This is a woman who admits on Twitter that she knows everyone won't like her and posts Instagram photos "dedicated to all the people who" told her she "would never be s—," a caption she may have hesitated to write earlier in her career. Now, Rexha tells PopCulture.com in an exclusive interview that she is fully herself in her music and online, and worked awfully hard to get there.
"I think the mental shift happened for me when I kind of got to a dark point of not loving myself, and feeling like I wasn't good enough, and trying to fit the mold," she told PopCulture.com. "And after a certain time, it gets to your head. And you want to be loved by people, but if you don't love yourself and you say mean things to yourself, then it's like, what's the point?"
"For me, it just kind of clicked in being like, 'I have to be my number one fan, and I have to be nice to myself, and I have to love myself,'" she continued. "Because if you don't love yourself, and people tell you all the best things about you, then it doesn't really mean anything. The most important person's opinion of you is you."
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The New York native has cultivated this empowering attitude as a result of years in the music industry, first starting out as a songwriter before becoming an artist herself and releasing multiple EPs before dropping her debut album, Expectations, last year.
Along with her music, Rexha has made headlines for promoting body positivity, including a social media post earlier this year when she called out designers who wouldn't dress her for the Grammys because of her size.
"As a young girl, I'd see supermodels on TV and in magazines and always look at myself in the mirror and be like, 'What's wrong with me? Why don't I look like that?'" she recalled. "And I remember being young and being on diets, trying to go on diets myself, and just feeling really bad about myself and not understanding why I didn't look like the beautiful supermodels."
Body image is something Rexha has struggled with in the past, but a journey toward self-acceptance has helped her to appreciate the person she's — pun intended — meant to be.
"I just had to learn how to love myself," the 29-year-old explained. "And I learned to say nice things to myself, because a lot of times I would say really mean things to myself. And I think it's a journey, it's an every day process. Some days you'll wake up and love yourself, some days you won't."
"It's just been an ongoing journey," she continued. "And I think as I kind of grow myself and become a woman, I feel like every day I become more of a woman. And I'm just learning to not care anymore what people think. I just want to be myself, and just be happy, live my life."
Thanks to the state of the internet in 2019, Rexha has dealt with her share of negative comments — many of which are about her figure. The singer admitted that while the words do sometimes get to her, she's learned to focus on her own opinion of herself, which is the most important thing.
"I'm human, and at the end of the day... I used to read one comment that was bad and it ruins your whole day, it hurts your feelings," she revealed. "I think that sometimes it can get really intense. And I think when you start loving yourself and you start being like, 'F that, this is who I am.' When you start loving yourself, it doesn't matter what people say."
"Because it's not your truth. Everybody in the world could love you and say you're beautiful. But if you don't believe it, then it doesn't matter," the "I'm a Mess" singer emphasized. "People could be body shaming you, and if you love yourself, then it doesn't matter that they're body shaming you because you love yourself. It's all about what's in your head and what you believe about yourself. And it's about working on yourself, and self love."
Rexha's new outlook is part of what led her to partner with RITAS for their #NeverApologize campaign, which aims to empower women and encourage them to own or reject negative labels they've received.0comments
"I feel like it's really important to show fans that they could be unapologetic and be who they are," she explained of the initiative. "I think the strongest thing you could do when you're trying to be yourself and break labels is to come together. And I feel like I'm coming together. It's two platforms, and just really standing for something, and breaking the mold, and breaking labeling."
Photo Credit: Getty / Theo Wargo