New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Culture
  2. TV
25 September 2019

Jesy Nelson’s body-image doc: a personal story of insecurity and shame

“I wasn’t known as just one of the singers in Little Mix,” she tells us. “I was known as the fat, ugly one.”

By Anna Leszkiewicz

When Jesy Nelson won The X Factor as a member of Little Mix in 2011, it was meant to be the best day of her life. Instead, it was the worst: her self-esteem was at an all-time low. “I wasn’t known as just one of the singers in Little Mix,” she tells us. “I was known as the fat, ugly one.” Winning a record deal barely mattered when she was constantly scrutinised for her appearance. “How have I just won The X Factor, and all I want to do is just go back to my normal life?”

In this documentary, Nelson revisits the comments she received about her looks and explains the extent of their impact on her, including body dysmorphia, extreme dieting, a spell of severe depression and a suicide attempt. Nelson, 28, is still unhappy with her appearance, cringing at old photographs and, on the set of a recent music video shoot, calling herself “a fat, ugly rat”. Her boyfriend says he never sees her without make-up. On Instagram, she posts a constant stream of flawless pictures and watches the likes roll in. “If I could have back my Jess as she was before, I’d change it like that,” her mum says bluntly, admitting she wishes her daughter had never been on X Factor at all. Band-mate Jade Thirlwall says, “We had to watch this amazing, funny girl become a broken doll.”

There are segments where Nelson meets with anti-bullying groups, body image experts and, in a particularly upsetting scene, the parents of a teenager who killed herself after being tormented for her looks. But this is not a wide-reaching or forensic look at modern beauty ideals, social media and what is often discriminatory hate speech. Instead, its power is as a personal story of insecurity and shame that will resonate with the thousands of teenage girls that look up to her – and many more, too. 

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

Content from our partners
An innovative approach to regional equity
ADHD in the criminal justice system: a case for change – with Takeda
The power of place in tackling climate change

This article appears in the 25 Sep 2019 issue of the New Statesman, The great disgrace