (or women, or gay people, or people of color, or any minority group) just to signal that your company is more woke than the next is the kind of dirty, underhanded thing that fools consumers into thinking that progress is really happening when it’s not. (Pro-tip: progress isn’t just telling someone you’re progressive in an advertisement.) Rih’s answer also touches on the tricky subject of how to scout trans models without forcing anyone who doesn’t want to out themselves. Maybe she could start by looking at trans modeling agencies, like this one in New York.
Still, the way she handled it gives me hope that pop stars can be agents of change. And, apparently, respond to fans’ DMs. I love my close and personal friend Rihanna.