April 30th, 2014
Fashion Discussion, Featured, Rihanna
Rihanna’s Lui Magazine Photo Shoot: Is Nudity Empowering or Objectifying? (Images NSFW)
By Claire

Yesterday, Fashion Bomb Staff writer Faith drafted up a Snapshot of Rihanna’s latest photo shoot: a series of images lensed by Mario Sorrenti for men’s magazine Lui.
Although the pictures were artful and beautiful, my knee jerk reaction was to trash the post…because I didn’t see much in terms of fashion. Our favorite Bajan was basically nude.
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On top of the nudity, I felt some images were borderline vulgar. For example, a picture of a bottomless Rihanna in a modified downward dog pose, looking entreatingly at the camera with her bikini tanned buttocks stuck high in the air.
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Titillating? Indeed. Risqué? It’s Rihanna, so of course. But something about this set seemed to push past the limits of taste and decency.
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Who can deny Rihanna’s beauty? Few can. But is her unapologetic embrace of sexuality and nudity empowering or objectifying?
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Are we seeing her as a boss, fashion icon, business woman, and leader in her field? Or is she a glorified pinup girl in a high end Hustler magazine? And if it’s the latter, then are we slowly becoming desensitized to soft core pornography? Has the negative connotation associated with prostitutes, strippers, and exotic, erotic workers gone out the window because our favorite songstress has given it her ringing endorsement? Yes, women can be ladies in the streets and freaks behind closed doors. Nude pictures reserved for your significant other or even kept in the privacy of your home is fine. There’s nothing wrong with being sexual. But should the world have an all access visual pass to your breasts and behind?
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I’m far from conservative, and am totally on board with sass…as long as it’s tempered with class. If you’re a lady of substance and accomplishment, why let it all hang out? But perhaps I’m reading into this too much (Rihanna’s naked, who cares, right?). I’m sure you’ll love the flix and eat them up (and ask about her netted bikini bottoms. They’re by Palace Costume). And there is certainly a market for these types of shots. Maybe they shouldn’t live on a website about fashion, but on something that starts with an xxx vs. a www (if that even exists, but you get the point).
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In the end, are we regaling Rihanna’s feminine wiles because she’s powerful or because she’s a piece of meat? Can a woman be both respected and hyper sexualized?
And are these pictures empowering, objectifying, both…or none of the above?
What do you think?
Rihanna-Bottomless-lui magazine

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89 comments

89 Responses to “Rihanna’s Lui Magazine Photo Shoot: Is Nudity Empowering or Objectifying? (Images NSFW)”

  1. Stephanie says:

    Claire, you couldn’t have said it better… Ladies, we need to wake up and stop being ok with this objectification of the female body! I don’t wan’t my daughter to think it’s ok to be “hype” and “cool” to be naked for the world to see…

  2. Stephanie says:

    *it’s “hype” and “cool” to be naked for the world to see…

  3. vmfashionz says:

    I think this post was a waste of time! Many a model/actress has posed nude, yet Riihanna receives the backlash and is labeled a whore, When white people pose nude (see Lady GaGa) it is considered art and fashion therefore no one (not even Claire) questions her or the perception if her. When a black woman shows her breast or bares her body , is that not art? is that not creativity? It seems to me that only a white woman’s body is considered art or beauty while the black woman is labeled a slut or whore (and even worse is that it’s by mostly her own race) We should be thanking Rihanna for showing the world that a black woman’s body is just as beautiful if not more! Now I’m sure Claire if this post was about Beyonce you’d be licking her ass but that’s an entirely different subject.

  4. Claire says:

    @Vmfashionz I actually had similar thoughts regarding Beyonce: http://fashionbombdaily.com/2014/01/28/feeling-beyonces-new-raunchy-image/
    Also, pretty sure I’ve never ok’d nude images of Lady Gaga…
    It’s really not a race thing, it’s a ‘woman’ thing.

  5. vmfashionz says:

    @Claire see that’s the thing, it shouldn’t be a discussion, it’s a french magazine cover, we’re acting like the girl made a damn sextape! Naomi, Iman, Tyra have all posed nude what us the big deal?

  6. Kim D. says:

    I didn’t read the post, just looked at the pictures. When I read the comments I was like wait a minute what are we talking about here. I thought it was just a post on how beautiful and comfortable this young lady is in her own skin. I thinking I’ll just stay with that thought.

