Since her chart-topping single “Havana,” which dives into her upbringing in Havana, Cuba, Camila Cabello has been a voice for immigrants and Dreamers. But the 21-year-old singer wasn’t always this comfortable with her Cuban-Mexican background.
In an interview with Glamour, the former Fifth Harmony member opened up about the insecurities she associated with her skin tone, dark hair, and brown eyes from not seeing Latinas like her in popular culture growing up. Though she grew up in a primarily Latin neighborhood, her insecurities still led her to wanting to be blonde with blue eyes to fit in with the white singers she saw on-screen and in auditions.
“The good thing was I grew up around a lot of Latin people in Miami. It was a melting pot of cultures. I wasn’t surrounded by one type of person,” Cabello said. “But still, there was a period when I really wanted light eyes. It was only as I got older that I was like, ‘I like my brown eyes, I like my black hair, I like my skin. I don’t need to be blonde and blue-eyed.'”
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Cabello’s insecurities also affected her confidence in pursuing a music career. Growing up with immigrant parents, she thought a dream of becoming a singer was far-fetched compared to her competitors who came from more financially stable backgrounds.
“I didn’t even think that [music] was a plausible career for me, because I was living in Miami with immigrant parents who just wanted me to focus on school,” she said. “Everybody I went to auditions with was born in L.A. or New York [with means]. There was nobody I could look up to. I didn’t see myself represented in pop culture.”
Though she’s far from thinking of herself as perfect, Cabello is fine with that. As she’s met more people who are perfectly imperfect, she’s learned that her lingering insecurities, like her crooked teeth, are what make her unique.
“There are still things I’m insecure about, like my crooked teeth, but I think part of beauty is accepting imperfections,” she said. “The more I meet people and see the world, the more I realize it’s those little quirks—a birthmark, a crooked tooth, a scar—that makes you you. As they say with art: Perfect is boring.”
Cabello’s experience is not unusual. Representation affects how a lot of people see themselves growing up. Props to her for speaking out and being that face that Latina girls like her can look up to.