Rihanna and Chris Brown
Rihanna and Chris Brown. (Photos: Getty Images)

Grammy Award winner Rihanna is a beautiful, phenomenally gifted singer, but her soft spot for her ex-boyfriend – the equally talented performer, Chris Brown – is starting to cost her a lot of money. Rihanna, to some people’s dismay, has clearly forgiven Brown for his well-publicized beating of her, an incident that occurred right before the 2009 Grammys.

In fact, the two singers have been able to patch things up to the point where they collaborated on two songs this year, sparking speculation that they might re-unite as a couple.

In August, Rihanna even admitted to talk show queen Oprah Winfrey that she and Chris Brown still “love each other and we probably always will.” And just this month, Rihanna and Brown openly kissed at the VMA Music Awards. It wasn’t a passionate embrace or anything, just a quick peck. But after a series of cryptic tweets by Rihanna seemingly directed at Brown and a constant swirl of rumors about the once crazy-in-love duo, that very public smooch left no doubt at all for the public that the two have reconciled their differences and are now “close friends,” as Rihanna told Oprah.

While I don’t condone domestic violence at all, I do respect and applaud Rihanna’s willingness and ability to forgive Brown and move on. Rihanna may have learned – as the Bible teaches – that forgiveness is as much for the person doing the forgiving, as it is for the person being forgiven.

Unfortunately for Rihanna, the rest of the world hasn’t reconciled the fact that Rihanna has made peace with the man who three years ago left her battered and bruised.

So for Rihanna, the sad truth is that – as unfair as it is – her forgiveness of Brown comes at a cost. An emotional cost, to be sure, as evidenced by Rihanna’s teary confessions to Oprah. But there’s a high financial cost to her forgiveness as well – even if Rihanna doesn’t fully realize it, or doesn’t care.

A Major Endorsement Lost

The primary way in which Rihanna’s forgiveness and lingering love for Chris Brown will be costly can be seen in her deals with corporate sponsors.

Apparently, Rihanna breaking up with Chris Brown isn’t enough for many critics.

The fact that Rihanna has not flat-out distanced herself from Brown (as critics want her to do) is almost certainly off-putting to many potential companies and brands that might have wanted to align themselves with Rihanna. These are potential sponsorships, endorsements, and advertising deals that will never come Rihanna’s way – all because of her allegiance to Brown.

Consider this: After the vicious 2009 fight that led to their breakup, and then rumors that Brown and Rihanna might get back together, David Reeder, vice president at the branding agency GreenLight told E! Online: “I don’t believe brands will use a reunion with Chris Brown as the sole basis for disengaging from her.”

“More likely,” Reeder predicted, “brands will let consumers voice their opinion on the resumption of her relationship. If public sentiment takes a less than supportive turn, current deals she has may choose not to renew.”

Unfortunately for Rihanna that prediction appears to have come true.

Just last month, Nivea Cosmetics dropped Rihanna as a spokesperson in a multi-faceted, multi-million dollar campaign.

In 2011, Nivea paid Rihanna $25 million – so this was a huge endorsement deal. In fact, this one corporate sponsorship represented the single largest piece of Rihanna’s income – more money than her earnings from singing.

In July 2012, Forbes magazine reported that Rihanna’s sponsorship deal with Nivea had pushed her to the number three spot in the publication’s ranking of the 30 richest celebrities under 30.

Forbes put Rihanna’s 12-month income at $53 million, meaning the Nivea deal alone was nearly half of her annual pay. Overall, Forbes ranked Rihanna #4 on the magazine’s May 2012 list of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Celebrities.

Is it Just That Rihanna’s Too Sexy? 

So why did Nivea have a change of heart about Rihanna, after just signing her a year ago? Supposedly, the company decided to part ways with the singer because it deemed Rihanna to be “too sexy.”

In explaining the decision not to renew Rihanna, Stefan Heidenreich, the head of Nivea’s parent company, Beiersdorf, told German media that Rihanna’s brand didn’t fit with the Nivea brand’s family image. “I do not understand how Nivea can be brought into association with Rihanna,” he said, adding: “Nivea is a company which stands for trust, family and reliability.”

Say what?!