  7. Apple Pie says:

    How is posing with your tits out empowering?
    Lets be real here, Rihanna is an attention starved individual who did this for more attention, plain and simple, empowerment has ZERO to do with it. Her brain dead stans done gassed her up!
    She is no Kate Moss or Grace Jones, she is trash.

    Everyone has seen every inch of her body, she is nothing more than jerk off material.

  8. 2 cents says:

    It’s crazy to me how brainwashed this generation has become. So much so that a woman can thrust her bare buttocks into your face and you won’t blink an eye.
    There is an attack on morality and decency going on here. You are all too blind to see that.
    And have the nerve to defend this girl whose vagina is flapping in the wind.
    What’s next? Will she have a dildo in her mouth? Will we see her mastsurbating…or having sex on her Instagram? And even then we’ll defend her and say she’s comfortable in her own skin?
    WAKE UP PEOPLE!!

  9. vmfashionz says:

    @claire and I’m sorry about the offensive comments to you, I just feel so strongly about this topic and I just want black women to see and understand how beautiful they are naked or clothed, and that a black woman’s body is art just as much as their white counterparts. So I apologize Claire.

  10. Tee says:

    Only in America are we offending by nudity. I love the French culture because they see the body as a work of art and embrace it all. There were a few others that posed semi nude for this magazine such as Kate Moss and Grace Jones years ago so I don’t see why now it is such a big deal. If this was a man posing naked would we be offended? Let’s not forget the countless models that pose fully nude and semi nude for magazines, art galleries, etc. etc. Why are we so up in arms when a singer does the same? I think she looks great and if singing never worked out modeling would have been her second calling. But her some people embrace nudity and others don’t to each its own!

  11. Claire says:

    @VmFashionz No need to apologize, it’s a discussion, feel free to express your opinion! I want to hear your thoughts. xx

  12. Diamond says:

    We have seen Rihanna naked so many times, what haven’t we seen besides a full view of her lady parts, if Beyoncé did this exact shoot & poses I would be shocked but as for Rihanna it should be expected. If she wants to pose nude that’s her choice how does it effect us exactly ? Cause she is suppose to be a role model ? No that’s what kids have parents for. This whole it’s objectifying arguement is just not credible because she is a consenting adult that is seen as a sex symbol. If Rihanna starts wearing turtle necks that won’t make women salary equal to men,and it won’t make men stop seeing a women as a sex object. Their maturity, nurture and nature effects that. We have to stop giving men excuses on why they can objectify women it’s as if we don’t give them enough credit or responsibility for their ability to think. We continue to question a women because god forbid she is seen as a sex symbol omg men won’t respect us. If they do they do if they don’t they don’t she won’t make a difference. If young girls start taking nudes that’s a problem at home because I LOVE Rihanna and I’m 19 & have loved her since she began but I’m not doing that. That shoot was done to generate buzz for that magazine & guess what it worked !

  13. hmm. says:

    I think that the fact that in the USA everything having to do with the female body is sexualized makes us, as a society, look at things in a skewed sense. A lot of cultures don’t sexualize every single thing like we do because they haven’t made the female body/sex a taboo, like we have. While I definitely think that she took it there, especially with the a** up pose, I still view these shots as art. I don’t view these as either empowering or objectifying, Rih did what she wanted, and wont apologize for it. Obviously she is veryy comfortable in her skin, but I don’t think she’s advocating for everyone to start showing their T&A.

  14. Sade says:

    I don’t get it models pose nude all the time (Joan Smalls or whoever else) but when Rihanna does it, it’s a problem? She’s in her 20s and has a banging body..you only have one life to live in this world who cares! It’s society that brainwashes is especially women against each other..Trey Songz or athletes can post their chest pics out and all females are like “yassssss” -_- Is that’s not objectifying? No, because nobody cares but let a women whose in the gym 5x a week do the same it’s a problem..men just sit back and laugh at us because of convos like these..she’s a grown women and there are bigger problems in the world.

  15. Sade says:

    Oh and lol at she’s no Kate Moss she’s trash..isn’t Kate Moss an ex crackhead :( Sigh women I tell you..always against each other

  16. Anonymous says:

    @VMZ I’ve never even heard of this irrelevant magazine LMAO more excuse for this goat in heat to be seen!

