How Little Mix’s Jesy Nelson overcame extreme diets and seeing herself as ‘a fat ugly rat’ to be happy in her own skin – The Sun

THE Jesy Nelson that confidently smouldered at the camera showing off her chiselled abs and toned legs at the weekend couldn’t have been more different from the cowed, broken pop star who hid her body behind a cushion in her documentary last year.

Gone were the fake hair extensions and eyes smothered in black eyeliner and mascara – instead she looked chic and stylish with barely-there make-up to complement her short, brown bob.

Ahead of a date night with Chris Hughes, her look smacked of her newfound inner confidence.

“The way she’s happy to show a bit of skin in crop tops and thigh-split skirts shows how much she’s transformed and come into her own,” says celebrity stylist Natalie Robinson, stylist to former X factor winner, Alexandra Burke.

“There’s a sense of maturity and sophistication which you can see through her posture and confident style. It’s raunchy but still chic.

"Everything is pared down from her newly sleek, bobbed hair to her natural-looking make-up and it’s much more classic and simple as if she’s saying, 'This is me, accept me for who I am'.”

Online trolls almost destroyed her

The 28-year-old Little Mix singer from Dagenham spoke candidly in her award-winning documentary, Jesy Nelson: Odd One Out, about hateful comments and messages she received from online trolls.

They criticised her weight and face and told her, in very cruel ways, after Little Mix won The X Factor in 2011 that she didn’t deserve to live.

Her confidence plummeted with every vicious comment, forcing her onto extreme diets and even attempting suicide.

She admitted in an interview last year that at the peak of her fame, she'd only consume "Diet Coke for a solid four days and then, when I felt a bit dizzy, I’d eat a pack of ham because I knew it had no calories. Then I’d binge eat, then hate myself.”

In the film, aired last September, it was clear Jesy was still desperately insecure about her looks from the way she cringed at old photos and referred to herself as a, “fat, ugly rat” when glammed up for a video shoot.

Even her boyfriend, Love Island star, Chris Hughes, said he wished she was more comfortable in her own skin.

From girly fun to fishnets

Jesy had come a long away from the fresh-faced teenage singing hopeful from her X Factor audition days and was now a stylish, chic woman with an incredible body.

“Jesy started out in 2011 wearing colourful caps, leggings and trainers and seemed very girly and fun, but perhaps a little reserved and reticent to show off her body,” explains Natalie.

“But as Little Mix became more successful she dyed her hair dark and started to wear fishnets and leopard prints – clearly happy to experiment with fashion and trialling an altogether sexier look.

"Then, she started to develop her own sense of style and while the big, long hair remained she preferred to wear it sleek rather than wild, often dressing in black and choosing a smokey eye and chic black bralets to match.”

The tattoos then started to appear – one large rose tattoo on her forearm in 2015, then a thigh tattoo that read: “A tiger never loses sleep over the opinions of sheep" in 2017.

“But her style, around this time, became quite chameleon-like as if she didn’t quite know who she was,” says Natalie.

“She dyed her hair red and the big waves returned but her style seemed to change daily and she could be seen sporting the rock chic look in leather and fishnets one minute to long flowing floral dresses the next.

"It is only in the past year that she has finally settled on one strong, sexy look and clearly seems confident in her own style.”

Her fight against social media

Jesy revealed her confidence has grown from deleting Twitter, which means she can no longer read the negative comments people were posting about her.

“Social media is ruining a lot of people’s lives," she said in a video on body image on BBC’s Bitesize. “We all need to talk more about how this is really making us feel."

She also spoke about the benefits of talking to family and friends who genuinely loved her and made her feel valued and gave advice to readers on building up confidence with exercise.

I'm just so grateful that such a negative experience in my life turned into such a positive one

“Try throwing yourself into something you enjoy, taking up a new hobby or trying a new sport,” she advised.

“Concentrating on something else can give your mind a break from worrying. Doing something active can release endorphins and remind you how amazing your body is. Because it really is amazing.”

Jesy had previously espoused the benefits of exercising in an interview with Glamour magazine a year earlier.

She said: “When I start feeling rank, when I know I’ve indulged too much, then I start exercising… We love our junk food as well. Boxing is my absolute favourite, I love it because it makes me feel like I'm not exercising.”

Finding her voice

Filming the documentary and speaking to other victims of cyberbullying was a crucial part of Jesy’s journey to self-confidence.

Just before its release, she showed fans she was finally at peace with her body by posting a make-up free post on her Instagram stories, looking calm and relaxed as she lay on her bed, her natural, curly tresses cascading around her shoulders.

Days earlier she’d posted a throwback snap from 2011, writing a heartfelt post about her body image to her 6 million followers: “6 months ago this girl was someone I just wanted to forget. 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 @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. . . .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!"

TV award to show how far she’d come

But Jesy’s personal story of insecurity and shame clearly resonated, not only with thousands of teenage girls, but with every woman ever scrutinised for their appearance and the honest, revelatory documentary won the Factual Entertainment Show award at this year’s National Television Awards.

Stepping up to the podium to accept the award in January in a beautiful coral dress with make-up to match, Jesy bristled with a newfound confidence and thanked the two people in her life responsible for the turnaround.

She said: "I want to thank my mum for being the most inspirational, strongest woman in my life. I want to thank Chris, my boyfriend, for just bringing me up every day and making me feel confident."

She also paid tribute to her fans: "You have no idea how much this means to me, to us. I don't think we've ever expected for this to have such an impact. I'm just so so grateful that such a negative experience in my life turned into such a positive one, and that's all thanks to you guys.”

Her physical transformation – as well as her emotional transformation – seemed complete and her happiness and body positivity is obvious from her new look, says celebrity stylist, Natalie.

“She finally doesn’t have to hide behind her long hair anymore or piles of make-up,” she says. “She now knows that less is more and looks absolutely amazing because of it. She’s beaten her demons and is comfortable in her own skin.”

And long may it last.

Natalie Robinson is founder of

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