There is no denying that most people see Rihanna as a complete goddess: a singer, a songwriter, an occasional actress, a compelling performer, a savvy businesswoman, a visionary designer, and just an empowering, incredible woman altogether. There aren’t many things she can’t do and there aren’t many milestones she hasn’t reached.
You’d think that she wouldn’t need to continue building her brand or expand her line of businesses or keep making music, but someone like Rihanna knows all too well that the hustle never ends. The Barbados-raised singer was thrust into the world of music, fame, and fashion at a mere age of fifteen and it’s only been an upward climb since then. But it hasn’t been easy.
In recent years, Rihanna has taken on the status of a cult-like figure, someone whose movements, mannerisms, fashion and celebrity are zealously admired, followed and obsessed over by her legion of fans. She’s an icon through and through, and people can’t look away. The power of her celebrity lives through in each and every one of her entrepreneur ventures, whether it is her make-up brand Fenty Beauty or her luxury lingerie brand Savage x Fenty or her upcoming fashion hour, Fenty Maison.
Yet underneath the glamour and riches lies a woman who is as down-to-earth and insecure and casual as the rest of us. In a new interview, she gets real about what matters to her down the line, how she is able to motivate herself to continue building her empire, and what drives her to keep working hard.
Rihanna reveals her true feelings regarding motherhood
It’s no secret that most women are continually burdened with the expectations of becoming mothers. Many argue that it’s in our nature — to be nurturing, to be tender, and to create life. What’s worse is that traditions have made it so that women usually require men in their lives to help them raise children. So the pure, potentially liberating experience of motherhood is often unnecessarily entangled with romantic relationships, and so come the boyfriends, the husbands, and the rest of patriarchy.
Seeing how Rihanna is so committed to growing her business, many might assume that she is a so-called ‘career woman’ who has no interest in getting married or having a family. But Rihanna makes it very clear in her Vogue interview that she intends on being a mother in the next ten years, with or without a man.
Just recently, Rihanna ended her relationship with businessman Hassan Jameel. The singer turned thirty-two this year and she would be well into her forties ten years later. No one can be certain about the future but Rihanna is dead sure.
I’ll have kids — three or four of ‘em.
Rihanna to Vogue UK
However, she also reveals that she’s ready to have them with or without a man by her side. Looking back at her past, her perspective comes with no surprise.
Rihanna has unfortunately experienced domestic abuse not once but twice–as a witness and a victim. Here’s why her outlook on motherhood should inspire us all.
Rihanna grew up seeing her mother being abused
Her strong desire to become a mother should also be attributed to the love and respect she holds for her own mother, Monica. Rihanna’s mother was a Guyanese immigrant in Barbados and as a result, was often treated harshly due to the negative stereotypes surrounding immigrants. It’s one of the reasons why Rihanna chooses to use her platform to build awareness about issues that are dear and close to her heart.
More so than that, Rihanna also witnessed her mother being subjected to physical abuse by her own father. During an ABC interview, she revealed that she grew up to her mother being regularly beaten by her father.
Her father, Ronald Fenty, was a crack-cocaine addict and eventually, the abuse became too much. When she was only 14-years old, Rihanna’s parents divorced. While it may have kept her father away from the family, they were now thrown into a new mode of life.
As a single mother, Monica was left to work harder to support her children. “My mom was a single mom, so she worked a lot. She was really never home – I mean, she was but it would be after work, late at night,” Rihanna told The Guardian.
As a result of her mother’s schedule, Rihanna stepped in to take care of her youngest brother, Rajad. Monica’s absence was suddenly felt.
I would take care of him. He was my best friend. He thought I was his mom!
Rihanna to The Guardian
Rihanna took it upon herself to protect her mother through thick and thin. So much so that the singer has revealed that her Fenty collection is basically a love letter to her mother.
Monica taught her what it was like to grow up with love and what it was like to thrive and succeed without the help of a man. To the Barbadian singer, Monica is “one of the strongest women I know, if not the strongest.”
If her mother could do it and raise someone as diligent and kind as Rihanna, then who’s to say that Rihanna herself can’t be a phenomenal, loving single mother.
Coming to terms with an abusive father
Despite her father’s abusive presence in the Fenty family home, Rihanna admits that there is a difficulty in coming to terms with it. After all, he was still her father and her memories with him were not all negative ones. She recalls “learning to swim, learning how to ride my bike, and it’s funny, because most of these times were with my dad”.
In fact, she has learned one important thing along the way, a piece of wisdom from a friend. Yes, she had come to hate her dad at one point but it didn’t have to stay that way forever.
