Bebe Rexha spoke about being diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and how the symptoms of the condition have affected her in a new interview with Gayle King on the SiriusXM show Gayle King in the House.
“I just found out recently I have PCOS, polycystic ovary syndrome, and a lot of women have it. A lot of women who have it don’t know,” the 33-year-old singer said. “It causes facial hair, acne around the chin, weight gain—it makes it hard to get pregnant…. A lot of women don’t know they have it because it takes a certain type of doctor and certain tests [to be diagnosed with the condition].”
Despite the fact that up to 12% of people with ovaries have PCOS, getting a diagnosis can, as Rexha said, be challenging. There’s no one specific test that can tell a doctor a person has the condition, so a specialist—typically, a gynecologist or endocrinologist—first has to rule out a number of other illnesses that can cause similar symptoms (including problems with the thyroid, pituitary, or adrenal glands). Then they have to do a thorough checkup to accurately diagnose PCOS, including a complete physical exam, blood tests, and a pelvic exam (or ultrasound).
Rexha told King that weight fluctuations caused by PCOS have been difficult for her. In addition to learning how to navigate a new diagnosis, Rexha said she’s still recovering from harmful diet-culture practices that were pushed on her when she first started making music. “I’ve been struggling with food for forever,” she said. “I remember starting out and getting my first record deal…and they said to me, ‘Are you ready to get into bootcamp shape? You need to lose 20 pounds to do this career.’ I was 127 pounds at the time, and I had people around me telling me to get lipo.”
Other people’s relentless obsession with her size has also been unsettling for Rexha. In April, she tweeted a screenshot of a search term on TikTok: “bebe rexha weight.”
“Seeing that search bar is so upsetting,” she wrote on Twitter. “I’m not mad cause it’s true. I did gain weight. But it just sucks.”
Rexha told King that her experience with weight fluctuations—and people’s damaging comments about them—have taught her a valuable lesson: “It’s important who you keep around you…. There’ve been so many times on red carpets where I felt so ugly…because I had all this negativity around me,” she said. “Now I just don’t want that around me anymore.” Rexha said this is especially important for her, given the issues she’s had with her body image in the past and the fact that she’s now getting used to living with PCOS. “I struggled with the way that I look,” she said. “It’s been tough.”