In an era when every pop star is a provocateur, few are as consistently bewitching as Rihanna. She’s sensual without being self-serious and rebellious without being a poseur. She’s tough (“like bra bra bra”) but soft (“funny you’re the broken one but I’m the only one that needing saving…”) And remember when she posted that photo montage of her rolling a fat blunt on the head of her bodyguard? That was crazy.
The first time Rihanna jumped from A Girl Like Me to a Good Girl Gone Bad was in the “Umbrella” video, where she cut her hair and painted her naked body silver. Since then, she has been consistently pushing boundaries of pop acceptability, most recently lying naked, bloodied, and stoned in a box full of paper money.
Whatever the case, Rihanna’s instagram scrolls like a virtual exhibit in making your publicist’s hair go gray. So if you’re ready, willing, and eager, keep reading for the 12 most provocative Rihanna selfies.
12 VictoRihanna’s Secret
Last photo established Rihanna’s preference for straps and garters, and this picture really brought it home. In it, she lies splayed on a black (casting) couch, with no bra and a blunt in her beak. In Rihanna’s world, this is the proper way to get prepared for a performance at the widely viewed Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Granted, Victoria’s Secret sells sex and sultriness in adorable pink bags, so rolling around on cowhide doing drugs is probably a better way of getting prepared than doing voice check in sweatpants.
11 S&M RiRi
In this picture, Rihanna shouts out to Prada for sending her fabulous custom boots. The only thing is that Prada probably intended them to be worn with a full ensemble, not a thong and some hair extensions. This is just one of many pictures in which Rihanna’s admittedly fantastic behind is hanging out. She probably trains for like 2 hours a day and eats exclusively canned tuna fish and steamed vegetables, so it’s no wonder that she’d want some recognition for her hard work.
10 SuperSmoker RiRi
One of the few provocative pictures of Rihanna not featuring her attractive naked body, this one is just a picture of Rihanna’s face. The interesting (re: provocative) thing about it is the white smoke (the typical color of blunt smoke) billow out of her mouth and over her finger, the very same finger that has her “Shh” tattoo. It’s almost as though this picture is daring someone to tell on her, it not only being an illegal or at least illicit activity, but also the message on the finger which is held up as both a come hither beckon and a call to silence.
9 Tribal RiRi
The interesting thing about tattoos is that they’ve clung to their tribal connotations in both message and medium. Up until recently, the tribal tattoo was one of the hottest sellers in the artist’s lookbook, and parents didn’t weren’t opposed to their children getting tattoos simply because they were painful… This picture of Rihanna smacks of tribalism: she has tattoos on her wrist, she’s on a plank reminiscent of the Native American canoe, and her swimwear looks like a loincloth, barely covering her bountiful body. The finishing touch though is the gold belt around her waist, which subconsciously reminds the viewer of tales of El Dorado, the South American gold city of lore (she posted the picture in Brazil.)
8 Cutout RiRi
In dresses, cutouts are often used to create the optical illusion of a whittled waist. What Rihanna has done is this picture is create the same optical illusion, but with the photonegative. She has put fabric where the cutout would typically appear, and has laid everything else bare. The black of her bathing suit is indistinguishable from the black of the nighttime scenery behind her, and her waist (compounded by the alluring plumpness of her butt) looks tantalizingly small. Rihanna throws her legendary smirk over one shoulder, at once aware and coyly ignorant of how she has presented the photo.
7 Wildlife RiRi
Dressed in all black, (casual sneakers, booty shorts, a spaghetti strap tank top and an unseasonal black beanie), Rihanna straddles a lion statue outside of what appears to be an expensive hotel. Here, the interesting thing is the potential for observation of her model misbehavior. Windows stretch up beyond the frame of the photo. It is unlikely that Rihanna would have arrived without fanfare, i.e. a motorcade of Lincoln Towncars with her various bodyguards and best judies. Hearing the rumbling of engines, people would have rushed to the window to see what was going on and spotted Rihanna striking this pose.
6 Booty Twerkin’ RiRi
It’s hard to tell what’s going in the background of this picture. It appears to be a music festival of some sort, what with the sexy outfit but daring accessories. What’s clear is that Rihanna is chummy with her company, because the woman has no qualm putting her hand on Rihanna’s shapely tush. A tush that, by the way, Rihanna not only covers with a daring red bikini, but also with fishnet stockings, always a dangerously sexy choice (and ones that in traditional lore imply sex work…).
5 Silhouette RiRi
Much like the picture in #8, here again Rihanna plays with knowledge gaps. Although you can perceive the bathing suit just a tad, at first glance it looks as though she’s completely naked in this picture. And if so, why? Is she decompressing in some lover’s tropical hideaway? Is he (or she?) taking the picture? Is her head flung back in passion or exhaustion, or in the exhaustion that follows passion? The leaves of the surrounding trees lick at her, but she’s as tantalizingly out of reach to them as she is to us…
4 Denim Floss RiRi
Never has a butt looked as high, as perky, or as paranormally shiny as Rihanna’s does in this picture. Framed by a denim thong and accented by red frilly underwear, Rihanna’s backside looks pretty much as appetizing as any butt is ever going to look. And how does the rest of her look? We have no idea because none of it is in the picture. This outfit, part of her “Pour it Up” video, is certainly memorable, and obviously Rihanna thought so because it was apparently all that mattered. And interesting thing is the sort of gem pendant at the top of frame, drawing the viewer’s attention upward to wonder what lies beyond the immortalized scope…
3 MaRiRi Antoinette
In the previous picture, Rihanna posted a picture of just a chunk of this very same outfit. We recognize the denim thong and the flash of red. Here is what accompanied it just outside the frame: black glasses, elbow-high latex gloves, a curled blond wig, a gilded, bejeweled bra, and toweringly high-heeled shoes. In this picture, Rihanna gives her own take on Marie Antoinette, whose frosted hair and luscious monarchy has made her an enduring fashion icon. Except for Rihanna has turned Marie Antoinette into a stripper, who twerks off her throne into a geyser of steaming water.
2 Carnival RiRi
The interesting thing about this picture is the absolute contrast it creates. For one, there is Rihanna, a creature of the night; she is glamorous, made-up, wearing jewels, seducing. These are not daytime activities, like working hard and eating oatmeal. But then at the same time, she’s in a highly daytime-coded space: the minivan (identifiable by the perma-sealed windows, the hoisting handle, and the backseat captain’s chairs), where daylight pours in and mothers take their raucous sons to soccer practice. Rihanna’s bold willingness to do night in the day is both exciting and, yes, provocative.
Normally, you don’t see a ‘sexy’ picture of a woman where her bottom is uncovered and her top is. But in this picture, Rihanna’s top half is covered up (relatively) by a bra, her arm, and decadent fur, but her impossibly toned bottom half is totally naked and sitting pressed on a cold floor. She sips wine coyly in a room full of expensive fabrics and materials: leather, fur, suede, and hardwood. A fire flares in the fireplace, leading us to wonder whether Rihanna is naked in a cold room, with goosepimpled skin begging to have something pressed against it, or naked in a hot room, sweating very slightly…