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Why Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty fashion show choose to style non-Black women with braids?

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On Friday, September 24, Amazon released the third Savage x Fenty fashion show. While many people praised Rihanna’s lingerie show for celebrating all types of bodies and for its creative direction, some questioned why the show had Vanessa Hudgens and Emily Ratajkowski wear braids during their scenes.

Hudgens and Ratajkowski are neither Black women, and many believe their hairstyle is an appropriation of Black culture.

One user tweeted, “Loving everything about this show except why are white women in braids??? Rihanna?? What’s good!? I need answers.”

Another added, “Rihanna really loves putting non black ppl in braids for her fenty whatever show and then call it ‘mad ethnic right now,’” while a third wrote, “Not Rihanna letting nonblack ppl wear braids for her lil underwear line fashion show.”

TikToker who made a video review of the show even joked of the braids, “I’m not even going to say anything because I know what’s going to be said.”

Many celebrities, from Shay Mitchell to the Kardashians, have been chastised for appropriating Black culture through their hairstyles over the years. The controversy stems from the fact that non-Black celebrities are celebrated for a hairstyle created by and typically worn by Black people, whereas the Black community has not received the same accolades or credit for the look — and is sometimes even chastised for the same fashion choices. (For example, when Zendaya wore dreadlocks on the red carpet in 2015, a fashion commentator remarked that her hair appeared to smell “like weed.”)

However, what makes this situation unique is that Rihanna — a Black woman — most likely had the final creative say in how these women were styled, which is part of the reason the internet is baffled.

Rihanna, Vanessa Hudgens, and Emily Ratajkowski have not commented on the controversy.

Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage

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