Ally Brooke Reveals She Faced 'Mental and Verbal Abuse' in Fifth Harmony — It 'Was Traumatizing'
On the debut episode of her podcast The Ally Brooke Show, Brooke revealed that she underwent "mental and verbal abuse" while in Fifth Harmony, alongside bandmates Normani, Camila Cabello, Lauren Jauregui and Dinah Jane. She also opened up about a label head who attempted to "take advantage" of her when she tried seeking help when Fifth Harmony was "breaking."
"It was a whirlwind. I'm going to say how proud I am of Fifth Harmony, of what we did, of what we did for music, what we did for female empowerment, what we did for girl groups," the 27-year-old said at the start of the podcast. "We will be in the history books, y'all."
"But I hate saying this: My time in Fifth Harmony, I didn't enjoy it. I didn't love it," she added. "It was hard because there was so much going on. So much behind the scenes, so much toxicity, so much abuse, so much about of power, so much mental abuse, verbal abuse, and it's just horrible and to me, it's a shame because we were so big. I should have enjoyed myself more."
Later in the episode, she said certain people in the group's label often made her and her group members feel both "inferior" and "uncomfortable." Brooke described a time when the group was "breaking" and she approached a label head for help and the person tried to "take advantage" of her.
"I show up to meet with him and he gives me a freaking thong. I know what he was trying to do. I was humiliated," she said. "I was going there super vulnerable [asking for help]... At the time, that behavior was accepted."
The singer said she "did so much for the group" and that she tried to be the "glue" that held the group together.
"I was that mom. I tried to keep us together as a unit. It was very, very hard. It was a tough experience," she explained, before adding that she oftentimes doesn't like "looking back," since she often felt "helpess" and "hopeless."
"There's a weird balance of being grateful and being okay with the fact that things were not okay for me," she said. "It was traumatizing."
"I'll look at a music video and all I'll remember is how I felt that day. How I felt super insecure, or how I felt let down or how I felt like I wasn't good enough," she added. "People around me told me that I wasn't good enough, I wasn't cool enough, I wasn't valued, nobody cared about me. It was awful but I also try to remember the good times."
On the podcast, Brooke said the girls almost had to "fight for our lives" to get significant singing parts on tracks, and that she oftentimes felt "crushed" and "embarrassed" when she didn't get good parts. "At times, it definitely felt competitive," she said, before adding, "Later on, it did get better and in some moments, there were moments for me to shine and feel like I could contribute but that was really, really hard. That takes a toll on your confidence."
The singer also opened up about body image and how she was often categorized as the "big one" as she was constantly compared to her groupmates.
"People said I was the fat one and all these things and especially in one moment when we were shooting a music video we were in bathing suits and I didn't feel at my best," she said. "And then there were paparazzi pictures that came out and people made fun of me so much and it was horrible."
It's a sentiment that Brooke opened up about in her book Finding Your Harmony, which she released last year. "It just destroyed any last bit of confidence that I had in myself," she told PEOPLE about filming Fifth Harmony's "All In My Head (Flex)" at the time.
New episodes of The Ally Brooke Show premiere each Wednesday on Brooke's YouTube.