Singer Camila Cabello (25) reveals in a particularly vulnerable message on Instagram how she is burdened by the continuous chases by paparazzi. A free afternoon at the beach is an agony as every bikini photo on the internet is dissected. She barely dares to breathe and holds her stomach in until it hurts. Camila ‘mourns’ herself as a 7-year-old when she felt freedom she now only sees in others.
It is hard to imagine for unknown people. You go to the beach on your day off, after which sites like the infamous Daily Mail pay big bucks for pictures of you in bikini. Or swimming trunks, but mostly women. The world reads that you ‘raised the temperatures’ by ‘showing off your curves’, as many a headline in articles about Camila goes.
In reality, the singer did not think for a second about telephoto lenses and the opinions of complete strangers when she went to her favorite beach club in recent years in a bikini that was sometimes a little too small. “I wasn’t preoccupied with what I looked like, but then I saw the photos and comments online and felt so bad.”
It got into Camila’s head. This week she bought a new bikini for an afternoon at the beach, put together an entire outfit and above all, she didn’t eat too much. “Because I knew it would actually be a complete photo shoot,” Cabello wrote to her 61 million followers.
“I held in my stomach so much my muscles ached, couldn’t breathe and barely laughed. I was so aware of the paparazzi all the time that I couldn’t find peace, as I should in nature. (…) I held my breath from my lounger to the sea.’
What’s healthy if you’re so preoccupied with your appearance that your mental health suffers and you can’t enjoy your life?
The contrast with the toddlers further on was stark. They laughed because the waves knocked them over. They hadn’t made themselves pretty, they weren’t insecure.
Camila at least hoped to feel satisfied, because the pictures turned out beautiful. “But I’ve never had such a bad time at the beach. I felt the pathetic and empty thoughts of our culture, which have now become my thoughts too.’
In that culture, we have an idea of what a healthy female body should look like, says Camila.
And she knows it’s bullshit. That with a little posing you suddenly look much slimmer. That almost all photos on Instagram are heavily photoshopped, that people don’t look like this when they’ve just eaten or just breathe out hard. She listens to podcasts about it. Follows women who are proud of their cellulite, stretch marks and normal tummy. But when she’s on the beach, she forgets it all. “Rationally, I know that my appearance doesn’t determine how healthy, happy or sexy I am. Emotionally I hear the messages of our culture very loud in my head.’
We praise women who look ‘healthy’, writes the Havana-singer. “But what’s healthy if you’re so preoccupied with your appearance that your mental health suffers and you can’t enjoy your life? Who am I supposed to look attractive to, and am I attractive to myself if I can’t let go and have fun on a beautiful day at the beach?’
Camila is working on herself and is in therapy. It’s focused on one thing: ‘To feel like I was a 7-year-old girl again, on the beach. I mourn her today. Happy, crazy, breathing, thinking she was a mermaid. Free.†
I know rationally that my appearance does not determine how healthy, happy or sexy I am. Emotionally I hear the messages of our culture very loud in my head
Camila’s story touches fans and colleagues deeply. “This makes me cry,” wrote Paris Hilton, who knows exactly what it’s like. “Thank you for writing this, so important for people to hear. You are beautiful inside and out.’
Singer Kesha wholeheartedly agrees with her. ‘You are a fucking queen and you are perfect. I recognize it, honey. Patriarchy wins when we starve ourselves. And for whom? New. Thank you for your honesty.’
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