Fug the Cover: Rihanna

In case you’re wondering, I just spent several minutes staring at Rihanna’s ass so that I could tell you this: Those “shorts” are basically chain-mail loincloth/panties, and I am scared just thinking about how carefully she had to walk around set in order to avoid flashing, like, the lighting dude all her business. While I was examining them, it also came to my attention that her tank top has holes in it, like it was recently attacked by particularly cranky moths or was accidentally washed with some super sharp rocks.

And look. I get it. It’s Rolling Stone. They love nothing more than taking a young woman and rendering her basically or literally pantsless — witness Gaga and Anna Paquin (although that was mass-scale nudity at its weirdest) and Gaga again and Britney and the girls of The Hills and  Xtina and Britney again and Rosario Dawson and Rose McGowan and Megan Fox and Miranda Kerr and Fergie and Jessica Simpson (bonus! She’s also CLEANING!) and Katy Perry and Jennifer Aniston and that’s just what I found in a ten minute Google search — because why be Rolling Stone when you can be Maxim? It’s not like any of those women are successful or interesting or have any other talents or stories to tell or anything else to offer a reader beyond their bods. I mean, who even knows how to BEGIN to create an attractive or sexy or alluring or intriguing cover of a woman who isn’t as obviously tarted up as possible? That’s as elusive as the Yeti — don’t tell any of the other 142,499 magazines in the world who’ve done otherwise. And CLEARLY the most interesting thing that’s happened to Rihanna in the last several years is how much she’s been SEXTING and how she has a tendency towards pantlessness in her own self-directed hours. And God knows, there’s nothing more appropriate than juxtaposing a CHAIN-MAIL LOIN-PANTY with the headline “How US Soldiers in Afghanistan Murdered Innocent Civilians for Sport.” YES THAT IS VERY TONALLY APPROPRIATE. CHAIN-MAIL LOIN-PANTIES FOR ALL!

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Comments (114):

  1. jerkygirl


  2. annie

    You nailed it. Chain-mail-nailed it.

  3. that girl

    You know it’s bad when a regular ole pair of Daisy Dukes would be vastly superior to these things.

  4. Lindy

    If women keep participating in their objectification, it is never going to end. That cover is just really sad.

  5. annie

    and isn’t that the Levi’s pocket stitching? Levi’s? Really?

  6. Agent Scully

    That aritcle “Kill Team” by Mark Boal? It is, hands down, the most disturbing thing I have ever read. Ever. Rolling Stone has proved its high standard of journalism repeatedly, with Matt Taibbi, Michael Hastings and now Mark Boal. Putting Rhianna in chain mail shorts on the cover with such a powerful article? Huge mistake. (It’s fugly and disappointing.)

  7. Jo

    Wait, this business is alien to me but I was under the impression the said girls have a say on the shape of a cover session. No?

    So as much as I agree with everything you said (and I DO, like, totally) it’s also up to the said girls to say ‘i’ll take my pants off if you take yours first, you sleezy moron’. And yet they seem happy to agree. Vicious circle of supply and demand.

  8. Clara

    Wouldn’t that chain mail grab at one’s tender bits? Ouch. I too am baffled and disapointed by all the short shorts and boobies. My nine year old thinks it’s cool to wear a micro-mini with platforms and a tube top. That’s what Barbie is wearing! Gack.

  9. Laura

    She’s really just becoming more and more unattractive, the more tarty she becomes. At this point, she just looks like a cheap hooker. How is that attractive, again? Oh wait, it’s not. At all.

    And speaking of cheap hookers and unattractiveness, I find it ironic that the Fug Ladies have American Apparel advertising on the Fug website, when American Apparel’s adverts are nothing but bad styling and tarted-up, unattractive models, to wit: extreme Fugishness. Maybe a switch is in order?

  10. Laura

    Lindy, you’re right. And Jessica, you’re also so right.

    Agent Scully, that’s a good point!

    May I simply interject that a) this is very disappointing- I thought RiRi had a higher opinion of her worth than that, b) she already has edge to her look, and c) your previous point about the RS covers lately.

    Though, I must admit, her hair looks lovely.

  11. deva

    Jessica, I love you, pls marry me.

