I feel sorry for anyone who has to grow up in the public eye. Developing, growing into your own skin and becoming at peace with yourself is tough enough for anyone (god knows it took me almost thirty years), but for someone who is part of one of the world's most famous girl bands? Sounds hellish.
So it kind of broke my heart when I saw Jesy Nelson from Little Mix's most recent Instagram post. I suspected she had been through a rough time with her body image – because, guys, people behind computer screens can be unbelievably nasty – and her post was a heartbreaking confirmation.
"Six months ago this girl was someone I just wanted to forget," Jesy wrote alongside a perfectly lovely photo of her in 2011, when she first shot to fame as part of Little Mix. "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." Told you – nasty keyboard warriors. Also – she has always been so far from fat.
The singer went on to explain that making a new BBC documentary on mental health has allowed that cloud of negativity surrounding her body image and self-perception to lift. "Since filming my documentary for @bbcone and @bbcthree 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," she added.
"I've made this documentary for 2011 Jesy and for anyone who might be feeling like she did. I refused to speak about how I was feeling for so long. I was embarrassed and scared to. But 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. 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!"
This post is bittersweet, for me: I LOVE that she has been able to overcome the nasty words and the toxic body image issues, and I LOVE that she has so openly shared this journey, but I'm gutted that this young girl was ever made to feel such a way in the first place.
Negative comments about bodies are so damaging – they may seem like a passing comment but I promise they stick. And here's the thing you weren't expecting – positive ones are damaging, too. They perpetuate the idea that our self-worth and our value is based on how we look, which just isn't true.
So when you feel like complimenting someone, try giving them a non-appearance-based compliment. Tell them they're a great friend, or they make you laugh, or they're kind and caring.
Go Jesy – we love you!