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Rihanna’s made it pretty clear that she has no interest in being anyone’s role model. She rekindled her romance with the man who physically abused her. Last year, she told USA Today, “I can’t really say I’m a role model. I’m not perfect. I’m not trying to sell that.” The year before, she replied to a Daily Mail article shaming her gun tattoos, long nails, and bad girl image with a statement that included, “’Role Model’ is not a position or title that I have ever campaigned for, so chill wit dat!”
Which, fine, you don’t have to be a role model. But there’s no way Rihanna, with her more than 21 million Instagram followers, isn’t aware of the influence she yields over little girls (and probably plenty of teenage boys too). So naming her forthcoming fashion brand $CHOOL KIlls is probably a bad idea. Just because she went Ke$ha and subbed her ‘s’ for a $ doesn’t make it OK.
Grazia reports that the 27-year-old pop star’s company, Roraj Trade, LLC, filed a patent application for $CHOOL KIlls to make ‘leather products’ and 'clothing products.’ A source tells the British magazine it “will be an accessories range covering everything from tote bags to purses, and later on, fashion.”
Rihanna shows off her gun tattoo on the beach. Photo: Corbis
Which is all fantastic. Rihanna loves fashion and it loves her back. Last year she won the CFDA’s Fashion Icon Award, she’s the creative director of Puma, the face of Dior, and has championed a string of emerging designers. It’s about time she launched her own collection, but it might also be time to think about the power she wields.
America has a violence problem. Everytown for Gun Safety defines a school shooting as “when a firearm was discharged inside a school building or on school or campus grounds, as documented in publicly reported news accounts. This includes assaults, homicides, suicides, and accidental shootings.” By that measure, there were 60 in 2014, already 28 in 2015, which should make your stomach turn.
Its one thing for America’s favorite singer to get a gun tattooed on her body, another to build a consumer brand celebrating one of the country’s biggest problems.
We’ve reached out to Rihanna for comment and will update as soon as we hear back.