Jesy Nelson has posted an incredibly raw, real and moving message about her journey to self-love, and it’s a victory for us all.
“This girl was someone I just wanted to forget,” starts Jesy Nelson’s latest Instagram post.
As one quarter of mega, mega successful pop band Little Mix, whose female-championing lyrics cover topics like embracing female power ( “you’re the man, but I got the power” blares their hit Power) and refusing to be silenced (“I was born without a zip on my mouth” they warble in Woman Like Me), out of everyone she could be speaking about you probably wouldn’t guess this successful, empowered woman is talking about herself.
It’s no secret that the outrageous and damaging aesthetic standards that have been heaped on women, pretty much since the inception of society, erode the confidence of most women in some way, at some point in their lives.
We’ve all felt the sting of comparison when bombarded with images of women in the media who only fit into one narrow perception of what is considered beautiful. But you could argue that this sting is even more painful and frequent, when you are a female musician in a girl band, not only constantly critiqued on the way you look but compared to the other woman you share the stage with.
This battle to survive the constant bullying from the media and harassment from online trolls is something Nelson has, for the first time, opened up about in her upcoming BBC documentary which explores social media, mental health and body image.
Although a release date for the documentary, which currently has the working title of Jesy Nelson: My story, has not yet been released, Nelson has shared some of the emotional revelations and reflections she has experienced while filming on social media.
Continuing her Instagram post, which covers the journey she’s been on since first being trolled and her struggle to accept herself, Nelson writes: “I wanted to erase her from my mind and everyone else’s memory. I didn’t see her as Jesy I saw her as ‘the fat one from Little Mix’. Up until now I hated her not because she’d ever done anything bad but because I was made to hate her by endless amounts of trolling.
“Since filming my documentary for BBC and BBC Three I’ve learned so much more than I ever expected to. Thanks to all the inspirational people I’ve met on this emotional journey, I now love the girl in this photo. I’ve made this documentary for 2011 Jesy and for anyone who might be feeling like she did.”
Nelson continues to explain that she’s previously avoided talking about her body issues because she felt “embarrassed and scared” but would now urge others who feel the same to push through and confide in somebody. She writes: “I was so wrong to feel that way. Please if you are feeling how I did, SPEAK ABOUT IT. Talk to your family, speak to your friends, there’s always help out there.”
Concluding her post, Nelson remarks on how much her mindset has changed and much happier she now feels: “If you’d have told that girl one day you won’t feel sad anymore, I’d never have believed you….and here I am. Now when I look in the mirror, I don’t see Jesy the fat one, I see Jesy the happy one!”
Her post has amassed a huge amount of likes and comments (currently standing at over 591,000 likes), which considering how much women are crying out for this message, and how important and powerful this kind of honesty is, doesn’t surprise us at all.
Among the comments many of Nelson’s fans have shared their own personal journeys with body image and mental health, with one Instagram user writing: “I look back on pictures of me and hate the girl I was then (sometimes still do to this day) but more often than not I look at pictures and in mirrors and love who I am and I know part of that is because of you. You gave me the confidence I needed to embrace the way I look, to not hate myself just because I was never going to be one of those ‘thin beautiful girls’ that are constantly pushed onto us by society.
“Because of you I have learned to love being a curvy queen but I’ve also learned that the reason I started to love the girl in the mirror was because I learned to love my personality before my looks and that my looks are just the cherry on top to this amazing package I’ve created.”
For Nelson, who until recently wanted to pretend pictures of “2011 Jesy” didn’t even exist, we recognise how much of an incredible statement this is to draw attention to her insecurities but even more importantly, to speak out against the ridiculous limitations that women are still being pushed to conform to.
As celebrities like Nelson, Remarkable Women of the Year award winner Jameela Jamil whose famed I Weigh account refuses to let women be judged by the sum of their parts and singer Lizzo, who is known for incorporating messages of self-love into her work, continue to revolutionise the way we talk about women and ourselves, we can begin to unpick these patriarchal standards.
Images: Getty / Instagram