We've all been told we resemble one celebrity or another, but rarely does that likeness lead to a thriving modeling career like it has in the case of Renee Kujur. Born in Chhattisgarh, India, and now based in New Delhi, the 23-year-old has been booking runway shows and photo shoots more than ever now that people have noticed she's basically Rihanna's doppelgänger. “I laughed off the Rihanna part. But soon, everyone was saying the same thing,” she told the Hindustan Times. However, there's a very disturbing reason Kujur wasn't getting more modeling work before photographers and clients noticed her resemblance to the music and makeup mogul.
Kujur recalled to the Hindustan Times how a makeup artist once said, "Sundar ladki ka make-up toh koi bhi kar sakta hai [Anyone can do the make-up for a beautiful girl]. The real challenge is to make a dark girl look good, and I’ve done it." It's not an uncommon outlook on beauty in India, where women with darker skin are often shamed into using skin-lightening creams in order to fit an antiquated beauty standard.
Kujur believes she initially wasn't booking many jobs due to her darker skin, and when she did book shoots, she'd find that her skin would be Photoshopped to look lighter. Once the resemblance to one of the most famous women in the world was noticed and widely agreed upon, however, things changed. "With such a deep-rooted prejudice in people’s mind, it would’ve been very tough to get work. The Rihanna factor turned out to be a blessing," explained Kujur, who has even made her Instagram handle @badgalrene as a nod to Rihanna's, @badgalriri. "Photographers would tell their clients that I resemble Rihanna. That way, it was easier to convince them. No one could deny that Rihanna was beautiful."
It's unfortunate that it takes the popularity of a celebrity to chip away at this kind of discrimination, but Kujur is thankful for what difference it does make in both her career and in wider perceptions of beauty in India. "Rihanna has already convinced people that she’s sexy and beautiful, and the West is crazy about her. If I resemble her, how can I be unattractive? That’s how our mind works. I don’t know where I would’ve landed without Rihanna," Kujur said. "Few are willing to bend rules. For most people, beauty strictly means fair skin. It’ll take time to rewrite norms, but I’m happy that I’m part of the change."
More on Rihanna:
- Rihanna Wore All Fenty Beauty Makeup to the Ocean's 8 Premiere
- Rihanna Recorded a Video of Her Makeup Routine
- Rihanna Wears Highlighter on Her Ears
Makeup artist Priscilla Ono breaks down Rihanna's beauty's looks: