Most people would agree that 2018 has been a very eventful and memorable year. Not only has it been the year of the ‘wonderful’ Donald Trump’s presidency, but it has also been the year of major celebrity scandals, from the UK’s Meghan Markle to U.S. lawmakers’ involvement in the #MeToo movement. But it is the year of celebrity scandals regarding topless pictures that have truly made headlines.

Most people know that singer and songwriter Rihanna is a style icon, and her fashion choices and body positivity inspire millions. What people may not know is that Rihanna’s topless photo scandal has surpassed even the most optimistic of expectations, selling over a million copies around the world and making the singer one of the most prominent figures in the scandal industry.

The year 2018 has seen some amazing female soloists perform and release some of the most iconic songs of all time. Striking a perfect balance between feminism and sex appeal, Taylor Swift’s ‘Look Back At Me’ tour sold out worldwide, and she currently holds the record for the highest-grossing female-fronted concert tour of all time. Having already released seven studio albums and sold over 40 million records worldwide, it is fair to say that Taylor Swift is one to watch in the decades to come. Additionally, Taylor’s ‘Look Back At Me’ tour was recently ranked the fourth-greatest of all time by Billboard, proving her status as a household name and global style icon.

Rihanna’s Topless Scandals

It was only a matter of time before Rihanna became the next celebrity to break the topless photo taboo. Despite the singer having previously said to Howard Stern in 2016 that she doesn’t like having boobs because “they get in the way”, the star has continually surprised fans with her sultry style choices. From her bold fashion choices, to her steamy Instagram posts, Rihanna has always proven to be ahead of the trends – but not even she could have foreseen the scale of her topless photo scandal.

The singer first posed for topless pictures in a photoshoot with British photographer Tyler Shields for a 2015 issue of Wonderland magazine. While some people thought highly of the pictures and claimed that they were feminist in nature, the majority of fans were not so sure. After the controversy died down and the pictures were made available for purchase – albeit in a limited edition – Rihanna’s topless scandal reached its peak. It all started with a now-infamous selfie taken at a Los Angeles Lakers game in October 2018. In the picture, the star is shown in a revealing outfit, posing with her arms raised above her head.

The caption for the photo read: “Danced … With my girls.” Although this may not necessarily be a crime, the fact that the hashtag #JealousRihanna began trending on social media may indicate that the singer’s fans – and non-fans alike – were feeling a tad bit insecure. Furthermore, people came to believe that Rihanna was playing with her audience, using the selfie as a distraction from her reality TV show Work. Additionally, many media outlets printed various versions of the photo, leading many to believe that they had seen Rihanna’s bare breasts. In the months following the selfie incident, it is estimated that the singer’s topless scandal sold over a million copies around the world and made its way to #3 on the Billboard Top-100 Singles chart.

Whether the pictures are a reflection of reality or not, it doesn’t matter as Rihanna continues to prove that she is not your typical female singer. In fact, the star often states that she finds conventional fashion and beauty standards “boring” and “stifling”, often sporting revealing outfits and posting provocative pictures on social media. Additionally, the singer has been highly vocal about her body positivity and the importance of having a good hair and makeup team, which she often credits for helping her to keep her “boys”. In other words, not only is Rihanna inspiring women and children around the world with her music, she is also setting a new example for female pop stars, and celebrities in general.

The Year Of The Topless Photo

It would be remiss of me not to mention the 2017 World Cup, which saw the stunning fashion trends that were inspired by the competition. From Brazil’s colorful football uniforms and Mexico’s beautiful fan wear, to England’s flag-waving and Germany’s passionate fan representation, this year’s football tournament saw a cultural exchange of ideas that transcended the sport itself. With the world at its feet, England won the cup in July and became world champions for the first time since 1956.

While it would be easy to attribute the rise in popularity of topless pictures this year to the success of the World Cup, it is clear that this trend has been building for a while. Back in March 2018, it was revealed that the topless photo was the year’s top-selling image on Getty’s Stock Photo website – beating out even the most daring ‘selfie’ selfies. According to statistics from Stock Photo, there were 7.9 million requests for topless pictures in the month of March alone, compared to 6.9 million for the ‘selfie’.

It would be difficult to put a figure on the rise of topless pictures over the last year, but it is clear that 2018 can solely be attributed to the success of these sensational pictures. Whether it’s Amy Schumer’s hilarious antics or the year’s biggest pop culture story of a topless Rihanna, it is apparent that the year of 2018 has been dedicated to spreading the good word of toplessism.