The 19-year-old singer chatted with Lena Dunham on her podcast, Women of the Hour, about how she felt she sexualized at a young age while in the girl group whose four remaining members are Ally Brooke, 23, Normani Kordei, 20, Dinah Hansen, 19, and Lauren Jauregui, 20.
"Especially with being a girl group, there’s been a lot of times where people have tried to sexualize us to just get more attention," she explained. "Unfortunately, sex sells."
"I feel like it’s been tricky because we’ve had to grow into ourselves while being in front of the world and while making songs that did have a lot of sexual undertones," Cabello said of her time in Fifth Harmony. "There’s nothing wrong with showing sexuality. If you have that inside, it’s just an expression of who you are. If you want to share that with people, that’s amazing."
The Cuban-born musician -- who recently shared bikini pics of herself on Instagram in Cancun, Mexico -- also had a message for women out there who might find themselves having similar feelings. "I think the thing that I would say to young women is, if you’re not ready for it, put your foot down," she continued.
Last month, Fifth Harmony released a statement on social media about Cabello leaving the group, and praised the fans for their support. "You Harmonizers have been there with us since the beginning, you've supported us, you've rejoiced and cried with us, you've grown with us, and with your love and support we will continue on," the statement said. "We are four strong, committed women who will continue with Fifth Harmony as well as our solo endeavors. We are excited for our future, and we can't wait for what the new year brings."
The girl group is to give their first performance without Cabello at the People's Choice Awards on Jan. 18.