‘I didn’t feel there was anyone I could talk to’: Jesy Nelson on being trolled
On the cusp of releasing a solo single, in a new interview, the former Little Mix member says X Factor did nothing when she was relentlessly trolled after winning the series.
It came as no surprise when Jesy Nelson announced her intention to leave Little Mix last year. In a BBC documentary Odd One Out, she had revealed how the seemingly never-ending online bullying had changed her as a person – the young woman who on the surface had it all, was utterly miserable.
In a new interview with The Guardian, she details her 10-year journey to this point, revealing she hasn’t spoken to her former bandmates since she left the group, feeling “everyone hated me” when she announced her intentions to leave, on the cusp of the group having just released a new album. It’s a revealing interview, from the start, it never seemed she was happy where she was, revealling she was happiest before any of it even began.
“When we first got put together, before all the TV stuff. We were all living at Perrie’s mum’s pub in Essex and, I think for all of us, it was the most magical time. It was so new and we didn’t know what was going to happen. We’d just dream about what we thought it was going to be like. We’d all go to Camden and buy matching outfits. There was no bad. It was all good.”
But it didn’t get better; she says the night she won the X Factor, she wished she was at home with her mum and that bosses did nothing to help when the trolling began.
“It’s like a drug. I was reading it every day. The minute I got up it was the first thing I did. I’d type in ‘Jesy Nelson’ and then ‘Jesy Nelson fat’ or ‘Jesy Nelson ugly’, and read what everyone said about me.”
“When I was struggling, I didn’t feel there was anyone I could talk to,” she said. “We were like babies: Perrie was 17, I was 20. I’m hoping that programmes like this are now taking more responsibility. It’s so important because nobody prepares you for what you’re about to go through. I think they should have a therapist there and – whether you like it or not – while you’re in that process you have to go and see them.”
She explains she never felt like an equal in the group, constantly pitted against the other three members. “…You’re always going to get compared; who they think looks better, who they think sings better. There’s always going to be one person that people think is weaker. It was never about my singing or my dancing. It was always about how I looked.”
It all contributed to what she describes as a “cycle of self-loathing” she couldn’t get out of. “When it was in the papers that I wasn’t turning up to work, it was just, ‘Oh, Jesy’s not well,’ but really I was hiding away. I didn’t want to get papped because I’d got so insecure about the way I looked. There were times I didn’t want anyone to look at me. I felt everybody hated me. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong, and it consumed me.”
After filming the Sweet Melody music video and ending up in hospital, she, and her bandmates had decided enough was enough.
“I know there are people who think I’ve let the other girls down, and that I’m so selfish, but I do think there comes a time in life when you do have to be selfish and look after yourself, and it was really affecting me mentally.”
“Now I’m on my own, I can genuinely wear what I want to wear. Before, 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 sh*t like that to make myself look the size they were. Now, I’m not looking at the screen thinking, “Oh my god, I don’t look as good as them,’” she told Cosmopolitan previously.
“Since I’ve left, I feel free. I don’t wake up with anxiety, 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.”
She has turned over a new leaf, and is determined to come out the other side.
“Lockdown was the happiest I’ve ever been. I was isolating with my best friend, and we just laughed every day. I’d not felt a true inner happiness like that for a very long time.”
Long may it continue.