During an exclusive interview with MailOnline on Wednesday, Zara Larsson spoke about the importance of standing up for what’s right, and called out the current sexualisation of young teenagers by adult men in her home country of Sweden.
The Lush Life hitmaker, 22, also revealed the importance of maintaining a normal life with her boyfriend, family, and friends, after getting her first taste of fame at the age of 10 when she won the Swedish equivalent of Britain’s Got Talent.
Speaking to promote her new Superdry Icons Of Style collection, she said: ‘I was 10 when I was on that show and I think I expected to be the next big superstar but that didn’t happen at all, nothing happened afterwards which is the most often the case, it doesn’t guarantee you any career.
‘I then went back to school. I lived a normal life and then I released my first song as an artist when I was 15, which is still really young, but those five years a lot happened in terms of my mental and physical development which was important.
‘I don’t feel like I missed out on anything after appearing on the show, I would say I had a really normal childhood and a really normal time during teenage years, just like my friends.
‘On top of that I got to experience fun things with music, so I’m super grateful, and I still live a super normal life.’
For the blonde beauty, she believes maintaining her enduring relationships with friends and family is imperative, and it has influenced her decision to keep her current relationship out of the public eye.
She added: ‘I am dating someone, we are very happy, we’ve known each other for a lot of years.
‘Our relationship is super chill and private which is nice because my last relationship was very public. It’s cute because I realise as I get older, my life doesn’t need to be a spectacle for other people.’
Aside from spending quality time with her nearest and dearest during the pandemic, the Swedish pop sensation is focused on producing new music and has a new album in the works.
She also uses her public platform to speak out against issues that fellow women and teenagers face.
In September, Zara called out a male Swedish singer on Instagram for grooming a 15 year old fan, in a bid to raise awareness about the exploitation of teenagers in her home country, and also in the global music industry.
The singer is disgusted that the age of consent in her home country allows the predatory behaviour to continue, as she said to MailOnline: ‘That was a musical artist who is quite big in Sweden, I don’t want to mention his name, but what is f*****d about it is, it is not criminal because the age of consent in Sweden is 15.
‘And it is so much bigger than that one person, it is more about the culture about why we are ok seeing a grown a*s man with a young teenager, I just think it’s weird! And why are his friends not saying anything? Why is everyone ok with that?
‘I think it happens way too much and I saw that in the comments on my Instagram post, a lot of girls said, “I was 15 and he was 30,” or, “I was 15 and he was 27, I never realised at that age that what we did was not really consensual.”‘
For Zara, she feels it is important for young girls not to feel ashamed or weak if they are put in a vulnerable situation, and instead, we should open up the dialogue in society to question how this continues to happen.
She added: ‘I get it why being a young person you would want to hang out with older people, it’s new, it’s exciting, it’s cool. But it’s not cool for a grown person to hang out with a young kid.
‘I definitely felt like I needed to speak out about the topic as a whole, because this is something I have seen way too many times.
‘I have also been a young girl who thought “oh my god, these older boys, they just think I’m so mature, so special.” But really no, that’s not the case, you’re just young and your easy to manipulate because your brain isn’t fully developed.
‘It gets even weirder when it comes from musicians who abuse their power with their biggest fans. It puts them in a position of power that they can just so easily abuse, it’s so strange, it really is, and it’s just not ok.’
Zara has also publicly spoken against companies who don’t align with her morals and ethics.
For the pop star, she feels that her new Icons of Style jacket collection with Superdry aligns with her beliefs, her personal brand, and her flair for sporty fashion.
She said: ‘It was a good lesson learned for being extra cautious about people you attach your name too, but I feel really confident with Superdry and their work.
‘The collection is good quality but it’s affordable so my friends and family can buy it, and it’s actually my dad’s favourite brand, he loves it.’
Her Autumn/Winter 2020 edit features six iconic jackets in metallic and autumnal hues for a timeless yet edgy look.
Zara’s collection allows her to make a statement with her ensembles while maintaining comfort and practicality, as she added: ‘Winter and fall is coming up. I love jackets, it’s my favourite thing to shop for.
‘I’m always the type of person who doesn’t want to take off my jacket because I know it’s part of the outfit, and I also love to be comfortable in sweats.
‘I’m quite a sporty girl, and Superdry have a lot of that which I really love. ‘
LZara revealed that she likes to mix and match her fashion, and one of her major style influencers is Rihanna as she admires her ‘versatile’ and ‘experimental’ style.
Another artistic influence in her life is her sister Hanna, who also happens to be in a contemporary R&B duo named Lennixx.
Zara commends her younger sister, 20, for her creative tenacity, and hopes to collaborate with her in the future: ‘She is so f*****g cool, she is so musical, she is so independent and she knows what she wants.
‘I am a little bit jealous of her and I think she is a little bit jealous of me… I think she discovers her art in her own pace and own way.
‘I am still figuring out who I am as a musician, but I think the older I get the easier it is to know and feel comfortable saying “no” to things, even though I am a people pleaser. I am still trying to evolve and develop but I think it just comes with time.
‘I would love to collaborate with her! We have said we need to collaborate on a song together, I would love that actually.’