I’m ecstatic for her — but it’s officially the end of an era.
Rihanna’s pregnancy reveal was all anyone talked about yesterday. Aside from the general joy of hearing good news about a person you love, it was a welcome respite from tracking Omicron’s every move, trying to ignore Joe Rogan, and powering through winter in New York. The images sold to media outlets this past weekend showed our queen aglow, in Harlem during a snow shower. She was dressed in a pink puffer with her bulbous belly out, her jeans curiously dragging on the ground. Radiant nonetheless, she walked hand in hand with boyfriend and anchor baby sperm-infuser A$AP Rocky, who appeared rightfully smitten. I was genuinely happy to see it.
But happiness wasn’t my first emotion. This is incredibly selfish and I’m embarrassed to say it out loud, but my first reaction was disappointment. A little sadness with a dash of anger. Rihanna was never a mere mortal to me. She’s a beacon of independent womanhood, the zenith of sexual freedom embodied. She’s a voluptuous, gender-irrelevant medieval dragon of desire with 100 middle fingers to flick off the world with because she was born with no fucks to give. Rihanna is the holy grail of feminine power, more than enough for the world, all on her own.
Regardless of who she was sleeping with or dating, she built her kingdom from the bottom up, as a single entity. That part taught us a lot about our own capabilities and shattered the myth that you need a counterpart to be complete. And now, she has a partner made official by the child they’ll share forever. She has a whole-ass family. It’s the end of an era.
So what does New Rihanna mean for me? What does it mean for my brethren who worship at an inner shrine to the all-powerful goddess Rih-Rih (I mostly jest here, but in all honesty I’ve always likened her to the Hindu goddess Kali — you know, the mythological baddie who chops off heads and wears a necklace made of skulls)?
This pregnancy will trigger a series of transformative events in Rihanna’s life. All that “becoming a parent doesn’t need to change you” talk is nonsense. Of course parenthood changes you, to your very core, as it should. Rihanna will now have new purpose in her life, and what she represents will inevitably change. I’m hyper aware that this is a deeply self-absorbed train of thought, but I’m not quite ready to let go of the Rihanna of 2010, of 2020, and of last week — the one who helped me garner the strength and confidence to get through break-ups, land promotions, love my thicc body when I gained weight and my thinner one when I lost it, to love unapologetically, and to tell people to fuck right off when need be.
Rational Rajji, a spritely creature who sits on my right shoulder, tells me that Rihanna is actually just Robyn Fenty from Barbados, a 33-year-old businesswoman who found a great partner and is ready to start a family. This decision has nothing to do with me, and I should applaud that woman for living her best life from the sidelines.
Rihanna is the holy grail of feminine power, more than enough for the world, all on her own.
Selfish, mildly neurotic Rajji, who sits on my other shoulder and perks up when I’ve had more than one martini, reminds me that to stay sane in this world that consistently oppresses women of color — one that tries to flatten us at every attempt to grow and thrive — we do need our idols to cling to. We need Single Rihanna to remind us that we are absolutely enough on our own.
After having a full day to process all of it (again, I’m thrilled to embrace this gentle drama, a break from COVID-obsessing), I’ve landed somewhere near the land of acceptance. Acknowledging that all relationships evolve means knowing mine and Rihanna’s is no exception. Her relationship with herself is no exception. While I don’t have any kids, I’ve witnessed close friends enjoy motherhood in a way that fills me with gratitude and love. Rihanna has given so much of herself to her Navy, and she should get to fulfill whatever her specific definition of a complete life is. And good god, that baby’s shoe game will be ferocious.
Rihanna embarking upon this new journey feels like the time my therapist broke up with me in terms of leaving with parting gifts: Single Rihanna gave me a lot. I will savor every lesson and sultry lyric. I will remember that feminine power means choosing to mother or not, choosing to partner up or not, and sometimes, walking out of a restaurant and going about your business with a glass of red wine. Because I, my good lushes, am the captain of my own destiny.
To anyone who’s been struggling like me, with this complicated news, it’s okay to mourn the loss of a real one who existed as a self-sustaining, smoldering ball of fire. It is, indeed, the end of an era. But it’s the beginning of a new one, too. Mazel, Rihanna. I hope that you set a whole new standard for retaining your identity after starting a family. And because I’m only human, I also hope the new baby drop comes with a new album drop. It’s you, after all, that taught me that I’m worth the effort.