    The issue is that’s all she has to stay relevant she cant go into hiding like Beyonce or anyone else between albums she’s already trying to tour w/ Eminem, has been pumped & dumped by drake & made pics dedicated to Karrueche.. its like when will the trifling shenanigans end?

  17. Stephanie says:

    For everyone that bring up the “art” and “models” arguments, there’s nothing artistic about this shoot!! When pics of the shooting came up, everyone thought it qas for a Playboy cover, not Vogue! Speakin about Vogue, let’s just compare her Brazilian Vogue cover and this shoot… Needless to say more!

  18. DM says:

    I’m disappointed. This website features editorials with nudity and there is no long commentary. But Rihanna is hyper-sexualized and a piece of meat?

  19. Anonymous says:

    This world has been so blinded this is trash at it’s best. when I first saw it on iG i was like wait what’s going on here. Why does she have to be naked her body is her own it’s not for the world to see. Anything goes these days and ppl wonder why the world is crazy.

  20. You Know says:

    Not all nudity is created equal.
    There is artful nudity, then there is porn.
    There is a distinction. I think Rihanna’s Brazilian Vogue shoot was artful.
    This is not artful. Does noone else see that last shot? How is that art?

  21. LuLu says:

    On my way to cop those shorts!

  22. Amina says:

    “Yes, women can be ladies in the streets and freaks behind closed doors. Nude pictures reserved for your significant other or even kept in the privacy of your home is fine.”

    I hear what you are saying Claire, but I have a problem with this whole “ladies in the street, freak in the sheets” thing that we demand of women. Men certainly aren’t encouraged to maintain such pretense in regards to their sexuality. It also suggests that your body, sexuality is something to hide, or be ashamed of. I appreciate that Rihanna is a freak in the “streets” ie public gaze and a freak behind closed door, if that is indeed her truth. I see this as not a attempt to be vulgar for the sake of vulgarity, but a an attempt to get us, the viewer, to challenge and examine our notions about nudity and sexuality, and how we choose to celebrate our bodies. Or perhaps shes just comfortable in her nudity and wanted to celebrate. In any event, I think what angers people is not the nudity, but the freedom and power that she possesses.

    My or your idea about nudity and nakedness may not be as liberal as Rihanna’s but I think its unfair to liken her to a whore or prostitute, because she has a different viewpoint on the matter. Shes certainly not having sex for money so lets just stop.

  23. Jihan says:

    Honestly, like whatever… she’s just naked, and I don’t think the pictures are pornographic, with the exception the downward-facing dog picture.

    America was founded by a bunch of Pilgrims, we were so stiff, prude, and straight-laced, that the British kicked them out of their country. That says a lot, considering the Brits are known for their stiff upper lips. They set the precedent for American culture which is very conservative when it comes to nudity.

    I thought the shots were really beautiful and artful. I grew up in a home of artists, and there were plenty of painted nudes. The human form is a beautiful thing.

    Nudity only seems to be an issue if a woman is involved. Why does no one get offended by a naked man? We need to stop sexualizing nudity so much, I think, and just allow bodies to be bodies. Sometimes, it is sexual, but other times, it’s not.

    Anyway, Rih has a beautiful body, and if she wants to show it off, that’s her decision. I’m not mad at her, and I’m definitely looking lol.

  24. Just Saying says:

    i brought this up on twitter yesterday! nudity can be done artistically but being face down a** up in a magazine is not art!! rihanna is turning into a one-trick pony. she’s becoming predicable and thus in her continued effort to be “edgy” she’s becoming a bore.

  25. Nay says:

    I don’t think the nudity is the issue, I think many of the people commenting are missing the point. The issue is the poses. There is nothing artistic about being nude on all fours. There are plenty of ways to embrace your body and empower women without objectifying yourself. It could have been done in a more tasteful way. However, Rihanna is risqué in nature (or rather that’s how she is portrayed) so kudos to her.
    She does have a nice body and if she feels comfortable with the way she is displayed then that’s cool. But in no way is this empowering to women, in my opinion.

  26. keama G says:

    What’s the difference between her being topless sin Vogue Brasil and these photos? the consumer, just because one was meant for fashion and one isn’t doesn’t mean it’s objectifying. Doesn’t fashion objectify women anyway?

