Anyone who’s a fan of Little Mix probably wasn’t shocked when Jesy Nelson announced she was leaving the band in December 2020.
Jesy has been the target of bullying and fat-shaming ever since her days on The X-Factor in 2011 and, nine years later, she finally reached her breaking point.
In her first interview since officially leaving the band, Jesy reflected on what led up to her decision to finally call it quits.
Speaking with Cosmo UK, she explained that she was obsessed with comparing her body to those of her bandmates and it was taking a severe toll on her mental health. She explained,
“I constantly compared myself to the others. Of course, a lot of that was in my head, but a lot of it was past trauma. Even recently, I was still getting compared to them. It’s horrible when you already don’t like something about yourself to then have thousands of people point it out.”
She added that she used to wake up thinking, “I’ve got to do a music video today, I need to starve myself,” or “I need to go on an extreme diet so I can look like the other three.”
Thoughts of weight were “consuming” and even affected what she wore, despite her love of fashion. She said,
“I was wearing what I thought I should wear because I was too frightened to wear certain things in case I looked bigger than the others. I’d wear corsets and shit like that to make myself look the size they were.”
The breaking point finally came while Little Mix was filming their music video “Sweet Melody.” The video was set to film after a break due to the pandemic and Jesy (like most of us) had gained a little weight.
“I just panicked. I went on this extreme diet, with bloody shakes, and tried to eat as little as possible.”
She ended up having a panic attack on the set and sobbing in the dressing room. Her friends and family urged her to leave the band, concerned for her well-being. She eventually agreed and announced she would take “an extended break” from the band in November 2020. But she was still struggling. She admitted,
“I went through a really dark time after the [Sweet Melody] music video.”
It was about a month later that she officially confirmed that she was leaving Little Mix for good. She wrote on Instagram,
“The truth is recently being in the band has really taken a toll on my mental health. I find the constant pressure of being in a girl group and living up to the expectations very hard. There comes a time in life when we need to reinvest in taking care of ourselves rather than focusing on making other people happy, and I feel like now is the time to begin that process.”
It’s been less than six months since Jesy officially left the group but she already seems like she’s doing a million times better. She’s dressing how she wants when she wants and is even back in the studio, happily recording music (there’s reportedly a £2M bidding war to nab a record deal with her).
“I need to do things that make me happy now, and people might think that’s selfish, but sometimes in life you have to put yourself first, you have to love yourself, and do what makes you happy.”
And it seems like Jesy is doing just that.
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Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, Tiger Beat, and Sesame Workshop (aka Sesame Street). She loves all things Real Housewives and The Challenge. When she’s not busy binge-watching TV, you can find her taking an absurd amount of photos of her tuxedo cat Tom.