In New Documentary, Janet Jackson Says Her Body-Image Issues Began at Age 11

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Janet Jackson is opening up about her relationship with her weight and body image in a new documentary, Janet, premiering Jan. 28 on A&E and Lifetime. According to The Sun, Jackson points to fame as being a major factor behind her struggles.

The singer said that her body-image issues stemmed from the beginning of her career, when she was on the sitcom Good Times at age 11: “I did Good Times, and that’s the beginning of having weight issues and the way I looked at myself.” Jackson also said that she’s “an emotional eater, so when I get stressed or something is really bothering me, it comforts me.”

Her famous family didn’t help matters, either. According to Jackson, her brother Michael Jackson would call her hurtful names like “pig, horse, slaughter hog, cow.” “He would laugh about it, and I’d laugh too, but then there was somewhere down inside that it would hurt. When you have somebody say you’re too heavy, it affects you,” Jackson said.

There was also the difficulty of going through puberty in the public eye. “I was developing at a very young age,” Jackson said. “I started getting a chest and they would bind it so I would look more flat-chested.” It’s no wonder Jackson came to the conclusion that fame was at the root of many of her issues. “I probably would have wound up not having a problem” if not for fame, she said.

In a recent interview with Allure, Jackson revealed that she started cultivating body confidence as best she could. Her 1993 album Janet and its cover shoot were about “embracing me and trying to learn to love me for me, my body, all of that. Trying to feel comfortable in embracing that,” Jackson said. Becoming more secure in her body “took a lot of work, a lot of work,” she continued. “But I’m glad I walked through it. . . . It was a way of accepting and loving, accepting yourself and your body.”

As difficult as it is to hear what Jackson went through at such a young age, there’s power in the way she’s taking back her story – from the ups and downs she’s had with her body to her relationship with her family (also discussed in the new documentary). “This is my story, told by me,” she says in a teaser. “Not through someone else’s eyes.”

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