  12. Rebecca


  13. AmyK

    Laura — I don’t think the Fug ladies have control over the side adverts. I also noticed that most of these advertisements tend to change depending on whose computer you’re on. I have a bunch of Cole Haan advertisements on my side bar, and one random pajama company one (LOL), which I assume is because the analytics of the advertising program decided that because I look at a lot of handbags and clothes, I must be into Cole Haan (I am) and PJs (not so much). I imagine that if you’ve looked at clothing retailers on your computer, maybe that’s why AA ads are showing up? But I agree — American Apparel ads? FUGLY.

  14. Meg

    She may have some say in the styling of the cover. And she has the right to say “no.” But probably it was this, or no cover. She may have posed in various business suits and then this outfit as a one-off and this is the photo that the editor chooses. It’s probably more important to Rhianna and her team to be on the cover of Rolling Stone than what she is wearing on the cover. And Rolling Stone is exploiting that.

  15. Christy Hardin Smith

    Bravo, Jessica. Just…bravo.

  16. Candy

    If I concentrate on from the waist up, she looks quite lovely. But I just can’t stop staring at her ass! But sex sells & everyone knows it.

  17. Jill

    Somehow I don’t think Rihanna minded flashing all of her lady-bits to anyone participating in the photo shoot.

    And didn’t Ms. Spears already have a “comeback”?

  18. TonyG

    Isn’t this kind of tame/lame for Rihanna? This could have been a lot worse, which is, I guess a critique of Rihanna. Check out that Rihanna archive. Just sayin’ . Showing booty is so passe, especially in the world of youth-oriented R&B/pop/Hhip-hop world she inhabits. There are some who are classy, but they tend to be over 30. I think this will change as she gets older.

  19. Emily

    I’m also tired of that over-the-top hair.

  20. Sherri

    You’ve caught the trailer for the documentary Miss Representation, haven’t you? I’m planning to watch it when it airs (on a channel I can get).

    My eyes can’t roll much more.


  21. Leah

    Bravo- this cover and all the others like it do a great disservice to the excellent investigative journalism that often can be found inside the issue. “Kill Team” was totally disturbing but who’s gonna pay attention when Rihanna yaya is out for ogling?

  22. Plumginger

    This is how I feel every time I see a magazine rack. Thank you Jessica!

  23. Judy

    You are so right! This kind of photo makes me nuts.

  24. Kate

    Rolling Stone needs to change its name to ‘Women Are For Pleasure and America Is The Great Satan’. I wouldn’t line a birdcage with that crap.

  25. your neighborhood li

    Contrast to her Vogue cover:

    Ok she looks like she’s creeping up on an evil Caribbean crime lord, and the dress looks like she’s St Sebastian pierced by arrows, but it covers most everything and one can still discern some smidgen of all that sexy sexiness that everyone seems to think she is loaded with. No chain mail required. I just hate these Rolling Stone covers.

  26. The Moonay

    Just reading this feels really good. I can’t imagine how satisfying it must have been to write it.

  27. Gigi

    Fug Madness 2012 is going to be so good…

  28. Chasmosaur

    Totally agree (and you could do the same thing with Vanity Fair – men generally get to look suave, women are mostly undressed).

    But honestly? I’m cracking up because next to that cracked out hair-do, you have an ad for Tresemme Climate Control.

  29. Gina

    Everything Jessica said is so TRUE! And it is also appalling how massively Photoshopped her ass looks. It’s like plastic.

  30. Amanda in Austin

    BRAVO! So very well said.

  31. Zuzzie

    I knew I’d see this here :) Glad you clarified what the ‘shorts’ were, I stared at them for ages trying to figure out if they were painted on.

  32. Dara

    YES! Thank you for calling out Rolling Stone as a highbrow douchey maxim clone. What I find most offensive is that Rhianna has awesome (albeit insane) style. Dressing her like a ho from an 80′s hair metal video is so…unoriginal and lame.

  33. Lynnie

    Freakin’ fantastic rant, Jessica.

  34. Dana

    Hear, hear!

  35. María

    Sing it, sister!

  36. runningnerd

    This is one of the greatest examples of feminism and basically why I read this site

  37. Cecily

    That cover is so trashy and disappointing and yuck. The “pants” don’t even have any structure, tattered and torn is not attractive. And proffering your ass to me with the come hither look is not okay. When will women get past this? Just say NO to cheesy soft porn photography already. Thank you, Jessica, right on.

