Pop star Rihanna is steaming up the magazine racks with her virtually topless cover of January's GQ magazine. But is the singer who accepts that she is a role model for young girls sending mixed messages to those who look up to her?
The 21-year-old pop superstar tells GQ that she agreed to do the cover, with her arms strategically placed to cover-up any nudity, as a way to finally put the beating she suffered at the hands of then-boyfriend Chris Brown behind her:
"It's relieving because it was built up for so long, and all these thoughts and emotions have been running through my mind for the past eight months. And now it's like I finally get to let go and move on."
But why do it in such a public, revealing manner?
"I wanted people to move on with me cause the last big thing they know about me is That Night. And I don't want that to be what people define me as."
Shortly after the February attack, Rihanna got back together with Brown. The reconciliation didn't last long, Rihanna told ABC News last month, because of the message it could send to her fans:
"When I realized that my selfish decision for love could result into some young girl getting killed, I could not be easy with that part. I couldn't be held responsible for telling them, 'Go back.' Chris, even if Chris never hit me again, who's to say that their boyfriend won't."
Unlike so many stars, Rihanna clearly recognizes that her actions can have effects on other people. She's to be commended for that. But is her sexy cover shoot sending the wrong message to those same people?
Rihanna is a beautiful young woman, and certainly has the right to use that to further her career. But what about her fans who may not possess physical beauty? Looking at the cover may leave them feeling less self-confident, knowing they will never have success, if success is measured by how good they look.
Clearly that is not Rihanna's intention. But since she is very conscious of her fans' reactions to her own actions, shouldn't that have been something to consider?