  27. Key says:

    I’m sorry, but this has nothing to do with fashion. Yes there is something empowering about women making their own choices. But when the choices are all various ways for a woman to be objectified it’s a no go. This about building a culture where women are over sexualized and seen as objects. Even if the woman agrees it is a non choice really. It doesn’t matter who the woman is, this shoot is trashy nonsense. I appreciate your questions Claire, even if one disagrees, we can have the conversation right? If not then who? Grow up ladies, questioning concerns is a sign of maturity, ignoring things is the opposite.

  28. Jamie says:

    I can’t wait until we get to the day when people stop judging other people’s legal, personal decisions. You don’t like it? Fine, keep it movin’. Every woman doesn’t want to fit into the “proper lady” archetype that’s been demanded for so long. Some want to pose nude, and that should be ok. Some find wearing a men’s suit empowering, and that should be ok. Just let women do what they want with their bodies and if it’s not for you then don’t do it. I just wish the shaming would stop – it’s depressing.

  29. Mimi says:

    The hit it from the back pose is the only one that made me look like uhhhhh let’s keep that in house.

  30. Joelle says:

    Since when is showing off your boobs an empowering move for women? You know what’s empowering for women? Getting an education, becoming a high level exec, owning a respectable business, raising a great citizen of society, social responsibility, inventing something for society, contributing to a medical breakthrough. Rihanna will show a tit any chance she gets anyway. She is not empowering, and neither are these pics.

  31. Yomillion says:

    Objectifying. Sometimes I wonder what she is.. High class prostitute/escort, a model or musician. Anyone that doesn’t see a woman posing nude objectifying, especially when some kids see one as a possible role model, (kids what her videos and possibly really like her), then the person needs checking up.

  32. believer says:

    Noone thinks her desire was to evoke lust? To be provocative, sensual, sexual, and desirable? To create lustful thoughts and desires? Her facial expressions and poses are not done with that impure intent? For many, impure intent is welcomed, accepted, applauded. For many, the moral compass and values of modesty, sobriety, and Christianity have faded away, replaced with a do as thou wilt mentality. Although im in the minority, I believe this shoot and all of its kind are explicit, and demeaning in many ways. But as a Christian, I know that this is only the beginning.

  33. mimi says:

    @yomillion sorry but rihanna is not a role model to anybodys kids. That’s what parents are their for. She has said she has no intrest in being a role model to anybody. And I think she looks wonderful in these pictures. Love u riri

  34. Alex says:

    No one is in the position to label what is art and what isn’t. Tracey Emin’s unmade bed sold for over a million pounds, Marcel Duchamp’s picture of a urinal in 1917 is considered a work of genius. So to say Rihanna’s shoot is not artistic so on, is stupid to me.

  35. Anonymous says:

    I would just like to state that I never saw a nude picture of Diana Ross, Whitney Houston, Patti Labelle, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, or any other legends. I’m not impressed with nude photos of her, and there is nothing empowering to me about them. Perhaps if she was brought to us as a pornstar, but you are a singer, and you can’t even do that good. This nudity is merely a cover up for that fact. Some of you need to learn the meaning of empowering, anyone can take nude photos.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Ppl kill me with this equality justification of whoring. U call bombers names for feminine expression yet want women to be able to parade around naked without anything being said. Men, like women, have societal expectations. She lacks conscience due to the drugs and claims to not want to be a role model but makes basic kid friendly pop

  37. Sasha says:

    I just find it funny and trust me I hate hate comparing people but how everyone was so upset about beyonce but rihanna gets a pass because “we should expect this from her”. Married or not this is not acceptable showing your body is one thing but these photos are distasteful. It’s just really sad the way that women are treated in today’s society it is so hard to find decent men out her because women don’t respect themselves. Most women are treated like thots because of the way that some women carry themselves. Men are responsible too but that is not today’s discussion. It is safe to say that rihanna has little respect for herself based on the way she carries herself. Most of the people commenting and agreeing may be younger and I feel like in a few years you will feel differently. The way you carry yourself determines whether you get a job etc just bc rihanna does it I hope and pray that you don’t think it is okay. We are beautiful women and we should let our personality and intelligence speak for itself. These are my personal opinions and in no way am I trying to battle with the navy good day.

  38. nikki says:

    so when girls on instagram and facebook put pictures up of them in a body con dress and being nake they should call it art.MiMi sex tape is art too how she was on the that shower rod thats art as well..thats the new excuse is it art.so a girl walking the block is art.I didnt know the difference in her ig account verses her editorials because she has alot of half nude photos.Gabby(precious)pose nude i hope i hear the thats art also.

