Alessia Cara on Feeling Beautiful and the First Time She Was Starstruck

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Ask Alessia Cara who her musical role models are, and you’ll get an answer you might not expect from the 20-year-old singer. “I loved Amy Winehouse, Pink, and Lauryn Hill,” she tells Teen Vogue, adding that the powerhouses didn’t care “about their image, they just cared about making music.”

It’s an outlook that may seem surprising in today’s social media-driven world, but it resonates perfectly with what Alessia is all about. The singer-songwriter shot to fame with the anthem “Here,” and her current single, “Scars To Your Beautiful,” has just as impactful a message: that beauty is subjective, and all that matters is how you view yourself.

“They weren’t really the conventional type of beauty, especially Amy,” Alessia explains about the icons who came before her. “It was just so different, and people learned to love her for her music because of that. That’s what I hope people do with me, and see me for the artist I am, rather than what I’m wearing or what I look like.”

She’s well on her way to achieving that goal, as “Scars To Your Beautiful” also features a powerful music video that showcases the beauty of so many different people (including fellow singer JoJo). The track also falls in line with a number of songs that directly address the antiquated beauty standards that so many women and men face every day. When asked how it felt to have her own work compared to the likes of Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” and TLC’s “Unpretty,” she says it’s something like a full-circle moment. “I listened to those songs growing up,” Alessia explains. “They helped me, it was therapy for me, so it’s really amazing to have my music in that category.

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We have a feeling Alessia will be sticking around for a while. A voice like that can’t be silenced — and hers is definitely necessary in this world. As for the moment she first realized she was beautiful? We’ll let Alessia explain it herself in the video below.

Related: Alessia Cara Gave Us the Best Advice for Learning How to Love Your Flaws