The singer sat down with Refinery29's Amy Emmerich on March 14 to discuss the negative impact of social media and what #ReclaimYourDomain means to her at SXSW. Here are the highlights:
Amy Emmerich and Kesha.
Conference goers and "animals" (a term of endearment coined by Kesha for her devoted fans) spent Tuesday afternoon listening to the global pop sensation and activist talk about ignoring the haters, becoming the person you want to be, and what it means to #ReclaimYourDomain.
Refinery29’s most recent service initiative, "Reclaim Your Domain," is meant to raise awareness and encourage people to stop cyberbullying and online harrassment, especially on social media platforms. "[It] is based off of service content," said Amy Emmerich, chief content officer of Refinery29, who moderated the panel. "We do a lot of tools, not rules. This stuff can live for a while and we can update it, [and] we are putting a lot of effort into serving the audience."
Among the most memorable moments from the Q&A was Kesha’s tearful explanation of her eating disorder and admittance to rehab, a cause she has been vocal about and supported on social media during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. "The only sense I can make in this life of going through something like that is to help other people," said Kesha. "Even though it’s hard for me to talk about, I have to."
Kesha’s personal experience with cyberbullying is something that has brought her closer to her fans, but has also pushed her farther away from the online world. "I participate with Instagram because it connects me with my fans," she said. "But aside from that, it’s not a healthy place for me. If I want to post something, if I’m really feelin’ myself—I’ll do it—but I try and limit myself in terms of reading comments. There could be a million positive comments, but I always gravitate toward the one negative comment; [I] hold onto that and internalize it."
Despite her aversion to posting personal content too frequently on social, Kesha remains an extremely vital part of the conversation and acts as a champion for her fans who have experienced or are experiencing harassment online. "If I see somebody having a hard time, I reach out," says Kesha. "I try to remind them that they are so special and things pass—everything passes, it's part of the journey. Nothing is permanent."
Kesha speaking at a SXSW panel about cyberbullying.
On what it means to #ReclaimYourDomain: "Someone once told me something pretty profound. They told me I was making people my higher power and I realized that I was. I was making trolls, bullies, and people I’d never met before the truth and my higher power. I was really sad. Over the past couple of years, I’ve become a woman in a lot of ways. I am reclaiming my personal space, my body, my confidence, my music, my life. I think online that it’s just as important to reclaim that space."
On finding herself: "You grow up trying to figure out what being a beautiful woman means. In my 20s I was trying to figure out how to be the kind of woman I wanted to be, which included a lot of different seemingly conflicting things. You can be a lot of different things as a woman, as a man or as anything in-between. You can be whatever the f-ck you want to be and nobody gets to define you."
On equality: "I vote and I fight for equality —LGBT equality, women’s rights, Muslim rights—everyone is equal and I will fight for that until the day I die."
On the good side of social media: "A perk of social media is you become aware of things you aren’t otherwise aware of. People send me different things I am otherwise unaware of and I try and spread the word. I try to pay it forward and do what I can for whoever needs it."
On embracing her body: "I’m just feelin’ myself a lot more than ever before. I used to just nitpick every little thing and it was f-cking exhausting. Now I look good naked! My boyfriend likes it. I like it. I’m not spending every day obsessing about something that is an unhealthy obsession. It’s really freeing and exciting that I’m able to sit here with you at 30 years old and say that I am in recovery. I never thought in a million years I would be able to say that. My body is saying, 'I feel good!'"
On what she would do if she lived to be 100: "I would want a cat sanctuary where I could rescue Ligers and take them back to their homeland. I would like to be known for helping rescue animals forever."
To find out more about the panel, check out the Q&A on refinery29.com.