In the way that I’ve praised Beyoncé for exuding an old Hollywood style of appeal, I appreciate Rihanna for doing the exact opposite. It’s 2014 now and the truth is, the former entertainment industry model is long been dead and gone. Social and digital media have given us expressive tools that expose our private lives and opinions, forever immortalizing our essence (and sordid pasts) on the pages of Google search. While some celebrities detest this fact, others embrace it and legitimately own society’s new normal.

Rihanna is one of those stars. Consistantly making news headlines for her bad girl antics, realness, and personal style, it’s becoming increasingly hard to remember that she originally got her start making music. The cool thing is, when Rihanna does make music, it’s good. In fact, everything Rihanna does seems to garner public appeal. Especially nowadays. She lives her life on her own terms and, reminiscent of her most recent album title, Unapologetic.

When you can change your image from singer to notoriously celebrated fashion icon, you’re changing the game in a major way. Remember, she didn’t gain her fashion icon status predominately from music videos or live performances in the way that other musicians have before her. She did it simply by living out Loud. When you can outdo everyone (including the fashion elite, Anna Wintour and Naomi Campbell) at a style event as prestigious as the 2014 CFDA Fashion Awards, you deserve the title of “Fashion Icon of the Year.”

Cutting edge and always on the forefront of celebrity culture and style, I applaud Rihanna for doing what she does best, remain authentic. A true artist elicits a reaction from their work and it can be considered either good or bad. Regardless, isn’t the point of art to make a person feel something? Rihanna does that just by living. Very few mainstreamers can relate and she will always stand out and personally be admired by me for her ability to. In 2014, where everything is so easily and publicly exposed, why shouldn’t Rihanna be?