  38. Terri Stone

    Well said, Jessica.

  39. Feena

    Well said. A thousand times, well said.

  40. Deborah Stultz

    RiRi is also on the cover of Vogue this month, and she isn’t much more covered there, either. Can the Fug Girls do a compare and contrast?

  41. Akit

    as we say here in the UK, she looks like a right slag!

    It is a pity, you’re so right, that these beautiful women all get their ‘bits’ out at the drop of a hat. Soooooo tired of this behaviour. :-(

  42. Monica

    What Clara said – chain mail would pinch! Yikes!

  43. Me(lissa)

    Jess may end up with a harem because I want to marry her too.

    Thanks for reminding me of one of many reasons I no longer subscribe to the lad mag Rolling Stone. Blech on a bun.

    I also agree with the people on here pointing out that the women are fully participating in their objectification. We women COULD stop this if we refused to play along. Too many of us seem all too thrilled with acting out what men designated for us. It sucks.

  44. jean

    Definitely well said Jessica. This is frustrating too since I get the feeling Rhianna is no pushover when it comes to her own published image. She wants to be sexy–great! But this whole “look” doesn’t seem like her at all. If Jessica Simpson had done this, I would get it. Daisy Dukes and a ripped up tank top, check. But this ensemble makes Rhianna look like a back-up dancer to a crap rap artist. Depressing.

  45. A.J.

    Yes to everything you said. Sexy does NOT mean slutty.

  46. Laura

    sorry- i am the third Laura (8.29 am) and should have used a different name, i see.

  47. Roy

    This rant wins the day!

  48. Share


    It’s about dignity, dammit. Dignity, dignity, diggity ding dong.

  49. Jessica

    Thank you! I wish you all could have been here when I wrote it, because I got so irritated that my typing was SUPER LOUD.

    (As far as the American Apparel ads go, AmyK is right: if we don’t have a big ad buy (like a takeover), we have Google ads, which come from a big old pool of ads and are based on your cookies, so everyone sees something different — I don’t see American Apparel myself, I see Barneys and Lauren Conrad at Kohl’s. But I agree with you that AA has equally problematic issues, which is unfortunate because I like their t-shirts.)

  50. Kate

    Right on Jessica!

    Slightly off topic… following all the links to all of the aforementioned Rolling Stones covers, the headline under the Jessica Simpson’s during her Newlyweds fame has “John Mayer: Grammy Winner, 26, Seeks Girlfriend”

    You have to wonder what other hidden messages of gossip yet to pass the people from the future are trying to warn us about.

  51. Andie

    You. Go. Girl.

  52. kates

    If I could stand and applaud in my office, I would.

    Of course, the reason I could stand and applaud is because I am not wearing chain-mail Levi-loincloths that allow me to air-dry rather than using toilet paper. Perhaps this is an environmental statement?

    Yeah, probably not.

  53. Rio

    You are absolutely right on target! I am so sick of how they continually objectify the women of music (at a time where it’s great to see so many talented young women doing so well). They just don’t do this to the guys – how can they not see the hypocrisy? It should be “Maxim.”

  54. vandalfan


  55. fritanga

    I have to say it: all of these adult women agreed to be photographed in this manner (in chain-mail panties, cleaning while spread-eagled, whatever). Are they all that desperate for attention? Are they all living by the creed “Work it while you can?” Guess so.

    Actually, the only one in this group who disappointed me is Rosario Dawson. The rest: par for the course. Cannot wait until Vanessa Hudgens weasels herself up onto a RS cover wearing a band-aid (nothing we haven’t seen before). And I guess that’s the point. For some of these girls, chain mail loincloth/panties are actually demure attire.

  56. TonyG

    These women are all too often viewed as commodities, some self-marketed, all corporate controlled. Sadly, the music/acting/talent (or lack thereof) becomes besides the point.

    Once you/I/we/they view them as such, it becomes all about how to sell.

    As the saying goes, the internet is for porn, and not just the sexual kind: it has to also due with any altering of an image (e.g., photoshopping in the most banal sense) that produces the shock.

    With this truism, comes a trend: it’s all about the number of hits. It’s about what gets boys and girls to click on this stuff — either in support or in outrage.

