A few hours after the initial shock of Rihanna’s official pregnancy announcement had worn off and I had tweeted through all my feelings that were just different variations of me saying “him, girl??!!” a warmer, more sentimental feeling started to take over me.
A realization had struck me that I had witnessed Rihanna’s growth since the very beginning of her career. I was ten years old when this beautiful Bajan singer first broke onto the scene with her dance single “Pon De Replay.” I don’t remember much from those early days. I do however remember the near-ubiquity of her presence just a few years later when she left behind the Beyoncé-lite era her label was molding her into and reemerged with a shorter, darker haircut, a new edgier sound, and the bad gal moniker. At that moment Rihanna reintroduced herself as someone who is always going to be her own person – not who other people expect her to be.
I won’t spend time here rehashing the very public personal turmoils she’s gone through in her career. Or all the now-iconic online fights she’s had with trolls and other celebrities. But at every point when the world wanted to humble Rihanna or at every point that could’ve been the end of her story, was another moment where she reinvented herself and came back stronger than ever, with more recruits into her Rihanna Navy.
On her last album (which hopefully won’t be her LAST album), Rihanna fully embraced and concretized herself as the definitive queen of savagery in songs like “Needed Me” and “Desperado.” She would be no sucker for love or the bad bitch tool a man used to fix his inner issues.
Now at 34, she’s gushing over her partner and their new baby. What made me get the warm fuzzies after Rihanna’s pregnancy announcement is that I’m a part of the emerging generation of women that watched as the singer modeled a version of womanhood that showed the ways in which being sexy and ruthless can be freeing. She showed how not bending to the will of others could lead you to the life that you want. That you can have multiple careers and still find a love to build a home with.
With her rebellious maternity fashion and her recent Vogue cover spread, where she talks about her hopes for motherhood and about her relationship with her current partner, it seems like Rihanna is once again ready to reinvent herself.
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