This Indian Model Is Being Called Rihanna’s Doppelgänger & We Can’t Unsee

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When Renee Kujur, a model from Chhattisgarh, India, first started modeling, she was discriminated against for her dark skin, with designers lightening her skin color with Photoshop and makeup. Now, she’s being called Rihanna 2.0. In an interview with Hindustan Times, Kujur opened up about her struggle with colorism in the modeling industry and how comparisons to Rihanna changed everything.

“Photographers would tell their clients that I resemble Rihanna,” Kujur said. “That way, it was easier to convince them. No one could deny that Rihanna was beautiful. That sort of worked in my favor. Those who had called me kaali and unattractive had to take back their words.”

As a dark-skin model in India, Kujur’s modeling jobs were far and few between. And when she was cast, Kujur either faced sexual harassment by designers who offered her work in exchange for sex or colorism by brands that lightened her skin with makeup and Photoshop. Kujur even heard makeup artists telling her that making her dark skin “look good” was a challenge.

“Being dark had already killed my chances,” Kujur said. “[A makeup artist once said] ‘Sundar ladki ka make-up toh koi bhi kar sakta hai (Anyone can do the make-up for a beautiful girl). The real challenge is to make a dark girl look good and I’ve done it.”

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It wasn’t until a friend told her that she looked like Rihanna that Kujur noticed a change in the way that she was treated, with designers and photographers noticing the similarity too. “I laughed off the Rihanna part. But soon, everyone was saying the same thing,” Kujur said. “With such a deep-rooted prejudice in people’s mind, it would’ve been very tough to get work. The Rihanna factor turned out to be a blessing. Rihanna has already convinced people that she’s sexy and beautiful, and the West is crazy about her. If I resemble her, how can I be unattractive? That’s how our mind works. I don’t know where I would’ve landed without Rihanna.”

As for what she’s doing with her newfound success, Kujur is trying to change colorism in the modeling industry. Though not all dark-skin models look like Rihanna, she wants them to know that, regardless of their skin color, they’re beautiful and worthy of being models. “Few are willing to bend rules. For most people, beauty strictly means fair skin. It’ll take time to rewrite norms, but I’m happy that I’m part of the change,” Kujur said.

Kujur’s uncanny similarity to Rihanna is what caught our attention. (Her Instagram handle is @badgalrene.) But her passion when it comes to shutting down beauty standards is what’s capturing our hearts. Keeping doing you, girl.

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