In 2015, Fifth Harmony sang for President Barack Obama at the White House Easter Egg Roll, dominated the youth-awards show circuit with debut album Reflection (which peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard 200) and scored its biggest hit when “Worth It” (featuring Kid Ink) surged to No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. In fact, the most successful alumni of The X Factor‘s American run accomplished so much this year, they need help remembering the best bits. “I’m having a brain fart right now,” says Dinah Jane Hansen, 18, giggling. “I’ll never forget performing with Taylor Swift for as long as I live,” pipes in Camilla Cabello, 18, remembering when her group joined the pop star onstage in August. “She is the embodiment of what it means to be a strong woman in the music industry.”
As artists born of the Internet, all 22 or younger, the five vocalists credit their legions of plugged-in fans, the Harmonizers, with their success — and consider that loyalty a responsibility. “It’s our duty to be a voice for them,” says Normani Hamilton, 19. “Being a woman, and killing it, is awesome.”
Women They Look Up To
Hansen “Lauryn Hill. I admire her bravery and her strength. Hands down to the queen. Nicki Minaj, as well.”
Lauren Jauregui, 19 “I’m going to second Dinah — I’m all about Lauryn Hill. Also, I love Lana Del Rey.”
Hamilton “Beyoncé. She started a movement within feminism, and I love that she wasn’t afraid.”
Ally Brooke Hernandez, 22 “Jennifer Lopez. She opened so many doors for Latinas such as myself. Also, Adele.”
Not Your Typical Girls
Jauregui “The media glorifies the ideal woman and what she’s supposed to look like — none of us look like the typical girl.”
Hamilton “There’s not one type of beauty. You need to look in the mirror and say, ‘I’m the only one with these hips. I’m the only one with this chest.’ And it’s beautiful.”
Cabello “I barely have a chest.”
Hamilton “Your chest is beautiful.”
Cabello “It’s a beautiful, tiny chest!
Hamilton “Yes, and that’s OK!”
This story originally appeared in the Dec. 12 issue of Billboard.