Among the suggestions she received, one comment involved her “showing more skin.” But Nita didn’t let this advice get in the way of what she wanted to do and be known for.
During a recent conversation with Tori Kravitz and Alicia Atout of Knotfest’s She’s With The Band, Nita reflects on the sexist advice that she received, while also speaking about how she stayed headstrong in pursuing her goals. (The following was transcribed by Blabbermouth):
“Early in my career, I got a lot of really bad advice. I was a young guitar player. I started this career really, really young. I did my first national tour at 15 and dropped out of high school at 17 to try to do this full-time.
“And at the time, I had so many people telling me what I needed to do in order to be successful in this industry — people saying, ‘You need to show more skin’; ‘If you have a boyfriend, you can’t say that you’re dating anybody because you need to appear available’; all this kind of stuff. And looking back, obviously, that’s not the kind of attention that I wanted to get; I wanted to be known as a guitar player, and that was it.
“So once I realized that, I went the complete opposite way and I started really dressing down. I dyed my hair darker — not ‘brown brown’ but darker, darker blond — to stand out less. And I’d wear a men’s large t-shirt onstage and baggy cargo shorts and started touring with heavier bands.
“And I was, like, ‘I don’t wanna be a hot chick. I just wanna be a guitar player.’ And that’s not who I am either. And I kept getting pulled back and forth through this dichotomy of, like, ‘No, you have to be the sex symbol,’ and, ‘No. You don’t wanna be known for that. You have to just be a serious musician.’ And the reality is where I am doesn’t fit into either of those molds.
“And it wasn’t until I started just dressing how I wanna dress and acting how I wanna act… And, yeah, if I have a boyfriend, I’m gonna tell the world about it because I love him. And I don’t need to appear single and I don’t need to have fans think they have a chance with me in order to be respected and have people coming to my shows. And once I just started embracing who I actually am as a person, that’s when great opportunities and great successes started coming to me.
“And when I was trying to just fit into some mold or another mold, I was just chasing something that wasn’t authentic; it wasn’t really who I am. So I just wish that I could go back and tell my younger self, ‘Stop trying to fit into what other people tell you you should be, and just be who you are.'”
It sucks that Nita received such cringy and sexist advice early on, but it’s awesome to hear that she fought against that and pursued her guitar career how she wanted to!
You can check out the full interview featuring Strauss below.