In her breakout hit, “Here”, Alessia Cara asks to be excused for seeming like an “anti-social pessimist,” but in truth the 21-year-old singer is a determined force for positive change.
“A lot of people call me a rebel without a cause sometimes, but I don’t think that’s the case, I think I definitely have a cause, I’m saying things that I believe in and I’m speaking against things that I don’t believe in...I think I’m my most powerful when i’m unapologetic and I’m speaking my mind,” she told Billboard in an interview.
The Canadian singer has been using her unique voice to deliver a message of empowerment and self-acceptance.
Her song “Scars to Your Beautiful” has been celebrated as an anthem of self-love and acceptance and its accompanying video, which features transgender models and cancer survivors, recently won a “Best Fight Against the System” award at the MTV 2017 Video Music Awards.
“I made [the song] for young women like myself, because I think the media's beauty standards affect us the most,” she told Teen Vogue. “But it wasn’t until I released the song that I realized how many other people were affected and connected to it, whether it was older men or women. But that's the beauty of it. It proves that so many people, regardless of if we think so or not, are affected by that kind of message.”
When she realized that her song had touched such a wide range of people she made sure to show all forms of beauty in her music video.
"I wanted all kinds of people — young, old, whatever their situation, whether it's visible scars, non-visible scars — just a bunch of different women, and there are some men in there as well, because it can reach out to guys too,” she told Cosmopolitan magazine. “I wanted real shots of real people telling their stories, and showing the story through little vignettes."
Her songs stem from her own experiences, insecurities, and desire to reach out to others and let them know they are not alone.
“The song ‘Here’ was just initially about a party I didn’t like, but people turned it into this song that speaks for a demographic that doesn’t have a voice like introverts and people who feel different, all of a sudden my music became something way more and it wasn’t just mine anymore,” Cara told Billboard.
The fiercely independent singer has been an inspiration to young girls and women in particular.
“As a female, and someone who’s young, I’m still coming into my own and I still have struggles,” she told Newsweek. “I know how I look, I know what my flaws are—I don’t need anybody to tell me that.”
But there’s “no better you than the you that you are,” as Cara sings in “Scars to Your Beautiful.” You should be true to yourself, and the world who should accept you as you are. That’s the message she wants everyone to hear, and it’s also the reason she refuses to wear makeup whenever she performs the song.
“The girl I am talking about, it’s me, it’s you — it’s every girl who has struggled with feeling not good enough,” she told Glamour magazine of her music. Cara teamed up with I AM THAT GIRL, a nonprofit that encourages girls to move away from self-doubt toward self-love by creating safe spaces to support girls everywhere.
“At this point, we [girls] really need to lift each other up… we’re living in a very scary time,” she told Newsweek. “We can’t have any progress unless we just help each other, love each other, and it starts with us. The definition of ‘feminism’ is equality for all genders. It’s not saying women are superior, it’s not anti-men… it’s equality for women. I am a feminist and if you’re not at this point, you’re dated and your mindset needs to change.”
She is proud to be lending her voice to those who need it. And following her recent tour with fellow Global Citizens Coldplay, she’ll be raising her voice on behalf of others at the 2017 Global Citizen Festival in Central Park on Sept. 23. You can take action to earn tickets to the festival here.
The powerful singer is simply not afraid to make her own rules and speak up for what she believes in: equality.