Cardi B apologises for imitating Hindu goddess Durga in photo shoot promoting Reebok shoes

The rapper was accused of cultural appropriation and showing disrespect to Indian culture by social media users

Cardi B's photo shoot for 'Footwear News' has been accused of cultural appropriation. Instagram / Footwear News
Powered by automated translation

Cardi B is no stranger to courting controversy, whether it's with her divisive music videos or her very public on-again-off-again relationship with husband Offset.

Now, the 28-year-old rapper is creating headlines yet again.

The Bodak Yellow musician was revealed as the latest Footwear News cover star on Tuesday, November 10, as she promoted the launch of her debut sneaker collection with Reebok. The problem? She showcased her designs while imitating the Hindu goddess Durga.

"In a Georges Hobeika dress, (Cardi B) pays homage to Durga, the Hindu goddess, whose symbols of protection and inner strength resonate as much in modern times as they have through the centuries. Like Durga, Cardi B is a dominant female voice at a critical time," read Footwear News' caption as the publication posted an image from the shoot.

The photo – and comparison of Cardi B to a sacred Hindu goddess – incensed social media users for a number of reasons.

As many pointed out on Twitter, Durga is a sacred figure in Hinduism, a protector of what is good and a warrior against forces of evil. Comparing oneself – no matter how rich or famous – to a deity was a sign of "disrespect", social media users commented in droves.

It also doesn't help that Durga is pictured modestly dressed in depictions, unlike Cardi B's corseted version of her.

The final nail on the coffin was that Cardi B impersonated the deity while advertising a shoe. In Indian culture, it is a usual practice to remove footwear when entering one's house, as shoes worn outside represent impurity. It is prohibited to enter Hindu temples wearing shoes, which is why Cardi B's take on the Indian goddess drew particular ire.

Fans accused the singer of cultural appropriation, and demanded she apologise for the photo shoot.

In the wake of the backlash, the singer publicly apologised on her Instagram Stories on Wednesday, November 11, saying she "didn't mean to offend or disrespect anyone's culture".

“When I did the Reebok shoe, the creator was telling me I was going to represent the goddess who represents strength, femininity and liberation and that’s something that I love and I'm all about ... But if people think I'm offending their culture or religion, I want to say I'm sorry. That was not my intent."

Cardi B also added that she "should have done my research".

“I can't change the past but I'm going to do more research in the future," she said.