There’s random singing interludes of Justin Bieber’s Yummy, fierce statements punctuated with finger clicks and hair tosses and a real aura of genuine friendship between the five returning members of The Pussycat Dolls, Ashley Roberts, Kimberly Wyatt, Jessica Sutta, Nicole Scherzingerand Carmit Bachar.
Paws up on the sofa in their “Pussy Penthouse,” as we will later jokingly label it, The Pussycat Dolls are laughing and SERVING the chat throughout their interview.
As someone who spent their first ‘girls’ holiday’ in Tenerife (chiccc) recreating the now iconic chair routine that accompanied the mega hit, Buttons, with my best friends, The Pussycat Dolls hold a special place in my heart. And as their latest video for comeback single, React shows they throw everything – include vagina defying splits – at any given situation. Even with severe jet lag they do not disappoint and IRL they are truly larger than life.
Crucially, however, they are more honest than ever as I rapidly found out as we discuss the sexisttreatment of the band in the press, their changing relationship with their body image and why the sisterhood of The Pussycat Dolls is stronger than ever…
You’ve got back together, and has it ever felt so good?
Jessica: It feels amazing, I love being back with the girls, it feels so powerful.
Ashley: I think what is great is we are women. It feels like no time has passed but so much life has happened. Speaking for myself I am getting close to 40 and I feel more connected to my body than I ever have before and it’s nice to bring that to the stage!
What do you think is the biggest difference in the relationship you have with your body now compared to when you were first in the band?
Kimberly: Having 3 children has really changed my life, changed my body and it’s an ever-changing relationship. But even in the insecurity finding the empowerment and the celebration of my body has been really amazing. Being back with the girls really helps with that, too.
Carmit: My daughter is 8 years-old and my body will never be what it was. We both (Kimberly) had c-sections so there is a disconnection in your core which as a dancer is a huge part of feeling centred and feeling your body. So, having compassion for where you are in your life and what you have created in a child is a whole new thing. Being back in these costumes it definitely challenges you. You look at yourself and judge yourself. It’s not about getting back to what I was but instead moving forward in the best possible version of yourself and empowering yourself. It’s taken a lot. All of our bodies have changed but I know when it comes to your mental space you have to be gentle and compassionate with yourself. You have to love all the curves and that is what makes us women. That is what makes us sexy. We work so hard so for us to be so judgemental of ourselves is just crazy. We look back at older pictures now and I think why did I beat myself up?
Nicole: I think for me personally, I have spoken out a bit about having a lot of issues with my body. With my state of mind, it has been a complete 180, I know just accept myself. When you are growing up you are so hard on yourself, you nit-pick, you compare, you beat yourself up and where does that get you? Except for hating yourself and hurting. We are all meant for great things and great purpose, we should instead enjoy life. Especially what just happened with our friend Kobe Bryant, it shows life is so short and you have to love yourself, love each moment and love each other. The key change for me is acceptance. It’s crazy how much I used to beat myself up. It’s ok to fluctuate. It’s also such a great time for women with Lizzo leading the way with body acceptance for everyone no matter your shape or size.
Was there a specific moment that changed your approach to body image?
Carmit: It’s age for me.
Kimberly: For me it was having a little girl and knowing she was looking at me when I was looking at myself in the mirror. I became very conscious of how I was talking about myself and my reflection.
The headlines about you tend to be very sexist in tone and focus on how ‘provocative’ your costumes are. What do you think about this ‘sexy shaming’?
Ashley: I was told by someone that at my age I should be dressing more conservatively and not as sexy. It made me think, “do I feel that way?” as it should be the opposite. We should be able to choose when we want to be sexy. We as women need to build a space where no matter your quirkiness, your curves or whatever you have got you can come to us and feel accepted.
Kimberly: It’s a reflection of the people who are writing it and responding to it. I just think, “why do you have such a problem with women being sexy and being comfortable in their bodies?” Because we are just celebrating our power. People need to get over it and it’s time to celebrate whoever you are.
Carmit: There are different age groups and different levels of acceptance. It may not be something you want your 5-year-old to see but as you get older you are going to see everything. I know my mother was a dancer and she always taught me to celebrate my body and express myself. Our intention behind it is only positive. We are not doing anything overt, it’s for performance and appreciation.
Nicole: I like the use of the word intention. When we wear clothes like that we come out as dancers, performers and as warriors and that is our intention. You don’t see us floundering around out there, you see us killing ourselves. We are killing it and empowering others whilst we do it.
Kimberly: Sometimes the media don’t get it and they want their click bait. But the audience gets it, they understand the power of it. Sometimes the power of a woman scares some people.
Then there are always the infighting stories that are lazily attached to girl groups – how does it make you feel when you see those stories?
Carmit: We don’t pay attention to that stuff. It’s white noise.
Nicole: It’s sad that they pit women together. They don’t do that with boy groups. They just do it with girls. It’s hard because it’s so important for women to support each other. We, as women, are the only ones who really know and we can really empathise with one another, and be there for one another, and connect in the only way we can. So, it’s sad.
Ashley: I use Magic Mike as an example a lot as when they come on everyone screams. When we come out, they say we are like, ‘prostitutes.’ But we are trained, professional dancers!
Carmit: It is frustrating at times. My daughter who is 8 made a comment about the costumes too and she’s starting to realise what is going on. I am trying to explain to her I wouldn’t drop her off to school wearing that, it’s for performance and expression.
If you could sit the younger you down who was starting out in The Pussycat Dolls what would you want to say to them?
Nicole: First of all, don’t be hard on yourself, period! I was just so hard on myself and secondly be more present and enjoy it. That is one of the reasons I was excited for us to come back because now I can actually be present and enjoy it as it goes passed so quickly. Don’t get into that worm hole of reading things about yourself and loosing yourself and wasting precious time in mindless stuff. Instead invest in mindful stuff as that will really make the difference.
Kimberley: Don’t take it so seriously and enjoy being 20 years old and not having injuries! The recovery is a whole other ball game when you get older.
Jessica: If you are not present, the world and you are missing out, too!
Kimberley: We have all learnt that validation comes from within – so that is another thing.