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Bebe Rexha and Taylor Swift join forces to challenge claims women over 29 are “too old to be sexy”

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Christobel Hastings
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Bebe Rexha Grammy Awards red dress

Bebe Rexha is no stranger to sharing a body positive message online. So when she ended up on the receiving end of sexist commentary about her body, she defied her critics with an empowering post encouraging women to embrace themselves exactly as they are. 

Another day, another man making unsolicited sexist comments about a woman. Whether it’s complaining that a woman’s lipstick causes sexual distraction in the workplaceasserting that women in their 30s are reproductively redundant, or comparing women to Starbucks coffee (Tall, Blonde or Americano?) sometimes it feels as though the stupidity will never cease.

But whenever a woman in the public eye is confronted with uncalled-for criticism, you can guarantee that a creative clapback will follow suit. This time around, that dubious honour fell to Bebe Rexha.

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Few amongst us could have predicted that an unpleasant experience of sexism in the music industry would result in an unlikely form of #MondayMotivation yesterday, but that’s exactly what went down when the Grammy-nominated singer took to social media to speak her mind.

In the caption, Rexha shared a story of a male music producer who recently imparted a bewildering sexist commentary suggesting that she was “too old to be sexy”.

“I recently had a MALE music executive tell me that I was getting ‘too old’ and that my brand was ‘confusing’,” Rexha began.

“Because…I’m a songwriter and I post sexy pics on my Instagram and that’s not what female songwriters are suppose [sic] to do, especially for my age. I’m 29.”

The “Meant to Be” singer went on to call out the pervasive ageism in the music industry, highlighting the toxic double standard whereby older women are condemned as ‘hags’ while older men are celebrated as sexy.

“I’m fed up with being put in a box. I make my own rules. I’m tired of women getting labeled as “hags” when they get old and guys get labeled as sexy with age,” she continued.

Looking ahead to her 30th birthday, Rexha then vowed to confront outdated stereotypes, and instead celebrate all the positive attributes that come with getting older.

“Anyways, I’m turning 30 on August 30 and you know what, I’m not running away from it. I’m not gonna lie about my age or sing songs that I feel will sell better because they sound “younger.” 

“I’m gonna celebrate my age because you know what, I’m wiser, I’m stronger and TRUST ME I’m a much better lover than I was 10 years ago.”

Rexha’s inspiring post prompted a show of celebrity support, including fellow 29-year-old singer Taylor Swift, who turned on caps lock to write: “DRAG THEM. 29 YEAR OLDS UNITE.”

Rita Ora wrote also showed her solidarity, writing: “My sexy songwriting queen. You are beautiful, getting sexier with age and your talent SINGS for itself. Keep making those rules.”

Natasha Bedingfield also applauded the singer for speaking out, commenting: “I know this story and this kind of ‘advice’ is so bullsh**. I love you!”. Meanwhile singer Anastacia wrote: “I got my recording deal at 30 years old, Gurl, If you’re old…I’m ancient. Let the haters hate.”

Elsewhere model Leomie Anderson posted: “Thank you for not allowing these d***heads to make you shrink yourself to fit into their idea of what a woman in the music industry should be. You’re bad b**** bebe and no I didn’t stutter.”

Rexha is no stranger to sharing her body positive messages online. Recently, she shared a paparazzi photo taken as she shopped for groceries simply “cause it’s real”, and on another occasion, posted a candid bikini photo in a bid to highlight the rarity of seeing unretouched images of women online.

“I probably should of photoshopped my stomach and made it look flat,” she wrote. “I probably should of photoshopped my legs to make them look thinner. I probably should of made myself look taller and Smoothed my legs. But I didn’t. Society can really fuck with you. Here is what a real woman looks like on Instagram without photoshop.”

In an age where media images of women are meticulously airbrushed, and impossible beauty standards pile on the pressure to attain physical perfection, Rexha’s no-nonsense message couldn’t be more refreshing. Here’s to more images of real women, celebrating their bodies and speaking their minds. Because, quite frankly, we deserve them. 

Image: Getty