By Shammara Lawrence
Bebe Rexha is on the up and up. The internationally-acclaimed musician had an incredible 2018 — in June, she dropped, Expectations, her long-awaited debut album which skyrocketed up the charts shortly after its release and helped earn her two Grammy nominations — and this year is already gearing up to be another one for the books.
Her latest song, "Last Hurrah," dropped on February 15 to much fanfare. A catchy track with an upbeat melody, the song speaks candidly about the difficulty of letting go of bad habits and showcases her powerful voice and knack for creating music with genuine emotion and lyrics. It came with a powerful video to match, as the “Last Hurrah” clip sees Rexha dancing, partying, and drinking the night away, before pledging to give up the indulgent lifestyle for good.
Known for being incredibly transparent in her music and everyday life, Bebe isn’t afraid to speak her mind whenever a situation calls for it. She reignited a longstanding conversation about the lack of size inclusivity in the fashion industry after some designers allegedly refused to dress her for the Grammy Awards because she was “too big.” Disappointed, the singer used Instagram to send the message that all body types are worthy and deserve to be seen in beautiful dresses. “If a size 6 [or] 8 is too big, then I don’t know what to tell you. Then I don’t want to wear your fucking dresses,” she said in a now-viral video. The clip led to an outpouring of support from fans and designers alike. Ultimately, she was able to work with the Middle Eastern label Monsoori, who created a breathtaking voluminous red tulle gown for her to wear on the big night. Still, it goes to show that the luxury fashion space has ways to go in how designers view people above a sample size.
MTV News caught up with Rexha to talk about her new single, the accompanying music video, and why she refuses to let people shame her, for both her body and how she expresses herself creatively.
MTV News: Can you explain the creative process of creating “Last Hurrah?” What was the meaning behind the song?
Bebe Rexha: It’s about vices and bad habits; it was originally written about chocolate cake. None of us are perfect and we all have something that we can’t shake off — whether that be a certain food, smoking cigarettes or drinking, we all have vices. There's a level of sarcasm to the song: [it’s about] not taking yourself seriously and not judging yourself. It's essentially about, don't judge other people or think that they are better than you because we all have our vices.
MTV News: Where did the concept for the music video come from?
Rexha: I wanted to do a video about raw human nature. People have their crazy moments and everybody has their stories. I feel like everybody [has done] something bad in their life whether that’s drinking or whatever that may be — cheating, going back to your ex-lover [or] going to the wrong person.
Someone saw my video and was like, “You should cover those stretch marks [that appear in one scene].” And I was like, we’re not covering those stretch marks, absolutely not. It’s about acceptance of everything.
MTV News: A couple weeks back, you reignited a decades-old conversation about size inclusivity in fashion with a video on your Instagram page saying that some designers didn’t want to dress you for the Grammy Awards. What was the response like from the fashion community after the post went up?
Rexha: It was 50/50. I had a lot of designers who are more inclusive reach out, and the younger generation, who I think will grow and be better at accepting all sizes of woman, showed me support. The week leading up [to the Grammys], I had so much love. Jeremy Scott and August Getty sent me stuff. Karl Lagerfeld sent me pieces from his latest collections, and that was really special to me. Christian Siriano and Michael Costello hit me up. The love was very real and now I know who has my back.
MTV News: Did you have any reservations about posting the video?
Rexha: Yeah, for sure. I had a conversation with somebody and it really upset me. I was actually in the studio that day and I couldn’t focus because I was so upset, so I made the video, but I decided not to post it because I was scared it would have backlash. But when I woke up the next day, I still felt really bummed about this and was like, “I have to post this video.” I’ve been sent things [before] and none of it fit, which was annoying.
MTV News: What has your experience been like when looking for outfits for red carpet appearances — do you get the same sort of feedback from designers?
Rexha: I work with people who definitely know how to work with my body. And I wear stretchy things and corsets because I have curves. Overall, I have pretty strong team and they know that I know my body and want to dress a certain way. Sometimes I get a few things in and they don’t fit. It’s very discouraging but I feel like everybody goes through that — when you go to the store and you’re excited, but you try on everything and nothing looks good. I feel like that’s just life.
I’m very blessed to do what I love, but I’m still human and I still go through what regular women go through. It’s an everyday battle of loving your body and loving yourself and you have to constantly be positive with yourself, but it does suck when you have to go on a red carpet and you can’t find anything to fit you or you feel bloated.
MTV News: How did you approach working with Monsoori, who created the gown you ended up wearing to the Grammys?
Rexha: I saw my dress on Instagram, and I was like, “Oh my God.” Monsoori is amazing; the dress arrived from the Middle East and I was really nervous because it had traveled all that way. Before I tried it on, I was so nervous because I wanted to have this moment of feeling like a princess because I never usually dresses like that. I usually wear things more form-fitting. When I put it on, I was like, “This is my dress.” I felt in love with it immediately.
MTV News: Who are some of your favorite designers you’ve worked with — for either red carpet appearances or just to wear in your everyday life?
Rexha: The person I’ve really connected to the most and never judged me is Jeremy Scott. He has an incredible spirit and makes you feel like you’re special. Even from the beginning, he invited me to [his] fashion shows. There would be tons of people waiting in line to meet with him and he would meet with everybody. Even to this day, I can hit him up. He has options and sizes for me. He’s such an awesome person. It’s so cool to meet someone who’s had such big success and is still creative and is not pretentious and inclusive. I’ve met designers who aren’t very nice and I feel like no matter who you are, [I believe in] that saying, “It’s nice to be important but it’s more important to be nice.”
MTV News: Is there any advice would you give to your fans who are struggling to find peace in their bodies?
Rexha: I have moments of doing it and not doing it, but I think the one thing that works for me is taking care of yourself. I hate exercising — it’s the worst thing ever — but when I do exercise, I find myself loving my body more.
Just take good care of yourself in whatever way that works: [going to] a therapist, talking to someone, meditating, or being with friends. I’ve learned that we say a lot of mean things to ourselves, especially when we look at ourselves in the mirror. I do it all the time too. But you have to start saying positive things to yourself.
Somebody actually sat down with me and they were like, “Name five things you don’t like about yourself,” and I was like this, this, and, this. And then they were like, “Name five things that you love about yourself,” and that took me a second. But you can’t be so hard on yourself. People make it seem like self-love is so easy, but self-love is a constant journey.