South Shields singers Perrie Edwards and Jade Thirlwall and bandmates Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Jesy Nelson were formed on The X Factor in 2011 and became the first and only all-female group to win the show.
They have had four No 1 singles in the UK, while their last album, Glory Days, topped the charts, and they have enjoyed success all over the world.
However, despite their global fame, the singers - who are aged between 24 and 26 - believe they are positive role models for their legions of young fans because they are "not perfect".
Speaking to The Observer magazine, Nelson said: "We were thrown into this industry without a clue about what was about to hit us.
"It was just the worst thing ever. Strangers saying things about you that you didn't even know about yourself. And you question yourself.
"But do you know what's weird? I feel like now that people can sense we've stopped giving a ****, we don't really get it any more.
"I think it's a really sad world that we live in, with social media, where people love to scrutinise girls and women. But we set a good example.
"We embrace who we are, we're not perfect and we know that."
Thirlwall added: "In the 'normal' world, you'd go to college, you'd be discovering yourself and you make mistakes and you wouldn't be judged for it.
"Whereas we were in this spotlight trying to discover who we were while everyone was watching."
Pinnock said it is difficult for them to show their emotions because of their fame.
"It's especially hard when you want to just be sad," she said.
"If you are feeling like crap and you can't just ******* cry, then yeah, that's... weird."
The Shout Out To My Ex hit-makers, who have released four albums in six years and toured the world, explained that, while they wish they could be "normal", they understand how their fame will have a long-lasting impact on their lives.
Pinnock said: "We go from: 'I wish I could be normal', to realising this is why we're locked in buildings all day."
However, Thirlwall said "it's nice to know that we'll do this for a few years and then in the future we've still got that part to come".
Edwards said: "This is our frickin' dream!"