Yesterday, the office sentiment on Rihanna’s AMA doobie was a resounding “What the hell?” I was the Lone Ranger who saw her wrapped and bobbied hair and thought, “Is that a…Yup, it is—and it’s awesome.” Before I explain why, full disclosure: I am a member of the Navy. I find Rihanna’s music delightful and on occasion, emotive. But her style is what has really hooked me. She’s bold and edgy, and at turns classy—and mostly, it works. I love her impromptu photo shoots and flamboyant sexuality. I love the juxtaposition of her glamour and her realness. She’s on African safari rocking flawless hair and a bright red lip—but don’t even think about saying something sideways on her Instagram because you just might get checked. She breaks the rules in a way that maybe I’d like to. My RiRi love is in the vein of all celebrity crushes. For example, I’m sure Real Life Ryan Gosling isn’t the ukulele-playing-love-bug-cum-urban-super-hero (He saves Brits! He breaks up street fights!) he is in my mind, but who cares? The fun is in the fantasy. And that’s the way I see Rihanna. She’s my swag super hero—completely unabashed. Her AMA doobie was an expression of that fearlessness. A look entirely intended to ruffle feathers. She was doing a thing: A thumbing-her-nose-at-establishment thing. And simply put, she looked Damn Cool.
Now, a caveat: I will not be rocking a doobie (And hope I don’t see too many Rihanna Ripoffs cruising around my neighborhood in Harlem). I spend roughly four weeks of my life every year completely immersed in beauty trends. Fashion Week backstage is all about innovation and avant-garde expression. Last season, for instance, I saw beautiful gilded eyebrows at Dior and thought amazing, gorgeous, inventive, arresting. But does that mean I’ll wear them? Nope, not gonna happen. Think of Rihanna’s doobie as golden eyebrows. She took a style reserved for our beauty shops and our bedrooms and put it on center stage, and I loved that. But rocking it to the ESSENCE offices or to a dinner with friends would be taking the look out of its glitteringly surreal context. It just wouldn’t fit. Rihanna’s a rock star. I, unfortunately, am not.