It’s 2024 And People Are Still Shaming Rihanna For Her Postpartum Body

Another day, another criticism of a woman’s appearance. This time, it happens to be the award-winning global superstar and mother-of-two, Rihanna.

The 36-year-old singer has two sons with her partner A$AP Rocky – RZA Athelston Mayers, who was born in May 2022, and Riot Rose Mayers, born in August 2023 – meaning she gave birth less than eight months ago. However, that hasn’t stopped an influx of trolls criticising her body shape during a recent performance at a pre-wedding party in India.
Rihanna attends the Dior Haute Couture show during Paris Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2024 at Musee Rodin on January 22, 2024 in Paris, France. (Photo by Max Cisotti/Dave Benett/Getty Images)

The Fenty Beauty founder was asked to sing at billionaire Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant Jamnagar’s pre-wedding party last week and clips of her performance have since been circulating online. Not only has the performance been labelled ‘lacklustre’ and ‘boring’, but people have used it as an opportunity to body shame her too.

One Instagram user commented on the video saying, ‘She looks pregnant again’ and another wrote, ‘go get your stomach done! You got money girl.’ The rest of the comment section was filled with remarks calling Rihanna ‘out of shape’, ‘big’, ‘chunky’ and ‘overweight’.

Fortunately, as body positivity activist Alex Light pointed out in a recent Instagram video, there were almost as many people fighting back against the trolls too. One user responded, ‘Can we just normalise the natural bodies of mothers?’ and another put, ‘ya’ll need to educate yourselves on women’s postpartum bodies.’ A third person wrote, ‘Hating on a woman for having a belly. Get a life you losers.’

While it’s reassuring to know that people feel strongly about defending a woman’s right to exist without having her body torn apart by online trolls, there is still a long way to go. Regardless of her performance, Rihanna’s appearance – especially as a new mother – should not be up for debate.

Sadly, this is nothing new. Rihanna’s last public performance was at the Super Bowl Halftime Show in February 2023 when she revealed her second pregnancy – and baby bump – publicly for the first time, which prompted an equally cruel flurry of criticism. One viewer said ‘she didn’t even do anything’ and another wrote that ‘she wasn’t dancing, why did she take the halftime show if she wasn’t going to dance?’

While others speculated that she might be pregnant because of her shape before it had been confirmed, then criticised her for performing while pregnant and oversexualising her pregnant body. One person even wrote, ‘two babies and no ring’.

Several people rightly jumped to her defence at the time, with one writing: ‘Rihanna has won 235 awards including 9 Grammys in her 20 year career. She’s acted, has twice been named TIME’s 100 [meaning she has been included on TIME magazine’s annual list of 100 most influential people in the world], does incredible philanthropy, & has multiple non-music business ventures. She just sang the Super Bowl halftime & the immediate reaction is just on her body?’ Well said.

Hopefully Rihanna – who is also thought to have made $6.3m for her recent performance – won’t be fazed by the chatter. What it does do, however, is perpetuate a harmful narrative around female bodies that only hurts the rest of us.

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