  39. JEG says:

    I enjoyed reading these comments. Everyone made valid points without stooping to name calling. I was on another blog yesterday and almost everyone on there had the same response”she’s a whore,slut, etc.” someone even said she’s going to hell. I found those comments to be immature and not thought provoking enough for me to continue reading that blog. I won’t say what side I’m on because I’m torn and see both arguments but I think this was a great discussion board on women and sexuality in this century. Kudos Claire!

  40. jeda says:

    im tired of seeing Rihanna’s naked ass (i might be the only one tho), she should do something new like idk sing a note.

  41. Hello says:

    I’m disappointed Rihanna is doing the most she has been nude before in GQ and other mags but they were a bit more tasteful, she has no respect for herself Kim Kardashian’s playboy shoot was more tastefully done than this

  42. jeda says:

    ok, that was wrong, but I’ll say this. Her oversexualized image diminishes my view of her as an artist. Maybe that’s wrong, but there’s definitely 2 sides to this argument, racism, sexism, double standards and art. I don’t think we can ever all agree on this. All I know is that this is too much, definitely pushing the limit, if not passed it. No one needs to do this, but her especially, not at her level of success.
    Blessings

  43. Layioni says:

    I think the issue isn’t that it is Rihanna posing nude. This particular shoot – for the purpose of this discussion – represents the idea of nudity being used in art. Now, everyone has the right to have their own view on what is artistic and what is not, we all perceive things differenlty, so let us stop arguing about that.

    The main issue here is, is it ever empowering for women to pose nude for art? And if it is, then it what contexts is it acceptable?

    A woman should know and carry herself like a sexy and desrirable person. She should be allowed to walk around scantily clad (and not be named a slut) if she wishes to.

    Likewise, Rihanna has every right to take such photos and feel proud of them. But does the fact that she consents to such photos mean that they are any less demeaning towards herself? Would any man look at these pictures (and other pictures alike) and think “I repsect this young woman as “? How many of you can say you respect her more from viewing these photos? I see a lot of comments here about Rihanna being “trash”. Isn’t that an opinion that developed due to the fact that you have seen numerous other hyper-sexualized images of her before? Thus hasn’t her willingness to show how”comfortable she is in her own skin” been the reason that some would call her trashy?
    When is it liberating to be naked for the camera and when is it trashy?

  44. Kenyan gal says:

    Black us Beutiful, strong color too much beauty for people to handle on point no apologies go RiRi …and the haters can go lay outside so the Sun can Tan Them from the faded skin.

  45. Different strokes for different folks says:

    There are so many things I resent about this post, I will just sum it up as plain hypocrisy.

  46. Anonymous says:

    Cant somebody take @Jihan a history book to show her American was not founded by pilgrams it was founded by the INDIANS.. smh

  47. nina says:

    Msybe it’s just me but I am really tired of seeing her naked. Leave something to the imagination ladies, it’s far sexier than putting all of your goodies out there for the world to see.

  48. MissB says:

    From the nudity to all the tattoos, to all her IG posts that reference drugs or alcohol.. Rihanna looks like a cry for help to me.
    My question is, why don’t male celebrities do nude shoots? I mean, the audience is there.. I for one would like to see what Trey Songz or Drake is working with.. But no.. I think most male celebs would draw the line at OBJECTIFYING themselves for a quick burst of attention and some headlines.
    Maybe if you’re a 40 year old with stretch marks and have the guts to pose nude I would say that’s empowering.. you’re telling people to be proud of the skin you’re in.. but RiRi’s nudes say “I NEED you to look at me, or I won’t be relevant.”

  49. c says:

    On one hand, I feel like if Riri was was going to pose like that she should have just done a Playboy or whatever the European version of Playboy is and gotten a real check….or wait, I forgot this is art.

    On the other hand I feel kind of bad looking at them b/c while RiRi has a nice little tone body…it’s not like she has a BODY, it’s not like she’s giving lots of hips, thigh, boobies, or booty. They almost look like a child taking dirty pics.

    Anything to get us talking I guess….

  50. Leelee says:

    @ c-
    “Almost looks like a child taking dirty pics”?
    Girl, bye.

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