The singer and entrepreneur is photographed for the publication’s August 2019 edition by Chinese photographer Chen Man wearing traditional Chinese dress, makeup and a hairstyle complete with mini fans.
While there is no official Harper’s Bazaar China Twitter account (as the network is not available in China), the cover shoot is circulating on Twitter, and was shared by @IAMFASHION, a runway photographer account.
Since the images were circulated, people are comparing the cover to Kim Kardashian’s ill-fated Kimono shapewear line.
Earlier this month, Kim was in hot water with Japanese people over her not-quite-eponymous launch.
The row was escalated to the government of Japan, with Kim ultimately vowing to change her brand name.
Cultural appropriation seems to be an accusation regularly thrown at Kim and her sisters – think Kim’s row over her so-called “Bo Derek” braids, and the backlash surrounding Kendall Jenner’s “afro” on the cover of US Vogue.
What’s more, Khloe Kardashian was accused of cultural appropriation after wearing a Diana Ross inspired wig.
But is Rihanna guilty of the same culturally insensitive behaviour?
Some people think so, and suggesting there’s a “double standard” at play.
However, others are adamant that Rihanna’s cover is a different situation altogether compared to the Kardashian sisters’ recent rows.
Cultural appropriation is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as: “A term used to describe the taking over of creative or artistic forms, themes, or practices by one cultural group from another. It is in general used to describe Western appropriations of non‐Western or non‐white forms, and carries connotations of exploitation and dominance.”
So is this what Rihanna has done?
Some people are claiming the fact that Rihanna is posing on a Chinese publication styled by people of its culture means she is not, in fact, appropriating it – but instead it is an example of “cultural appreciation”.
However, Rihanna hasn’t always steered clear of controversy. Earlier this year, some fans were offended by her choice to name one of her Fenty Beauty highlighters “Geisha Chic”.