Little Mix star Jesy Nelson speaks out on decision to leave the band
Written by Gavin on 5th May 2021
Jesy Nelson has spoken out for the first time about her decision to leave Little Mix, saying she could no longer cope with being compared to her bandmates and that she reached “breaking point” after returning from lockdown to shoot a music video.
The singer, 29, quit the band in December 2020 after nine years, releasing a statement saying that being part of a high-profile girl group had “taken a toll” on her mental health.
Now, she has opened up about the events that led to the decision to say goodbye to her Little Mix bandmates – Perrie Edwards, Jade Thirlwall and Leigh-Anne Pinnock – in an interview and cover shoot with Cosmopolitan magazine.
Nelson said spending lockdown with her family was the “happiest I’d ever felt” and that when she returned to work she put “enormous” pressure on herself to lose weight ahead of the filming for single Sweet Melody.
The star ended up suffering a panic attack on set because she was unhappy with how she looked.
Little Mix went on to claim their fifth number one single with the song, the final track featuring Nelson as part of the group.
“The last music video we did was the breaking point,” Nelson said. “We’d been in lockdown, and (that had been) the first time I could have a break and be at home around people that I love.
“It was the happiest I’d ever felt, and I didn’t realise that until I went back to work. I immediately became a different person. I had anxiety. Whenever we had a music video, I put an enormous amount of pressure on myself to try and lose weight.
“I have a fear of looking back on the camera. If I don’t like what I see, I find it so hard to be in front of the camera and feel amazing and perform.
“I’d been in lockdown, and I’d put on a bit of weight but I didn’t care. And (then) they said, ‘You’ve got a music video in a couple of weeks,’ and I just panicked. I went on this extreme diet, with bloody shakes, and tried to eat as little as possible.
“On the day of the Sweet Melody video I had a panic attack on set because I didn’t look how I wanted to look and I found it so hard to just be happy and enjoy myself. I looked at the other three and they were having the time of their life.
“I get so jealous, because I want to feel like that and enjoy it, because music is my passion. To have this dream and not be enjoying it because of what I look like, I knew wasn’t normal.”
Little Mix formed as a foursome on the 2011 series of The X Factor and eventually went on to win the competition, catapulting them to fame and making them one of the UK’s most successful girl bands.
Nelson documented her mental health problems in a BBC documentary, Odd One Out, in 2019, in which she discussed feeling suicidal and obsessing over online comments.
In November 2020, it was announced she was taking an extended break, before she announced she was leaving for good.
Speaking to Cosmopolitan, Nelson said there was one scene in the Sweet Melody video in which she does not appear because she was “sobbing” in the dressing room.
“For me, that was the pinnacle point,” she said. “I was like, ‘I need to start taking care of myself now, because this isn’t healthy.’
“It wasn’t nice for the other three to be around someone who didn’t want to be there. So I took a break.”
At the time of Nelson’s announcement, Thirlwall, Edwards and Pinnock – who has just revealed she is pregnant – confirmed they would continue as a trio but voiced their support for her decision.