    We are all a part of this game, controlling it with our fascination with pop culture.

    In an internet age where it is all about the visuals, and where we participate, the only way to vote our politic is to look away. Many don’t have the self-control to do this.

  57. Anne B

    Jessica. WORD.

    Those … shorts (???). Words fail. They’re like a reverse thong (and the sweet ‘I”m almost a jeans short’ pattern! Inspired.). They’re a wee metal advertisement for her butt.

    Once again, Sexy Bozo wins at Fug. (And at life.)

  58. cb


  59. TonyG

    Anne B: “We Metal Advertisement for Her Butt” Love it!

  60. TonyG

    Oops. “We” should be “Wee”. Sorry about that.

  61. Leah

    I thought the American Apparel conversation was funny because I see them too, and mine is literally a butt dancing back and forth with teeny leather short-shorts.

  62. Lina

    Thank you! Beautifully said!

  63. witjunkie

    OK, everyone is getting dancing AA butts and I get Star Jones’ Satan’s Sisters? What the hell did I click on to get THAT?

  64. Katharine

    I don’t know — how much choice does anyone actually have, especially when they’re on the cover of a high-powered rag like Rolling Stone (or Vogue or Vanity Fair)? Look how well it’s been going for the models who protested Terry Richardson’s inappropriate behaviour; for the most part, they are losing the he-said she-said war, and Richardson goes on being paid the big bucks for cover shots of half-naked greasy people that look like they were shot in someone’s rec room in 1980.

    I’m sure Rihanna could say “no, that’s inappropriate, I’m not doing it,” but how much flak would she get from HER representatives for turning down the opportunity (“Cover of Rolling Stone, girl! You don’t get that every day!”) and that BEFORE the people at Rolling Stone, more than likely, said, “fine, kiss your cover shot AND your interview goodbye,” and pulled a backup filler from the emergency can they almost certainly have? Followed by word being spread that she was a “diva” and “difficult to work with”.

    I’m saying that I expect it would be very, very difficult for ANYONE, even a “star”, to make that kind of strike in isolation, and she would have to either be extremely secure in her career, and in her belief that ONLY her talent got her where she is and would keep her there (rather than maybe a bit or a lot of her ass), or absolutely not care about maybe losing a few contacts in the industry.

  65. Lisa

    Whew! You go Jessica! That was the best feminista rant I’ve heard in a while, and dead on! You are my shero! :)

  66. Steven Whyte

    If anyone finds out where you get those shorts, find me on Facebook and let me know! Wow! (Not for me you understand…for the wife!)

  67. zh

    Round of applause for that evisceration. If I hadn’t been your-all’s devoted slave already, this would have tipped me over the edge.

  68. Jac

    “Rihanna Strikes Back” Really? That’s the title they came up with, as if her S&M video and Chris Brown’s continued antics didn’t already make me cringe. Maybe it’s just me but this post highlights exactly why Rolling Stone bugs me so much. They love running this type of trashy cover art while trying to position themselves as a magazine which holds itself to a higher moral/ethical standard running exposes about the the wrongdoings and societal ills of others. I have no problem with them calling out misbehaving politicians, corrupt corporations, or the shameful behavior by those who represent our country. Such people need to be held accountable for their actions but please tell me how I am supposed to react to these articles when some pop star’s tatas are staring me in the face on the opposite page?

    As for Rihanna’s outfit given RS’s history of skimpy clothing on cover girls and her own sartorial choices she no doubt had an idea of how she would be styled. In the end they both are responsible for promoting this ridiculousness.

  69. Jessica

    The covers are definitely styled by the magazine; I actually have no idea how much input the women have. I assume not as much as they’d like? But I don’t know.

  70. JanetP

    I love you, fug girls.

  71. cadesmom

    She had salmon for dinner, peeled the skin off and stuck it on her ass.

  72. Kelly

    Thank you Fug Girls! I used to subscribe to Rolling Stone because I like music but I cancelled my subscription years ago because I couldn’t stand the shameless objectification of women anymore. Yes, these women participate in their own objectification and that makes me sad but RS (which purports to be about music but views every female performer through the sweaty sexual beer goggles of a college boy) makes me incredibly angry. This is the kind of crap that teaches girls that they can be “with” the band but not in the band…unless they’re willing to skank it up to fulfill the puerile fantasies of the pigs at RS.

