Social media users are questioning why Rihanna’s fashion show chose to style these stars in braids.
The third Savage x Fenty fashion show dropped on Amazon on Friday, September 24. While many people have praised Rihanna’s lingerie show for its celebration of all kinds of bodies, as well as the show’s creative direction, some people wondered why the show had Vanessa Hudgens and Emily Ratajkowski sport braids during their scenes. Neither Hudgens nor Ratajkowski are Black women, and many believe the choice of hairstyle is an appropriation of Black culture.
One user tweeted, “Loving everything about this show except why are white women in braids??? Rihanna?? What’s good!? I need answers.”
Another added, “Rihanna really loves putting non black ppl in braids for her fenty whatever show and then call it ‘mad ethnic right now,’” while a third wrote, “Not Rihanna letting nonblack ppl wear braids for her lil underwear line fashion show.”
A TikToker who made a video review of the show even joked of the braids, “I’m not even going to say anything because I know what’s going to be said.”
Over the years, many stars — from Shay Mitchell to the Kardashians — have been called out for appropriating Black culture with their hairstyles. The controversy stems from the fact that non-Black celebrities are celebrated for a choice of hairstyle created by and typically worn by Black people, while the Black community has not received the same accolades or credit for the look — and is sometimes even criticized for the same style choices. (For example, when Zendaya wore dreadlocks on the red carpet in 2015, a fashion commenter said it looked like her hair smelled “like weed.”)
However, what’s unique about this situation is the fact that Rihanna — a Black woman — likely had the final creative word in how these women were styled, which is part of the reason why the internet is so perplexed.
Rihanna, Hudgens, and Ratajkowski have not responded to the controversy.