If life's felt like it's operated in a minor-key dischord, you're not alone. Harmonizers the world over reeled when one fifth of their favorite girl group opted to leave the band in December 2016 but Camila Cabello’s explanation for why she left Fifth Harmony — if true — is something we should all cheer for instead of mourning.
She spoke to Lena Dunham about her departure from the band for Dunham's undeniably awesome Women of the Hour podcast. When she asked Cabello about the pressure on young women to "present themselves as full-time sex symbols," the singer agreed this had been problematic throughout her career:
Especially with being a girl group, there's been a lot of times where people have tried to sexualize us to just get more attention. Unfortunately, sex sells. There's definitely been times where there's stuff that I have not been comfortable with and I've had to put my foot down.
Bustle reached out to Fifth Harmony's publicist and Epic Records for comment, but did not receive an immediate response.
Cabello joined the band when she was just 15 years old, and she claims she found aspects of the band's aesthetic difficult at such a young age:
I feel like it’s been tricky because we’ve had to grow into ourselves while being in front of the world and while making songs that did have a lot of sexual undertones. There’s nothing wrong with showing sexuality. If you have that inside, it’s just an expression of who you are. If you want to share that with people, that’s amazing.
But she went on to stress that it's when you don't feel like sharing that with people that things get more uncomfortable. Cabello also warned against young women feeling pressured into situations they weren't comfortable with, saying, "I think the thing that I would say to young women is, if you’re not ready for it, put your foot down."
Amen to that. While girl band members in skimpy clothes have become de facto in the entertainment industry, it's hard to imagine that every single woman either singing with, or aspiring to sing with, a girl group automatically wants to celebrate their sexuality while they're still discovering it. After all, the girl band members found on the sorts of reality shows that Cabello was discovered on like The X Factor are often in their teens when first launched to superstardom.
It's a time of life when many women's bodies are still changing. Combine that with sexy outfits and intense media focus, and it's easy to see why some women might feel uncomfortable.
It's great that Cabello stresses the obvious, that being a sexual being isn't anything to feel ashamed about and that if you feel strong, sexy and confident about your body, you should be free to dress however you want and celebrate that in public. But we're living in a hypersexual era, which means that these messages — you're young, you're hot, bare your body — are often pretty loud in comparison to the less popular, less oft-embraced stance of, hey, maybe I don't want to be sexualized in public yet and that should be fine, too. Both ways are valid, as long as it's the woman's choice.
When Cabello auditioned for The X Factor, she was auditioning to be a singer. She was auditioning on the basis of her amazing voice, not her body. If she really has defected from the band for this reason, then it's a smart move; her powerful statement says it all. It's important to do what makes you happy; that's you, not the people you hang out with and not society around you. If Cabello wants to do nothing but rock oversized sweaters and sing to audiences who are bewitched by her for her voice, not her sexuality, then we should celebrate that.