When Rihanna wants to get real—like “call me Robyn” real—she heads home to Barbados. This time Glamour went with her to talk about old friends, her new TV show, and where that fearless attitude really comes from.
| Terry Tsiolis for Glamour Magazine | 04 photo(s).
RIHANNA: When people call me Robyn, my head just flies around because I feel like that person knows me. But Rihanna, that tends to be people’s own [creation]. Robyn is who I am. Rihanna—that’s an idea of who I am.
GLAMOUR: You grew up not too far from here. But I’ve heard that school wasn’t easy.
RIHANNA: I got teased my entire school life. What they were picking on I don’t even understand. It was my skin color [which was lighter than her classmates’]. Then when I got older, it was about my breasts. But I’m not victimized—I’m grateful. I think those experiences were strategically put together by God for the preparation of being in the music industry. It’s so easy for me to deal with the bullsh-t now.
GLAMOUR: You were clearly prepared. You just edged out your pal Katy Perry for having the most number-one pop songs.
RIHANNA: Oh, right! That was the thing my fans tweeted me.
GLAMOUR: Wait, you heard about that from a fan on Twitter?
RIHANNA: Yeah! [Laughs.] My fans are on it. That’s where I hear about most of my stats.
GLAMOUR: They definitely keep their eyes on you. Do you ever feel too watched, or trapped?
RIHANNA: There’s stuff like not being able to walk around as I please. I feel like I’m being watched. Always. Like, I want to tan topless somewhere, and I know I probably could never do that. Even if I’m upstairs in my bedroom, and the curtains are pulled, I feel like a paparazzo’s outside on a boat somewhere or somebody’s peeping.
GLAMOUR: Yikes. You’ve said before that you get misunderstood a lot.
RIHANNA: I know I am. That’s why it’s important for me to know who I am. There’s no way for people to know me. All they have are a couple of pictures and some crazy headlines to go off of.
GLAMOUR: Well, they’ve got your music.
RIHANNA: One hundred percent. Music helps me tell my story. That’s where I can really be heard. But there’s so much focus on the things that aren’t music.
GLAMOUR: Ah, the haters. Do you pay attention to what they say?
RIHANNA: I can’t run from it. You can’t change who you are. It’s important for me to know who I am and work with that. They’re gonna keep knocking away until all this comes crashing down. But I’m not gonna ever crash. I’m in control.
GLAMOUR: You seem pretty fearless these days.
RIHANNA: I had to regain my fearlessness because it did go away for a little bit. My mother said something to me a few years ago: “I’ve seen something in your eyes I’ve never seen before: fear.” She was like, “No, this is not you.” I just got back to being OK with myself.
To read the full story, pick up a copy of Glamour on newsstands starting October 8, or download the digital edition now at glamour.com/app.