Bebe Rexha Says Her Confidence Came From Not Loving Herself: ‘It Made Me Stronger’

'I think people are craving real, they don’t want to see fake anymore,' says Rexha.

Bebe Rexha performs onstage during day two of Nickelodeon's Second Annual SlimeFest at Huntington Bank Pavilion on June 09, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois.
Timothy Hiatt / Getty Images

'I think people are craving real, they don’t want to see fake anymore,' says Rexha.

It wasn’t that long ago that Bebe Rexha was more prominent in the liner notes of smash hits rather than as the primary artist. Quiet as kept, one look at her discography shows a talented songwriter that has had her fingerprints all over some of the most notable pop singles of the past decade. That all changed in 2017 with “Meant To Be,” Rexha’s collaboration with Florida Georgia Line – a song that spent 50 weeks at the top of the U.S. Hot Country Songs chart and allowed the well-known songwriter and featured artist to reach her full potential in the limelight.

However, with the spotlight came more scrutiny that had little to do with her talent; it was, instead, focused on her body shape and weight. This came to a head when she was nominated for the 2019 Grammys. Rexha had two nominations, but when her team sought out designers for her to wear to the event, they were told that she was too big to fit their clothing. In response, Rexha took to Instagram and issued a powerful statement capped by the hashtag “#LOVEYOURBODY.” The outpouring of support was immense, showcasing the honesty that her fans loved her so much for to the world.

Rexha has since teamed up with Anheuser Busch and RITAS to continue spreading her message of confidence and body positivity through the #NeverApologize campaign. With a new album and a tour with the reunited Jonas Brothers on the way, Rexha’s unapologetic campaign is just going to get bigger.

Terrence Smith: First things first, you are about to be going on probably the biggest tour of the year. How excited are you?

Bebe Rexha: I’m super excited! I think it definitely is one of the biggest tours. It’s very cool, it’s very nostalgic. Seeing the Jonas Brothers on Disney Channel growing up, now I’m finally able to go on tour with them. I’m excited to hang out with them, they’ve become like brothers to me.

I’ve gone on tour with Nick in the past and I’ve become a very big ‘Game of Thrones’ fan, so I’m really excited about that. I’m a big fan of Sophie and I’ve never met her. Just performing! I think it’s going to be 1.4 million people on the whole tour, that’s what I’ve been told with tickets sold. It’s an incredible opportunity and I’m really grateful for them.

TS: You’re no stranger to big tours, having been on the road with Nick. How will this be different?

BR: Oh my gosh, it’s going to be on such a much larger scale. We’ve been working on the creative and the stage setup, it’s really incredible and it’s massive. It’s going to be a proper show. I’m really excited to also be able to put on a really amazing performance and entertain people. It’s a different ballgame, you know?

TS: Has the dynamic changed now that you’ve become an even bigger superstar in your own right?

BR: It’s really exciting, I remember going on tour with Nick first when I was just starting out. I had some die-hard fans but this is going to be a lot different. I’ll have a lot of my fans in the audience and a lot of their fans who I can hopefully make my fans. It’s just an incredible opportunity. I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited for a tour before.

TS: So you have this major summer hit with the Chainsmokers (‘Call You Mine’) and just teased a new single with Pete Wentz (‘Heaven Sent’), fans want to know, there has to be an album on the way?

BR: Well, I released ‘Expectations’ last year, almost exactly a year ago. That was really exciting for me because that was the first time I could put an album out and get over my fear of being rejected. That was my first step into putting music out, putting a body of work out. I think with this album it’s really important to be myself and stick to my sound. I’ve had a lot of incredible collaborations, but I think it’s time to really show who I am and what I’m inspired by. It’s definitely a lot more rock-based, I’ve been very inspired by Queen.

It’s very unapologetic and I’m talking about… Oh my gosh! Turning 30 and not being 20 anymore because I feel so much more amazing in my skin as a woman, not fitting to people’s standards. I’m putting in how I feel and what I’ve been standing for. I really feel I’ve been standing for loving yourself and being unapologetic which is why I collaborated with RITAS. I love their whole campaign and concept.

I kind of feel that I’ve become a woman and I put that into the album, wanting to just really help women and men and boys and girls all around the world to be unapologetic. So that’s what the album is. On August 30, I’m releasing a song called ‘I’m Not 20 Anymore’ because I’m turning 30. On the tour, we’re actually going to be in my hometown, which is so weird, at Madison Square Garden. My whole family is going to be there, and it’s going to be on my birthday. That’s going to be insane. I can’t wait, it’s going to be really powerful.

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TS: So talking about RITAS and the #NeverApologize campaign. Tell me a little bit about it and why you got involved.

BR: After the whole Grammy thing, where I was really excited because I was nominated for the first time, for ‘Meant To Be’ and Best New Artist. It was a really important time in my life, and I was really excited. Then the whole thing happened where I wanted to get a dress made for me and a lot of the designers said ‘no’ to me because I wasn’t a certain size or I don’t fit in the size 0 or size 2 they made. It kind of did something to me, mentally. It made me stronger. It made me really upset and hurt and sad, but it made me strong.

I was very vocal with my fans on the internet and they just connected with it, and I’ve never felt so connected with my fans. So, I’ve been very unapologetic with my fans and who I am and what I stand for.

Also, I like a good drink, I won’t lie about that. I like to be with my friends, have a couple of drinks, and I love lime margaritas. So I love RITAS. When they came to me for this campaign idea, I said, ‘I’m kind of down for that.’ A lot of times when females drink it has this negative connotation to it. It’s like, girl gets sloppy and carrying her heels after the club. So I’m like, ‘If I’m going to do that, I’m going to do that.’ If anybody is going to label me, I’m going to label myself. I just love the fact that a bigger company can just stand for something. That’s really very cool. It just makes sense with everything I believe in, who I am, and it just felt like a great collaboration.

TS: Millions of fans love you because you’re so open and honest about your body, were you always able to be so confident or was it a process?

BR: I think the confidence came from, to be honest, not loving myself at all, hitting a low point. I think in the media for women, I always saw supermodels on the runway, in the magazines. All these super skinny girls. I always felt that to be anything in life you need to be a certain way, and I think for women it’s a lot harder. I got to a point where I didn’t really like myself at all. I would say really mean things to myself. After a while, something just clicked in my head and you can’t really talk to yourself like that. So I just started working on myself, working on loving myself, and saying nice things to myself.

I was just saying to my friends, ‘A lot of times we give other people compliments and we make them feel good, like what if we gave ourselves compliments?’ I never do that to myself, like ‘I look good today,’ you know what I mean? ‘My ass looks good today’ or ‘my thighs look good today.’ It was always just the negative. For me, it’s been like growing into myself, and I’ve learned that people can love themselves, but it’s a journey. One day you’re going to love yourself, then one day you’re not going to love yourself. I think it’s just like working at it. I definitely wasn’t always unapologetic and confident.

TS: It feels like we’re in this weird cultural place where on one side you see body positivity at the forefront of so much, but it’s juxtaposed against so many insults and critiques online and in the media. Do you think we have turned the corner on the issue or is there much more work to be done?

BR: I actually see a difference, I don’t know what’s happening, but in the last month, I’ve been seeing an actual difference. I love the fact that through social media you can connect with your fans, but at a certain point, it was getting a little too intense with all of the perfection. I think now people want real and raw and honest.

I could post a pretty picture of myself and I could look beautiful and it could get 400,000 likes, but the second I post something real and raw it gets over a million likes. I think people are craving real; they don’t want to see fake anymore. I think we’re heading in the direction of honesty and realness.