Where would you even start when talking about Rihanna’s impact on the world? Not only is she one of the most successful recording artists of all time, but she’s also making her mark in the fashion and beauty industries. And the 34-year-old is doing it all her own way, even if she goes against cultural norms.
The Barbados native first gained recognition in 2005 when an American producer had her record a demo. Two years later, Rihanna won a Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for her hit single “Umbrella,” firmly cementing her as a star. Since then, she has sold over 250 million records, released 14 No. 1 hits, won eight more Grammys, and, according to Forbes, is the world’s wealthiest female musician.
The singer is one of the biggest names in fashion, founding cosmetics brand Fenty Beauty and apparel label Fenty under the prominent LVMH conglomerate. Plus, she has ventured into film, taking major roles in films like Battleship, Ocean’s 8, and more.
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What sets Rihanna's brands apart from others is her constant attention to diversity and inclusion. For example, her makeup line has more than 50 shades to ensure beauty is available to all, and the clothing division includes sizes up to 3XL with models of all shapes and sizes donning the duds. What’s more, the entrepreneur is the first Black woman to head a luxury brand at LVMH, again pushing societal norms.
Rihanna’s philanthropic work is also extensive and impressive. In 2006, at just 18, she started the Believe Foundation. This organization works with terminally ill children providing them financial, emotional and educational support. In 2012, she established the Clara Lionel Foundation, which advocates for those in need around the world through educational, emergency and health initiatives. Over the years Rhianna has supported various causes including HIV/AIDS awareness, cancer research and accessible clean water advocacy. Rhianna gave us a bit of insight into her humble viewpoint when accepting the Humanitarian of the Year Award from Harvard in 2017, “All you need to do is help one person, expecting nothing in return. To me, that is a humanitarian.”
It’s this trailblazing attitude that has also dictated Rihanna’s recent maternity style (she is expecting her first child with longtime boyfriend A$AP Rocky later this spring). The bold beauty has made a point not to wear traditional pregnancy clothes and instead is wearing pieces that put her growing stomach on full display. “It's been me personally saying, I’m not going to buy maternity clothes," said Rihanna recently. “I’m not gonna buy maternity pants, jeans, dresses or [do] whatever society told me to do before.”
Ultimately, Rihanna exemplifies how good it is to be “bad.”
Beginning on International Women’s Day (March 8), the Pay With Change initiative will be front and center on SI Swim channels through daily spotlights on the women, brands and properties making a concerted effort to fight for women’s equality.