rihanna is not here for diversity as a "marketing tool"

She responded to a fan DM about Fenty Beauty and transgender representation.

by Hannah Ongley
Dec 1 2017, 4:24pm

Photography via Getty Images

When “Rihanna invented makeup” goes from being a funny meme to a truism endorsed by TIME magazine, you know your brand is onto something.

“It was also important that every woman felt included in this brand,” Rihanna told TIME after Fenty Beauty was named Invention of the Year alongside personal robots and the Amazon Echo. “We are all so different, with our own unique skin tones, so we started with the 40 foundation shades out the gate.”

Fenty foundation’s radical shade range is catering to fans who have rarely been able to wear makeup let alone work it. Fenty campaigns have, from liftoff, featured diverse women including Slick Woods, Halima Aden, Paloma Elsesser, and Duckie Thot. Fenty lipstick is even making the case for a men’s beauty line.

If there’s proof that Rihanna’s approach to diversity is 100% pure, it’s to be found in her response to a fan who brought up the representation of trans women. Rihanna’s track record of replying to fan DMs is impeccable, and she didn’t disappoint, slamming token diversity that treats trans (and black) women as "convenient marketing tools."

"I've had the pleasure of working with many gifted trans women throughout the years, but I don't go around doing trans castings!” Rihanna wrote. “Just like I don't do straight non trans women castings! I respect all women, and whether they're trans or not is none of my business!"

She continued, "It's personal and some trans women are more comfortable being open about it than others, so I have to respect that as a woman myself! I don't think it's fair that a trans woman, or man, be used as a convenient marketing tool! Too often do I see companies doing this to trans and black women alike! There's always just that one spot in the campaign for the token 'we look mad diverse' girl/guy! It's sad.”

Trans women are still massively underrepresented in makeup campaigns. It was only two years ago that Andreja Pejic became the first transgender model to lead a campaign for a big beauty brand. It was only three months ago that a trans model was unceremoniously fired by L’Oréal over an honest Facebook post about racism. Munroe Bergdorf was later hired to front Illamasqua's new campaign, but if she's looking for more beauty work next season, Twitter has ideas.