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I am a secret Rihanna fan. The truth is, I’m well out of her normal fan demographic. I’m literally old enough to be her mother. I realize that to admit to this will have some of you judge me, but I, like Rihanna, am unapologetic. I love this chick.

For those of you who always had perfectly shiny patent leather shoes to wear to Sunday school and whose Catholic school uniform was always properly pressed, for those who were class president and cried if you got a grade below A, and who came from two-parent, two-car families, Rihanna is not for you. Your role models should be Beyonce or Michelle Obama, two ladies in very different spheres of life who nonetheless have happy marriages and lots of disposable income in common. These ladies embody the “politics of respectability” that many Black women aspire to live up to. They are both hard-working wives and mothers who put in the time and the effort to be able to live the lives they do. I applaud them both.

But this is not about respectability. Rihanna is the poster girl for the rest of us. Rihanna is in her 20’s to be sure, and is hardly an appropriate role model for a grown Black woman. We are supposed to be somewhere married, raising kids, paying a mortgage in some suburb and going to church. We are supposed to be in that Black woman’s lockstep, doing all the right things.

We are supposed to understand that the days of youth are behind us, and that we should fall in line as the sort of sexless, mature, wise figures who take care of the children we didn’t bother to have, or somehow contribute to society in a socially approved way. Rihanna, our guru, is our secret rebellion. We don’t tell everyone about this – we just follow her quietly on Twitter, on Instagram and the gossip blogs. We listen, not necessarily to all her music, but her latest CD “Unapologetic” has some songs we really like. Aren’t we all “Diamonds” after all? Shouldn’t we, at this point in our lives, be unapologetic about our all our choices, even the bad ones?

Maybe Rihanna is not your idea of a role model. She was infamously beaten by her off-again, on-again boyfriend, singer Chris Brown. She’s been semi-naked so much online that she admits her own mother told her , in no uncertain terms, to stop it. She curses, she openly smokes weed and she recently posed on her Instagram in nothing but custom Prada thigh-high boots and a thong. But she’s also the girl who shares Scriptures with her fans, who puts racists and haters in their place and who shared her heartbreak at the sad news of her beloved grandmother’s passing with millions of her followers via social media.

Her “Man Down” video puts a female spin on rape while subtly relating an anti-misogyny message. In other words, she’s often contradictory, sometimes crazy, still young and trying to figure it all out while working and commanding the kind of attention on the world stage that would challenge most of us. Not only are grown women like me reminded of the freedom and possibility we had in our 20’s, for some of us, she’s the embodiment of the rebel spirit that we still have that says we don’t have to have to be who the world, our family, our friends or our lovers want us to be. We love Rihanna, tattoos, hair changes, public mistakes and all, because she reminds us that we still have within us the possibility of truly being ourselves, no matter how old we are.

There’s something compelling about Rihanna’s willingness to live honestly in the spotlight and to reveal some of her most trying moments as she tries to figure them out herself. We know celebs tell you what they want you to know – and rebelliousness is as much a part of Rihanna’s brand as being the poster girl for Doing It All is Beyonce’s. The truth is, Rihanna is far more disciplined than she lets on. At 25, her seven albums have made her one of the top-selling artists of all time. She is a 7-time Grammy winner and has been on five world tours since 2006.

In a week’s time, Rihanna’s social media posts might come from four or five different cities around the world. So despite the controversy, she’s doing what she needs to do to employ not just herself but the various members of Team Rihanna including all the songwriters, producers, musicians, crew and other people who work because she does. After a bout with laryngitis, Rihanna’s in town tonight, hopefully with a healthy throat and ready to entertain the thousands of fans that have been waiting to see her. I don’t know if I’ll make the show because the realities of adult life do mean that things like bills take priority over $200 concert tickets. But whether I see her in person or not, I root for her. And ain’t nobody’s business if I do.


(Photo: PR Photos)

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14 thoughts on “Why Grown Women Love Rihanna

  1. I totally agree with your comment. I love me some Riri. I am a 62 year old grand ma, and will blast her music any were or time. I agree with you, she is a bad ass chick. Tell those haters to go sit down somewhere they are all jealous.

  2. Georgie on said:

    Yes, yes. I love Rih Rih. Besides creating great music, I love her fearlessness and openness. To live under the constant scrutiny that she does and still have a smile on her face is amazing. Although she puts on the badgirl face to protect herself, she still lets you see parts of her heart by posting pics of her grandmom, donating time/money to charities and taking care of her family. Continued success!

  3. ediva75 on said:

    Sorry not a fan of RiRi (musically and otherwise) and to each her own but homegirl is not a role model for me. Grown womenfolk let’s try to find better young women to be cool with admitting we admire (with flaws & imperfections like all of us) that don’t have to be half nekkid a good portion of the time and selling sex cause her voice is WACK. To me Rihanna ain’t it! I wonder if those of you who admire Rihanna and are old enough to be her moms would admire her if she was your daughter on a “Girls Gone Wild” kick. Hmm! Let’s step our game up as women on who to admire! NEXT!!

  4. W. R. Robinson on said:

    wow,……..Tonya Pendleton…….you get me.! I also love Rihanna and can be her mom. I stumbled across this article and cannot believe how well you articulated how I feel about Rihanna! Being a fan of Rihanna was my guilty pleasure, but now I am totally UNAPOLOGETIC when blasting her CD on the way to work.

  5. Finally, somebody gets it. Thank you for this article. I am a huge fan and I ain’t shame to say it. I have gotten into some heavy arguments defending my sister and her right to define herself as she sees fit.

  6. I agree with you totally, I love me some RiRi and I am 66 years old. I love diamonds, stay, and lot of other songs. she is what she is, and that’s what I like about her. They need to leave her along!

  7. Mackenzie on said:

    I totally agree with this article, I love that she doesn’t give a damn and just does her. I hate what happend with her and CB but as we all know no one can tell, make, or shame you into leaving someone you love until your ready. I hope it never happens again but she has to find out for herself. Go head and shake them haters girl!!

  8. Scheran on said:

    I do have to admit I love me some Rih Rih and wouldn’t mind being a homegirl in her clique!!! She’s such a pretty down to earth young woman doing great things. I will always be a fan.

  9. blacknote on said:

    Tonya, I pray that Rihanna reads your commentary and begins to understand what her true worth is from divine standpoint. Hopefully, she’ll be lead to take a detour from the self-destructive, reckless, childish, self-abusing road in which she’s been traveling. It’s not enough for us to believe in her beauty, she must realize it.

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