Rihanna: Role Model No More?

Amid reports the singer is back with Chris Brown, her fans, friends falter.

March 04, 2009, 7:56 AM

March 4, 2009 — -- To some, Rihanna is a victim.

To others, in light of reports that she's back with Chris Brown after allegations that he beat and bruised her, she is something completely different.

"She's not sending the right message to kids," said Maggie, 15, a former Rihanna fan and sophomore at New York City's High School for Environmental Studies. "She's just retarded and I just hope she knows that I'm not going to listen to her ever again."

Maggie, who asked that her last name not be used, isn't the only teenager upset with the 21-year-old pop superstar, who reportedly reconciled with Brown, 19, at Sean "Diddy" Combs' Miami Beach mansion this weekend after their reported Feb. 8 altercation.

"She's making it seem like it's OK to get hit by your boyfriend and get back together with him. She's a role model for kids. What is she thinking?" said Britteny Hughes, 17. "If they have to hit each other, they shouldn't be together."

Candice Hopkins, the director of loveisrespect.org, the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline, isn't surprised that teens are lashing out at Rihanna.

"Blaming the victim is a very common reaction," she said. "The most common reaction is, 'why does she stay? Why does she take that?' But the question should be, 'why would someone be abusive to their partner?' We have to reinforce that there is no behavior that justifies someone being violent with you."

"Her going back to him is not abnormal in terms of abusive teen relationships," Hopkins said. "You hear all the time, 'it'll never happen again.' But unless they both get the help that's needed, unfortunately it's more than likely that the situation will occur again."

Though they may be baffled by Rihanna's actions, teens aren't holding back on Brown, either.

"Now when I hear a Chris Brown song, I change the station," said Tazia Watson, 18. "I don't accept his apology. I don't even want to hear what he has to say."

Chris Brown, Rihanna Stay Silent

Apart from canned statements from their PR reps, both stars have kept their mouths shut. Brown's representative declined to comment for this story; Rihanna's did not respond.

"At the request of the authorities, Rihanna is not commenting about the incident involving Chris Brown," Rihanna's representative said in a statement released Feb. 20, the singer's 21st birthday. "She wants to assure her fans that she remains strong, is doing well and deeply appreciates the outpouring of support she has received during this difficult time."

According to a statement released Feb. 15 by Mike Sitrick, a Brown representative, the singer says he is "seeking the counseling of my pastor, my mother and other loved ones." He's due to be arraigned in Los Angeles Thursday, but the district attorney's representative could not confirm whether charges had been filed against him or whether the arraignment would happen.

Along with fans, the lack of information has also frustrated the couple's friends in the music industry.

"I don't know how to feel about it," said singer Shontelle about Rihanna's reported reconciliation. Shontelle grew up with Rihanna in Barbados and has worked with her on multiple songs.

"You see that photo and your heart just breaks," she said, referring to the photos of Rihanna's swollen, cut face released two weeks ago. "You think she's going to do one thing and then it's something else. I wish I knew what was going on."

Shontelle, who recently released her debut album "Shontelligence," recognized fans' need for Rihanna to explain what occurred with Brown.

"Sometimes people say, 'I'm not trying to be a role model,' but it comes with the territory," she said. "Once you're in the spotlight, people look up to you. If you're in a position where you can set a good example, that's what you should try to do."

R&B singer Usher -- someone Brown has emulated through his career -- slammed the 19-year-old for photos that showed him smiling and riding around on a Jet Ski in Miami this weekend.

"C'mon, Chris. Have a little bit of remorse, man," Usher said, according to Usmagazine.com. "The man's on Jet Skis? Like, just relaxing in Miami?"

50 Cent's Take on Brown

Last week, rapper 50 Cent speculated on the future of both Brown and Rihanna's careers.

"I don't want to say it's over, but it will be different. ... He can't have that clean-cut image anymore," he said about Brown. "I don't think he should say anything right now. Like the apology statement he put out ... there's no way the public will embrace that."

As for Rihanna, 50 Cent hopes she'll get back to the tour circuit and recording studio soon.

"I don't think she needs to hide. She didn't do anything wrong," he said.

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