Rihanna Said She Doesn’t View Her Fans Like Lady Gaga Does

One question which isn’t going away is this: Should celebrities be good role models? Some fans just want their favorite celebrity to be happy. Others want celebrities to use their influence on fans for good. Let’s look back at what Rihanna had to say on her relationship with her fans – and Lady Gaga’s.

Rihanna attends a Fenty Beauty talk | Han Myung-Gu/WireImage

What Rihanna said about her influence on her fans

In a 2011 interview with Logan Hill of Glamour, Rihanna discussed slut-shaming. “I wouldn’t want to promote teenage girls having sex. But the reality is, it’s happening, and they’re just a little too young to understand how careful they need to be. That’s a big battle with me, because I’m 23, and a lot of my fans are eight years younger than I am, so there’s a bit of a tug-of-war there.”

She continued “I want to set the right example and, at the same time, live my life. So I kind of let go of that and was just really honest. I feel like pop stars can’t be rock stars anymore because they have to be role models, and it takes the fun out of it for us, because we just want to have fun with art.”

Rihanna also said she “realize[s] the impact I have on young women… We live different lives, but we have a lot of the same life experiences. They trust the things that I say because it’s coming from a peer, as opposed to a parent. And you have to put on your role model hat…. They know you’re just as rebellious as they are, so if you say something is wrong, it’s wrong for sure.”

Rihanna on the difference between her and Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga attending the Met Gala | Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Lady Gaga famously refers to herself as “Mother Monster” and her fans as “Little Monsters.” This makes her a maternal presence for some of her fans. In her 2011 Glamour interview, Hill said Rihanna didn’t seem to fill the mother figure role for her fans.

Rihanna replied “No, because I don’t look at [my fans] as followers under myself. We’re peers. They’re right here with me.”

She added “I need them more than they need me. I need their feedback, I need their honesty, and I need their support. Without that, it’s pointless. I respect them very, very much.”

‘I can only live for me’

Rihanna | Caroline McCredie/Getty Images for Fenty Beauty by Rihanna

These comments echo other comments from Rihanna. In 2011, The Sydney Morning Herald reported she said “Pop culture is changing…[T]he pop icons nowadays are very fearless, unapologetic, edgy and it’s a lot for people to swallow sometimes. Because people still think pop star equals role model, but it’s almost impossible to walk that line.”

She added “I’ve struggled with it and have come to the conclusion that I can only live my life for me. I definitely want to help and teach little girls whenever I can, but then there is the character that I have to play in my videos to tell stories…And a lot of the parts that I play aren’t necessarily what I stand for in real life. But it’s hard to differentiate that sometimes.”

Rihanna has never been afraid to be edgy. Some may look up to her. However, she said she isn’t trying to be a mother figure to fans like Mother Monster.

Also see: Rihanna Reveals Her Hit ‘S&M’ Reflects Her Relationship With Her Dad