Why Rihanna is, in fact, not a can of green tea


The cable gods answered my prayers on Sunday, August 19th, as they delivered a gift for my 20th birthday. It may as well have been wrapped in gold with a bow made of literal angel hairs.

The tectonic force that is Robyn Rihanna Fenty collided with the Oprah atmosphere for a sit down, cry-all and tell-all interview. After Rih Rih’s big interview with Oprah on her Next Chapter, videos, excerpts, and photos popped up on social media websites. Unlike what is common for men, Rihanna’s outfit and appearance were talked about in the articles that discussed the interview. I watched the interview, and thought nothing more of her outfit than: my girl look gooooood. She was dressed modestly (unlike her typical bangin’ outfits) in a flower-print Marc Jacobs dress, tennis shoes, hoops, and light make up.

Of course I am disappointed that her outfit has to be a part of this discussion of her interview, because it eclipses the content of the interview itself, which was an honest BP oil spill about her personal life; it was a bold and selfless act for the highest selling electronic artist in history.

As I searched the Internet for reviews about the interview itself, specifically experts’ critics of her response to domestic violence, I noticed a popular image cropping up.The photo is a picture of Rihanna while being filmed for the interview with a photo of an Arizona Green Tea can superimposed next to her. The Arizona Green Tea company tweeted with the photo: “Who wore it better? Rihanna Vs. A can of AriZona Green Tea.” Snicker snicker snicker, you clever bastards! You have commodified and objectified a survivor of domestic abuse as she opens up her soul about it (with power and grace) while over two million people tune in! Congratulations! U mad that Rihanna could probably buy your family?

It is appalling that magazines and gossip sites keep the “who wore it best” competition alive. It typically pits beautiful women, who happen to wear the same outfit (a reason for news!) against each other. Why can’t these women hold hands and walk down the red carpet together, like I did with all my best girlfriends in Catholic grade school when we wore the same jumper and polo to school every day? Why does anyone care if they pick the same outfit? Why can’t it be more like: Hey girl, I like your style!

What is worse about this competition though, is that it compares Rihanna to an object- a literal product. By using this comparison, it tells the viewer to value Rih Rih like you would a good or a product, and her value and worth can be measured in such a way. Women are already seen as sexual objectss in our society. They are the living, breathing, sighing, grinning and bearing, dummies (no pun intended) that society hangs their carefully designed garments on.

Especially in light of what Rihanna divulged in her interview, which was largely about how the person she loved treated her body as an object (her personal punching bag), this comparison of Rihanna and a can of Iced Tea is dangerous, irresponsible, and hurtful. It is another 10 steps backwards for the media, and for the world. When one sister is degraded, we are all degraded.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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