  73. KDK

    that rant was EPIC. remember to put that in the memoirs.

  74. lor

    Beautifully said.

  75. Sarah C

    WOW. That was cathartic to read, and I can only imagine what it was like to write it. RIGHT ON, SISTER.

  76. Julie

    @Katharine. 100% agreed. Don’t think there was much choice involved, one way or the other.

  77. AlmostBluefin

    Best. Post. Ever.

  78. anny

    The objectification is everywhere; it just turns into a big blur (and it’s so TIRING and depressing …) Thanks for blowing a big angry foghorn through it. We – I – need more of this, more often.

  79. Gail

    GREAT rant. Thank you.

  80. Sajorina

    “Pop’s Queen of Pain”? WTF, Rolling Stone??? FUG!!!

  81. kayla

    You’re all going to think I’m lying, but the *second* I clapped eyes on her arse, Lady Gaga sang “Just Dance” and sounded exactly like “just PANTS”.

  82. jenny

    Love it, Jessica. You tell ‘em.

  83. Becky

    Jessica, i am proud to be able to say that i read this. You are the wind beneath my wings, so good, dont change and keep fighting against the insanity of these tarts who degrade themselves and us by their lack of brains and fabric. You are to be congratulated!!!!! Thank you!

  84. Veronica

    Am I the only one who finds it incredibly crass to interview a woman with a very public history of domestic violence about her attraction to “bad boys” and the “dark side?”

  85. KatieE

    Veronica — I agree! Unbelievably tasteless of RS to refer to a victim of domestic violence as “pop’s queen of pain.”

  86. tafkav

    By the way, you do know that these are not just fugly shorts, but PAINTED fugly shorts?

  87. Sarah

    First of all: WORD.

    But second, the website of a newspaper (it’s a Dutch one, no translation available) stated that these are actually painted shorts. Like, sprayed on, fugly shorts. I think that somehow, that’s even worse.

  88. Julia


    I am so sick of interesting women* being portrayed as if their sex appeal is the only thing about them that matters. I think that all of the women whose covers you posted were established enough at the time that shouldn’t have had to (or felt they had to, or even really WANTED to) pose like that. Not only is it detrimental to women – the ones on the covers and all the rest of us as well – but it doesn’t say anything very flattering about men either. Can men not be interested in talented, beautiful women unless they’re in submissive/suggestive poses in little or no clothing?

    *No, I don’t necessarily count all of those women in this category, but you understand my point.

  89. emily

    Word. There is a time for snark and a time for well-deserved outrage. This feminist applauds.

  90. gryt

    This culture is going in the wrong direction – it’s just getting more and more objectifying of women.

  91. Monique

    Not to mention that with the level of photoshopping going on in her butt area, she looks like Jessica Rabbit from the waist down. I went looking for Rhianna butt pictures, as you do, and there was absolutely no need for Rolling Stone to paint this women another butt – she’s got a perfectly fine butt to start with, thank you very much. If Rhianna’s butt can’t grace a magazine cover without being photoshopped all to hell, then there’s no hope for any of the rest of us..

  92. pineapple

    rihanna looks GORGEOUS. wow… *jaw hanging open*

    seriously. hate on that sexy body all you want Jessica, but neither you nor I would look that good in a chain-mail-metallic loin cloth.

    Rihanna is WINNING!!!

  93. Mary

    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your taking on this issue (I ranted about the exact same thing in your Sucker Punch post the other day). We may have better employment opportunities and more equal pay than we did 30 years ago (though there’s still a way to go on those fronts, too — I’m looking at you, WALMART). But what are we supposed to do about all these young women who willingly and enthusiastically offer themselves up for objectification and exploitation? Incredibly, incredibly depressing.

  94. anonymoose

    Rihanna’s butt’s career is at a new low.

    Lady GagHag wears meat, Rihanna wears salmon skin. Whatever.

    Desperate delusional chicks do stupid stuff. But just like a car wreck, we don’t have to look.

  95. anonymoose

    I think Janet Jackson’s RS cover in which she is topless and there are 2 male hands covering her breasts is sexy and beautiful. Tasteful, even.

