Note: This article contains coarse language that may offend some readers.
Although she’s mostly known for her successful, Grammy Award-winning music career, Rihanna is also known for her Barbadian beauty and unique style. She’s graced the covers of countless magazines and shot campaigns for high-fashion lines like Dior and Balmain.
In other words, Rihanna is, at the very least, a trendsetter.
But for one disgruntled writer for the sports and men’s lifestyle blog Barstool Sports, Rihanna’s influence — especially on young women — is a threat to the world as he knows it.
In a now-deleted article titled, “Is Rihanna Going to Make Being Fat the Hot New Trend?” writer Chris Spagnuolo made two highly contested points, according to The Independent. The first one was that the eight-time Grammy Award-winning artist is now “fat” — so fat, in his opinion, that it appears as though she’s wearing a “sumo suit.”
And the second riveting argument Spagnuolo posed was that Rihanna’s alleged weight gain would then influence millions of young women to follow suit. He continued, saying it would affect all heterosexual men in the dating pool:
And based on what I’ve seen, that means it’s time to worry if you’re not a guy who fancies himself a chubby chaser.
He even gifted his audience with a visual of the looming obesity trend by Rihanna:
A world of ladies shaped like the Hindenburg loaded into one-piece bathing suits may be on the horizon now that Rihanna is traipsing around out there looking like she’s in a sumo suit.
Spagnuolo then tweeted his post out to his 30,500 followers as well as Barstool’s 708,000 followers:
— Chris Spags (@ChrisSpags) May 30, 2017
Naturally, people were furious.
Twitter users from all walks of life — sports fans, Rihanna fans, men, and women — all came down on not only Barstool for publishing the article, but—mostly—on the writer:
I'm not a Rihanna fan or a woman and I thought the article was repulsive. Also it reads like it was written by a 5-year-old #Soreeeeee
— David Tanklefsky (@davidtanklefsky) May 30, 2017
One woman even wished harm upon his family:
Praying that Karma comes for all your family members one by one!!!!!!!!!
— Kelly (@lovelyfe00) May 30, 2017
This user speculated that he had a problematic childhood:
Desperate for clicks? What's the next article, "Chloe Moretz is looking old and wrinkly. Is it the new trend?". How was your childhood? pic.twitter.com/PsHymKWTIf
— ?Lee-Metal? (@GeneraLee1988) May 30, 2017
Which some boiled down to “mommy issues”:
He obviously has mommy issues.
— Emilee (@daybreakdisdain) June 1, 2017
Others felt he wrote the article solely for clicks and a reaction:
What the miserable will do for some attention…
— ?⚓️ (@ms_felo) May 30, 2017
And this man proposed his own rendition of the post:
Shortly following the outpour of anger, Barstool deleted the article from its website.
But the damage was already done.
The same day, Spagnuolo tweeted screenshots of the replies he was receiving, claiming he was the target of cyber-bullying:
Rihanna fans did not like my blog calling her fat and now I'm being cyberbullied ? pic.twitter.com/iuvYIwW8gr
— Chris Spags (@ChrisSpags) May 30, 2017
However, it didn’t earn him much sympathy from others:
U called women fat & you're crying bully? You don't have ownership over a woman's body & your opinion is shame-based. Get a brain.
— Yolanda Machado (@SassyMamainLA) May 30, 2017
In fact, it caused people to dig even further into the writer’s account — eventually leading some to re-post this 2009 tweet:
i'm surprised they're not giving you more trouble for this one! pic.twitter.com/6f8Ns48QI7
— Lauren Zupkus (@laurenzup) May 30, 2017
Finally, his editor, Deke Zucker, announced his suspension on Thursday, June 1:
BREAKING NEWS: @ChrisSpags suspended from blogging indefinitely
— Deke Zucker (@Barstool_Quotes) June 1, 2017
For most employed individuals, that would be the point when, at the very least, fear of joblessness kicks in.
But apparently, Spagnuolo felt quite the opposite. In a response to his suspension, he tweeted back to his editor saying:
Breaking: My boss can’t handle getting called out in Cosmo now that he’s trying to f**k anyyone [sic] who reads Teen Vogue.
According to The Independent, the founder of Barstool Sports, Dave Portnoy, has been accused of sexism in the past — a fact he referenced in his “apology.” Portnoy stated he didn’t think the article “was as bad as many are making it out to be,” but removed it from the site because it wasn’t funny enough:
There are just certain topics that you better nail if you’re gonna write about them because you know they are hot button issues for us. So if you’re gonna blog about Rihanna gaining weight you better be funny as f**k and you better make it bullet proof.
As I’ve said many times [Spagnuolo] wasn’t originally hired to be a personality at Barstool. He should not be writing blogs that we as a company end up having to defend. And I’ve been doing this long enough to know that somewhere down the line this blog will be dug up again and used as an example of our extreme sexism. Frankly, that’s not a hill I’m willing to die on. I’ll choose a different guy and a different blog to go to war for.
As for Spagnuolo, he’s now started the hashtag “Free Spags.” And with a paid suspension, it’s clear he’s not too remorseful about offending thousands of people.
Suspension: Day two pic.twitter.com/y1Mnlz4cWo
— Chris Spags (@ChrisSpags) June 2, 2017