You flew into Vancouver from London yesterday. Are you jet-lagged?
That’s why we are drinking—we genuinely need the buzz of something to get us through the day. I hadn’t been on a long-haul flight for a few weeks, so I thought, I’ll just have a little tipple to take the edge off. I made the mistake of having too many drinks, and then I watched Carol, and for the rest of the flight I was thinking about feminism and women’s rights—like, so seriously that it bummed me out.
What are your feelings on the current state of feminism?
It’s always tempting to talk about negative things when I get asked this, but I’m also seeing positive changes. A decade ago, a woman would have been too scared to go into the weight section of the gym. Now every time I go to the gym, I see more women lifting weights. But with music, I’m not going to lie—I’ve experienced the misogyny that comes with writing songs like “On My Mind,” where I talk openly about a one-night stand. It’s almost like girls aren’t allowed to have one-night stands, but I’m like, f-ck that.
Have you ever been slut-shamed?
I have been, 100 percent, on social media. I work out a lot; I’m proud of my body. I put up a picture of myself, and people are like, “Put it away; you’re supposed to be a good influence on young people.” Young women should have the freedom to post a picture with no makeup and wearing a track suit or in full makeup and a tight dress.
What did you think of Kim Kardashian’s naked Instagram selfie?
Honestly, it did not phase me. I feel like I have the right to do the same thing if I ever wanted to. She’s a mom; she’s had kids; she looks incredible. She works hard for her body, and it’s beautiful.
You seem to work pretty hard for yours, too.
I work hard, but I don’t have the perfect body. When I put up a fitness video [Goulding is a Nike ambassador and has designed workouts for the brand’s Training Club app], I’m encouraging other women to be physically strong. I’ve been boxing for years. If I was ever attacked, I could look after myself.
I think so. I grew up in a village that was very rough with some very tough girls who could truly look out for themselves. [Goulding grew up in public housing in Herefordshire, England.] We all ran around and were active. I think that’s where my love of fitness and being agile comes from. So when I post stuff, it’s for a good reason. I don’t expect people to say, “Nice ass.”
Do you feel like social media is necessary to build your brand?
I wouldn’t have said that a few years back, but then I suddenly got 10 million Instagram followers, so maybe I’m doing something right. I don’t have Snapchat. My fans keep telling me to get it, but I’m not quite ready.
Unlike a lot of celebs, you’ve talked about the famous men you’ve dated [like One Direction’s Niall Horan and McBusted’s Dougie Poynter, from whom she recently split]. How do you decide what is private versus public?
There are private things people wouldn’t know because I haven’t mentioned them, but I’m pretty open, and that’s just how I’ve always been. The guys I’ve been with know this about me. I have the same vulnerabilities, the same fears, the same insecurities as the next girl, but I’m very open about them. So rather than put up a front, if I’m scared of something, I’ll just say it or tweet about it.
You struggled with panic attacks earlier in your career. How did you learn to cope?
By having cognitive behavioural therapy. I was skeptical at first because I’d never had therapy, but not being able to leave the house was so debilitating. And this was when my career was really taking off. My surroundings would trigger a panic attack, so I couldn’t go to the studio unless I was lying down in the car with a pillow over my face. I used to beat myself up about it.
Do you still have attacks?
There were a couple of times after I released Delirium when I was doing promo and thought, Oh god, it’s coming back, it’s coming back, but it didn’t. I think my body has become quite good at controlling anxiety.
You’re pretty tight with Taylor Swift. Do you rely on her or other famous friends for advice on dealing with the intensity of the music world?
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Not necessarily famous people, but people who make a living doing music. It’s good to get the perspective of people who have been through the same things I have.