    In contrast, on this cover Rihanna looks immature and precocious.

    I get the sense that Rihanna truly believes that she is independently blazing a trail of strength and empowerment, however, her actions actually come across like she’s just following suit in the dime-a-dozen subordinate playbook, doing what is expected of her. Her twist, her personal flair, is that she obliges with such fug. Her fug creates tension. She seems to thrive on tension like a stubborn manipulative pompous child, determined to absorb the spotlight.

    If she ever develops some healthy self-esteem instead of this neediness, we made be spared the displays of a**cheeks and fool wigs and body graffiti. Meanwhile, we’re witnessing the growing pains of someone who doesn’t value the difference between dignity and delusion.

  96. CJ


  97. Jessica

    “seriously. hate on that sexy body all you want Jessica, but neither you nor I would look that good in a chain-mail-metallic loin cloth.”

    Dude, trust me — I am not hating on her body. I think she has an AMAZING body. I’ve said that here many a time. I’m saying that she is more than just an amazing body.

  98. CJ

    That was right up there with the best of the best Julia Sugarbaker tirades. Brava, Jessica!

  99. penny

    What’s with the Bonzo the Clown hair??

  100. Miss

    Really dislike it, but those aren’t chain-mail shorts ladies, I just read that on Huffington Post.

    They’re spray on! The chain-mail bits are glued on to look like frays from cut-offs.

    Yeah, I know… So she’s actually not wearing any sort of pants. Ahem.

  101. soandso

    Hahahahaha! The timeliness of MissRepresentation could not be better. Ironically it features Rosario Dawson (naked Rolling Stone model # 1,353) talking about, um, women not being taken seriously. Which she apparently knows about. Maybe it’s not too late to get Rihanna to do a spot, too.

  102. becs

    I’m guessing Rhianna was just fine with this outfit. Probably going to see it on the street any day now. As for flashing her lady parts, hell, she probably made a game out of it. And did anyone else click on the Simpson cover and notice that there is an article about John Mayer looking for a girlfriend in the same issue? Weird.

  103. gracie

    I too am troubled by the chainmail loincloth short shorts, but am more discouraged by the apparent over-airbushing of Rihanna’s thighs and ass. The way the fabric rests on her butt cheek is so obviously enhanced. I second all the comments about intelligent women wearing next to nothing, but would argue that the bigger offense is beautiful, slim women being airbrushed past the point of recognition. Didn’t RS get into hot water when they did this to Katy Perry recently?

  104. dmc

    *golf clap*

  105. SamBarge

    Thank you.

  106. Jacqueline.

    Whatever. She looks hot. She’s not airbrushed, she’s painted. See or read much? I’m not really sure what “chain mail” has to do with it either. Is this an American thing? To me, “chain mail” are those gay emails you get that threaten your life if you don’t send it onto a number of other gullible morons.

  107. Sarah Timm

    I don’t get why the spray-on shorts were even necessary, they look incredibly weird, it’s such a bizarre styling choice. What’s wrong with a regular pair of denim cutoffs?

  108. Ann

    I cancelled my subscription to Rolling Stone when I was in college 15 years ago, because I was tired of naked women showing up in my mailbox. Apparently they ascribe to the mantra, “nothing says art like nipples”

  109. Louie Opel

    Everyday when I wake up, I pray and say thank you for this. Girls unite and fight for ever!

  110. Andreea

    OMG. What impression does America make to me now?!

  111. Andreea

    …and OMG they are all naked! I thought this is a music magazine?!
    Even the european Playboy girls have more clothes on on the cover.

  112. Kirsten

    Am I the only one who thinks this should have a banner, “See Rhianna as Carrot Top in drag in the latest movie hit!” Or something similar.

  113. Alandra

    I am soooo over Rhianna. She tries to be so “in your face” after the whole CB incident it causes me to yawn. But that seems to be the trend with a lot of the urban youth/hip-hop culture nowadays. The I just “threw this together in the craziest way possible” look…(Nicki Manaj, Amber Rose, etc.) When will classy be the new crazy???

  114. Alandra

    And “Queen of Pain” RS? In pain are we talking how her aweful hair hurts my eyes, music hurts my ears, or general look makes me sick to my stomach? she was much cuter when she was the “Princess of R&B….