Rihanna Says Now-Iconic Haircut Was ‘Really Liberating’

Loud singer tells MTV News she wanted to do 'something daring with my hair, something fun, something unexpected.'

The word “icon” gets tossed around a lot in pop music. So if multiplatinum pop&B star [artist id="1940303"]Rihanna[/artist] is not yet an icon, then she’s arguably exhibiting the DNA of an icon-in-the-making, including a trend-shifting haircut that has become one of the most requested styles in salons from Brooklyn to Baltimore. And everyone knows that a look worthy of pop royalty begins with the crown — just ask Madonna.

On Wednesday, MTV News caught up with Rihanna at a New York book signing for her self-titled photography collection, and the “Only Girl (In the World)” singer said it was “exciting” that she’d inspired so many girls to chop their tresses.

“For me, when I cut my hair, it was really, really liberating,” Rihanna told us, just weeks before her hotly anticipated LP Loud is due. “And I always like to do something daring with my hair, something fun, something unexpected and something not typical.”

At her book event, the 22-year-old was sporting the long, layered, fiery-red locks she’s been rocking in recent months. But the ‘do that most have come to call “the Rihanna” is a Mohawk-inspired look that gets its flirtiness from the long strands that sweep the eyes. The singer first took shears to her Beyoncé-esque mane with the 2008 release of her Good Girl Gone Bad album, drawing “oohs” for a jet-black bob that broke with R&B tradition.

Since then, she’s subjected her version of “the Rihanna” to colors and textures of every variation, from the severe bangs of “Hard” to the Barbados-approved barrel curls of “Rude Boy.” And in turn, girls around the country paid homage with cuts of their own. But Rih admitted that convenience also factored into her decision to go short.

“[I wanted] something that, when I wake up in the morning, it kind of leads the day, you know? Kind of tells you what to wear,” she said. “When you’ve got too much options with your hair, it’s stressful; it could take two hours to get ready,” she laughed.

The editor in chief of Hype Hair, Adrienne Moore, weighed in on the appeal of Rihanna’s hairdo, particularly for a generation of girls increasingly wed to weaves and extensions. She highlighted the superstar’s willingness to a “take a risk.”

“Rihanna gives us a fascinating style that’s unexpected, and that unexpected look sets her apart from the rest,” Moore told MTV News. “She wasn’t afraid to take a risk, from the first project [A Girl Like Me], she released herself from all that long hair.”

Moore added that even in abandoning the short style for now in favor of a “voluminous” look, Rihanna has managed to keep her admirers on their toes. “It’s almost like she’s stepping back with a retro look, a soft look, as opposed to a spiky, edgy look. So she shocked people,” Moore said of the star’s latest look, describing it as a Marilyn Monroe throwback.

Which Rihanna hairstyle is your favorite? Tell us in the comments!

@rebeccabuilds Senior Yoga Correspondent, Hip-Hop Devotee, NYC Native, Dreamer.