How Rihanna Battled A Childhood Filled With Abuse & Poverty To Become A Self-Made Billionaire

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Rihanna

In a world dominated by Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, Rihanna has become the unlikely newest addition to the billionaire club.

According to Forbes, Rihanna has accumulated a net worth of $1.7 billion, making most of her fortune from her lucrative Fenty Beauty line.

And while the world probably didn’t need another billionaire, at least we say Rihanna’s dollars were hard-earned.

As a woman of color born and raised in Barbados in an abusive household, Rihanna’s journey to billionaire status is one filled with more obstacles than most.

How did Rihanna become a billionaire?

Rihanna’s billion-dollar fortune started building with her music career, but her beauty and skincare brand, Fenty, launched in 2017, compounded her wealth and cemented her place as a billionaire.

Of course, the real story of how Rihanna became a billionaire started with humble beginnings.

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Rihanna was raised in an abusive household.

Born and raised in Barbados, Rihanna’s upbringing wasn’t easy.

Her father, Ronald Fenty, was an alcoholic and drug addict who often abused her mother, Monica Braithwaite.

The singer, whose full name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty, has previously recalled her father hitting her when she was 7, walking in on him smoking crack when she was just 9 years old, and witnessing him hit her mother for years.

“It’s painful to watch your mum go through certain things. I learned a lot, you know,” she said in 2013.

Rihanna wasn’t born rich.

Unlike many billionaires who are born into wealth, Rihanna is truly self-made.

By 16 years old, Rihanna was staying at home to care for her brother while her single mother worked around the clock to support the family having separated from her father.

If the lesson from this experience was to work hard for your dollar, Rihanna learned it well. Before she turned 17, Rihanna had been discovered by music producer Evan Rogers and signed by Jay-Z’s Def Jam music label, making her a star.

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Rihanna is an abuse survivor.

In 2009, after she was assaulted by then-boyfriend Chris Brown, media coverage about Rihanna was less to do with her career success and more focused on dissecting every aspect of her personal life.

The kind of victim blaming and shaming that came with the horrific assault is enough to make any woman shrink from the spotlight and Rihanna would have been forgiven if she never made music again.

Consistently reinventing herself as a musician, actress, businesswoman, designer and more, Rihanna has refused to let hardship mar her success.

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Rihanna’s brands celebrate diversity.

Perhaps Rihanna’s greatest accomplishment is a billion dollar business built on diversity and inclusion.

Since it’s 2017 launch, Fenty Beauty has consistently lived up to its “Beauty for all" motto with expansive shade ranges and cruelty-free formulas.

Her Savage X Fenty lingerie line is modeled on runways by trans, disabled, and plus-sized models of all genders and races and has been since its inception, unlike other billion-dollar lingerie counterparts.

And her own cult of personality, an enterprise in itself, is one of unapologetic Blackness and femininity that defies everything one thinks of when they imagine a billionaire.

Rihanna’s wealth offers a possibility that maybe, just maybe, becoming a billionaire doesn’t have to be morally bankrupt.

Wrapped up in all of this is the hope that Rihanna has not only broken down doors for herself, but left them open behind her for others.

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Alice Kelly is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Catch her covering all things social justice, news, and entertainment. Keep up with her Twitter for more.