Everybody on the internet is flipping out over a recent Instagram photo posted by superstar Rihanna that appears to be photoshopped (and by “everybody on the internet,” I mean Black Twitter because—aside from the Beyhive and The Root—the internet is basically composed of my mama’s Facebook page, porn and pasty white dudes on Reddit arguing about who would win in a battle of 300 Jedi vs. 3,000 Roman soldiers).
According to the New York Post, on Tuesday, RiRi posted this picture of her outfit from the Crop Over Festival Kadooment Parade in Barbados:
Dope, right? I thought so. Rihanna had just recently shut down haters trying to fat-shame her for her recent weight gain by posting a video of her buying Cheetos, following it up with this meme:
Anyway, people soon noticed that the picture might have been altered, encapsulated in a beautiful Shakespearean response by one savvy black tweeter who asked, “Why does her thumb got two nails?” The idea that Rihanna would share a photoshopped picture sparked intense debate.
Some say it’s hypocritical for her to spread the message of body positivity and empowerment while altering the way her own body is perceived. Others say she has the right to do what she wants to with her pictures and how she wants to be seen.
I, however, believe in the power of self-determination first espoused by the Boston philosopher Robert Barisford Brown when he said in his magnum opus, “It’s my prerogative.”
Rihanna can photoshop whatever the hell she wants to because:
1. She’s Rihanna. And you’re not. Do you even have an Instagram account? You know how you take 39,038 pics just to get one good photo to post on the ’gram? Well, RiRi ain’t got time for all that bullshit. She’s got shit to do, like shining bright like a diamond. Plus, you have 907 followers. Maybe 123 of them will see your pic when you post it. You did all that work for 62 likes.
Rihanna has 55 million followers.
2. You know you want it, too. If I were as rich and famous as Rihanna, I’d have my whole-ass life photoshopped. I’d have a team of black artists with great graphic-design skills make my seventh-grade photo look like my face wasn’t made of Nestle Crunch. I might even tell them to turn my high-top fade into a low Caesar.
3. Because she’s not fat. You’re probably right about Rihanna’s weight gain. She’s been famous since she was 15, so, like a normal human being’s, her body is finally filling out. She’s still beautiful, though. The only person who wants a woman to look like she did when she was 15 is a 14-year-old ...
... and R. Kelly.
4. It doesn’t even matter. Can she still sing? Can she still dance? OK, then.
5. Maybe she actually has two thumbs. I grew up with a guy named Randy Harvest (not his real name) who had two thumbs, and I’ll be honest—I was a little jealous of him. He handled the basketball like a dark-skinned Steph Curry, and he also played the guitar and the piano (OK, Randy Harvest was actually his real name. I asked him if I could use it in this article).
He gave me three thumbs up.
6. Patriarchy. No, I’m not about to start a feminist rant, but have you seen how people debate Jay-Z’s body? Have you seen the tweets about Kendrick Lamar’s belly in his Instagram pics? Do you remember when they started calling Ne-Yo “fat”?
7. If that was Beyoncé ... I really don’t have anything to say here. I just like it when Beyoncé fans and Rihanna fans fight.
8. No one cares. Stop right now and go ask three men: If they got a chance to holla at Ri, would they change their minds if they found out she photoshopped an Instagram post? Now ask the three women nearest you if Rihanna is beautiful. Now ask three Rihanna fans if the new revelations make her songs sound worse. I’ll wait ...
No, I won’t. We already know the answer.
9. We all photoshop. Before taking a photo, I make sure I suck in my stomach, check the lighting and tilt my bald head so that the glare of the flash won’t make me look fat, and I never take a picture with people taller than me. Women wear pants that accentuate their curves. They buy what an ex called “titty-boosting bras.” We add dog ears and cat whiskers on Snapchat. (I don’t use Snapchat, and I confess that after seeing so many social media photos, for months I thought there was a real trend where women started wearing flower halos around their heads. I didn’t know it was a Snapchat filter.)
Not to mention the filters that men use. Loose T-shirts hide our beer bellies. Beards are in because they can make us ugly niggas look halfway presentable. Have you ever seen LL Cool J without his hat? He should change his name to LL Cool JBOWHWABCOAK (Ladies Love Cool James but Only When He’s Wearing a Baseball Cap or a Kangol).
Very Smart Brotha Damon Young said during one of The Root’s Google Hangouts on black masculinity that he wears Timberlands to give him the official “tall man height” of 6 feet 2 inches, The last time I hung out with him, he had on sneakers, but I couldn’t take a picture with him because he’s taller than I am.
10. Because she can. She made a song with Beyoncé. And Jay-Z. And Kanye. And Lil Wayne. And Kendrick Lamar. Because she’s so goddamn cool, she can ride a Jet Ski like this:
Because she can roll a blunt:
Because she’s a “bad bitch.” Because she’s partying on a Caribbean island and you’re on the internet reading about her. Because she’s a young, talented millionaire. Because she “work, work, work, work, work. Eugevowhrafsdovo, work, work, work, work, work ... ” Because she’s a black woman.
Because she’s Rih-fucking-anna.