The Black Woman as Goddess: Rihanna’s Superbowl Performance
Rihanna’s Super Bowl performance was filled with symbolism. It reminded me of a time when I used to pen culture pieces for an outlet that has since closed its doors. In these pieces, I would explore the symbolism, energy, and patterns of art, emerging leaders, and of course tech.
I’m a pattern seer and even though I am a writer, I love the communication of the non-spoken.
On February 12th, 2023 the eve of the eve of Valentine’s Day – Rihanna took the stage of Super Bowl LVII for her first live performance in six years.
An yes to the NFL’s request to headline for their famed event after turning them down 5 years prior.
Rihanna took the stage in what seemed to be a space suit, surrounded by what were analogous beings that were involved in intergalactic travel. The colors red, white, and black were the theme, symbolic of a land distant from the world power we know as the United States of America.
Rihanna in bright red, head to toe – lips, nails, jumper, glistening bralette, reminiscent of Janet’s Super Bowl performance, and of course red boots. Red boots seem to be the talk of the hour.
Her dancers were in white from head to toe, with space goggles included. Her band and backup singers in black head to toe, with similar bubble-shaped glasses.
The colors were on the same page as the beautiful performance of the Black National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing sung by Sheryl Lee Ralph.
On floating stages that rose to its height underneath a star-glistened backdrop, Rihanna stood before the world as a full embodiment of the Mother, Lover, and Queen all at once.
With more than 5 million viewers that the game itself, Rihanna stood before the world as the Goddess that is Woman, Black Woman to be exact.
She gave an entire sermon as she worked through the compilation of the 13 songs from her hit-filled repertoire including Bit*h Betta Have My Money, Turn Up the Lights, We Found Love and Umbrella.
As she shifted to sing Pour It Up, Rihanna and her outer space dancers all sat. The Queen sat for a total of 59 seconds.
This to me was such powerful imagery and the rewriting of a narrative and history of pregnant Black women having to stand up on the bus, give up their seats or work standing through long days while pregnant.
The symbolism of the right to take a seat and the self-care of resting when necessary was powerful imagery and healing on a cellular level for me as a Black woman.
She continues to embody what it looks like to sit (literally) in the totality of your full self-worth, enoughness with compassion and gratitude.
As the performance moved closer to minute 10 – she did somewhat of a wardrobe change adding a full-length red Alaïa puffer in homage to the famed fashion icon, editor, and advocate for diversity in fashion Andre Leon Tally.
She took the floating stage solo as she belted, “When the sun shines we’ll shine together, told you’ll I’ll be here forever.”
The critics clowned the overside cape, many without knowing the depth and representation of the moment.
As if this wasn’t enough – as the performance approached its last 90 seconds her dancers stood heart and arms open and facing upwards as if to receive.
Rihanna solo as her stage grew to the height of 60 feet above the ground with zero nets underneath and Rihanna dedicated the last minute and a half to Diamonds.
Shine bright like a diamond – rung throughout homes all over the world and for me it felt like a reminder to fully own your essence, power, and gifts and Shine by being who you are.
For the last moment as the camera zoomed in on Rihanna, it seemed she had an emotional moment as she sang the last, Shine bright like a Diamond.
In closing, she raised the Diamond-shaped Roc-a-Fella sign – the sign of her Jay-Z-led label.
Yet still, there is more. About 90 minutes, maybe even less after the show was over I received an email with an invitation to shop the looks from the show.
This superstar and her team had queued up an email and text campaign announcing a drop where the masses could shop the very look that covered screens across America.
I meannn…who does this besides Rihanna.
A billionaire, grammy-winner, superstar, and now mother and loving partner she continues to stay relatable and bring us into her world as if she were no different than any of us.
Her commitment to humanity is shown through every move she makes from the variety of colors in Fenty Beauty, the diversity and accessibility in styles, models, and fashion shows with Fenty x Savage, and even her own humanity as clap backs in the comments of IG with her badgirlriri charm.
It is impressive, exemplary and I’d even say attributed to her massive success in multiple ‘glass’ ceiling industries as a young woman still in her early 30s.
I am a stan and Rihanna’s Superbowl performance was everything I didn’t know I needed and healing on so many levels.
She was sexy, she glowed with the radiance of an expectant mother, she sang her heart out, reenacted what seemed like a landing of the Mother Goddess on this planet, not to mention the strategy in how the performance would drive sales were solid and business case worthy.
All hail Queen Rihanna.