Then, one of my school friends, who I was very close to, she knew, and she always used to say, ‘You can’t hate your father’, that you have to love him, at the end of the day, because he’s your father. So I listened, as much as it took out of me.
Rihanna to The Guardian
Their relationship is likely to remain complicated but Rihanna has admitted to Oprah, “He taught me everything. As awful as he was to my mom at times, it didn’t compare to how great he was as a father.”
Rihanna is a survivor of abuse herself
Many are going to recall that Rihanna herself was physically assaulted by her ex-boyfriend Chris Brown back in 2009, an incident that shocked their fans to the core and have gone to define their respective identities. But Rihanna overcame that tragedy with class and confidence. She’d said at the time that the assault force to take charge of the narrative and make changes in her life.
In November 2015, she revealed to Vanity Fair that her ordeal with Chris Brown left her with uncertainty when it comes to relationships.
And I get fearful of relationships because I feel guilty about wanting someone to be completely faithful and loyal, when I can’t even give them 10 percent of the attention that they need. It’s just the reality of my time, my life, my schedule.
Rihanna to Vanity Fair
Indeed, while she has been in relationships since then, Rihanna has now gone back to what seemed the default for her: a life dedicated to innovating and constantly outdoing herself. However, these past experiences have not turned her off the thought of having a family…her definition and criteria are just different.
What her past taught her about motherhood
Rihanna has lived through some traumatic events and worse, she’s had to do some of it under the media’s scrutiny. The process of healing and moving on has always been obstructed by the public’s interest in her life. However, if there is one thing we can deduce from her powerful trajectory, it’s that she only became stronger.
Her childhood witnessing her father’s abuse towards her mother and having to become a mother figure to her youngest brother have taught her to look at the concept of family differently. As she told Vogue, motherhood or parenthood is much simpler than we make it out to be.
I feel like society makes me want to feel like, ‘Oh, you got it wrong…’ They diminish you as a mother if there’s not a dad in your kids’ lives. But the only thing that matters is happiness, that’s the only healthy relationship between a parent and a child. That’s the only thing that can raise a child truly, is love.”
Rihanna in Vogue UK
Rather than wait for the right man, or abide by societal expectations of motherhood, Rihanna boils it down to what she thinks is important: the love between a parent and a child. When she’ll be ready, this bond would be unbreakable and unchallenged by others. Reframing motherhood as her own choice and decision, she once again reaffirms her agency in a world that likes to obstruct women at every turn.
Her work ethic remains unmatched for a reason
At this point in her career, Rihanna could easily take a couple of years off and nobody would bat an eye. The woman has worked too hard for too long, and she absolutely deserves a break. But you can’t ask someone to abandon their work ethic out of nowhere. Such is the case with Rihanna, who refuses to slow down on her business operations and instead intends on adding more companies to her brand Fenty Maisons and Fenty Skincare. Her ninth studio album R9 is also in the cards and she could be dropping it anytime soon.
So that begs the question: at what point does the hustle end, and more significant, should it really ever end? Rihanna’s response is simple: she is working hard now so she doesn’t have to in the future. She makes sure that her team of employees follow the same values of her work-life balance, that is, both work and life are two sides of the same coin. Working hard continuously is a lesson that’s trotted out by many individuals but Rihanna is one of the few that actually embodies the message.
We will work and work and work. And then we get to this plateau and we’re like, ‘OK, we’re either going to bed or we could keep working.
Rihanna in Vogue UK
Furthermore, she ensures that work actually holds meaning for the community, that it is representing styles and faces and individuals that have otherwise been marginalized by mainstream society. Some of the stills from her first collection depict young black women, posing with natural hair, donned in Afrocentric clothing — images that nail down why it matters so much that Rihanna is one of the few black women leading her own company. She wants to encourage folks to “buy black” and promote African identity on a level that hasn’t been done before.
The significance of going after what you want
To be like Rihanna is not a piece of cake; she’s struggled, endured, and persevered all her life. But what sets her apart is not simply her work ethic or her incredible business acumen, it’s her ability to unabashedly reach for the stars. Whether you want money or fame or respect or parenthood, there is a certain amount of freedom to dedicating your entire life to achieving that objective.
More so, it’s the attitude that’s going to drive you to meet those demands. Rihanna doesn’t say, “I want to be a mother,”; she says, “I am going to become a mother,” One is a wish, the other is a declaration. If you’re bold enough to express with certainty that you are going to become someone, then you already have the strength you need.
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