It wasn’t too long ago that having tattoos was considered taboo. Nowadays, almost everyone has gone under the needle to express their personal style with ink pieces both big and small. Superstar Rihanna has reportedly done so 25 times and has the ink to prove it.
A decade and some change ago, the bad gal herself walking into a dingy tattoo parlor on 6th Avenue in Manhattan and requested a Sanskrit tattoo on her leg from tattoo artist to the stars Keith “Bang Bang” McCurdy. Although Bang Bang will tell you now that he is a Rihanna fan, he wasn’t exactly star struck on day one.
“It was right when ‘Umbrella’ came out. I met her, I tattooed her, then I went home and googled her name,” Bang Bang says of the experience (via Vogue). The tattoo would be the first of many for the pair and for Rihanna, as she’s slowly covered herself in iconic inkings throughout the years.
Rihanna's ankles are covered with small pieces
There isn’t exactly a ton of surface area in the ankle region to cover with ink, but Rihanna has managed to squeeze in a few. Having since been covered, Rihanna’s first tattoo ever was a treble clef on her ankle that she received at a young age to represent her love of music.
Shortly after, she added a skull and crossbones with a pink and red bow, her only colored tattoo, which is still visible today. Where the treble clef once lived is a falcon tattoo created by Bang Bang (via Mirror). Bang Bang also inked “1988,” the year Rihanna was born, on the front of her ankle, (via Capital Xtra).
Perhaps most notable, due to the rumors surrounding how Rihanna got the ink, is a camouflage shark tattoo on the front of her left ankle. The tattoo was reportedly given to the “Love The Way You Lie” singer in Drake’s dressing room and was inspired by their date to the Toronto Aquarium.
Rihanna has received traditional tattoos overseas
Rihanna loves getting tattooed while traveling, and in 2013 she received a Maori Ta Moko ‘stick and poke’ tattoo through the traditional method of a mallet and chisel while visiting New Zealand.
This method of tattooing is said to be extremely painful, but this did not give the singer enough reason to keep the ink once she decided she didn’t love it, (via NZ Herald). Not long after she received the ink, she flew her favorite tattoo artist Bang Bang to the Dominican Republic to cover the design with a henna-inspired handpiece (via Capital Xtra). Remnants of the original tattoo are still visible underneath the coverup, which is said by Rihanna to represent strength and love, (via Body Art Guru).
One of Rihanna’s most recognizable tattoos is the ribcage tattoo is Isis, goddess of the moon, which she received on a past trip to London. Isis is revered as the picture-perfect mother and wife, making her the perfect symbol for Rihanna to dedicate to her grandmother who passed away in 2012, (via Capital Xtra).
Riri has a matching tattoo with one of her famous exes
In the late 2000s, Rihanna entered a infamously tumultuous relationship with Chris Brown. Before things took a turn for the worse, Rihanna had Bang Bang ink a trail of stars down her neck to match with her then-beau, who also has a trail of stars on his neck (via Capital Xtra).
Things took a turn for the worse in 2009, when Brown physically assaulted Rihanna in a car and threatened to kill her, states an affidavit written by a detective on the case, (via Billboard). Through this harrowing experience, Rihanna found a new strength and commemorated it with new ink.
Months after the assault, Rihanna unveiled a handgun tattoo on her right side. In an interview with Elle U.K, (via Yahoo! Entertainment), she says of the art, “Everybody wanted to know what was happening in my life. Is she a drug addict? No. Is she an alcoholic? No. Is she a victim? No. That’s why I got the gun. It was a symbol of strength. I’ll never be a victim.”
Rihanna loves her text tattoos as well
In addition to these notable tattoos, Rihanna has gone under the needle for several other meaningful pieces. She reportedly walked into Bang Bang’s studio at midnight and stayed for five hours to complete a large cross tattoo on her wrist to represent her Christian beliefs. Rihanna has a second cross tattoo as well, a much daintier version of the symbol inked onto her collarbone, (via Capital Xtra).
The makeup mogul isn’t afraid to put words that mean a lot to her on her body, and you’ll find various script tattoos in her collection. Rebelle Fleur, meaning “rebel flower” in French, can be seen scrawled across her neck. On her lower back is the Tibetan word for lover, and on her lower ribcage is the Arabic phrase for “Freedom in God.” On her chest, you’ll see the mantra “never a failure, always a lesson,” peaking out above the necklines of her iconic dresses, (via Capital Xtra).
Rihanna has some of the most famous tattoos in the world, and she’s not afraid to show them off. They’re a staple of her personal style, and they fit seamlessly into her bad girl aesthetic.
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