Janet Jackson Says the Music Industry Made Her Insecure About Her Body: 'You Had to Be Thin'

Janet Jackson talked about her past body image issues and how working out with her trainer made giving birth at age 50 easier

Janet Jackson InStyleCredit: ROBBIE FIMMANO

At age 52, Janet Jackson is happy in her body. But it took some time — and therapy — to find that confidence after she felt pressured by the music industry to look a certain way when she was growing up.

The singer and new mom said that there were body expectations on her and her late brother Michael Jackson.

“I remember growing up and being in this business [self-image] was always this important thing. Because it was the thing,” she told InStyle for their October cover. “And you had to be a certain size, you had to be thin to be an entertainer. Stupid crap like that. That’s just this business I’m in.”

Jackson said that moving past her insecurities “has to do with experience,” and “getting older,” along with talking to a therapist.

“Therapy helped a great deal with that. I had to find something in my body that I loved, and that was difficult for me to do,” she admitted. “At first, I couldn’t find anything. I would look in the mirror and start crying. I didn’t like that I was not attractive. I didn’t like anything about me. But I wound up falling in love with the small of my back. And then from there I found more things.”

Janet Jackson InStyleCredit: ROBBIE FIMMANO

The mom to son Eissa, 20 months, said that her daily workouts with trainer Paulette Sybliss added to her body confidence, and made her pregnancy at age 50 go smoothly.

“It’s very important,” she said of her workouts. “First of all, it helped me with my pregnancy. When I was in New York, I was walking and doing stairs every day. The doctor said as long as you’re not feeling any pain or having any problems and it’s not too much for you, more power to you. It’s great exercise, releases those endorphins.”

“I give it up to Paulette,” Jackson added. “She’s incredible. And she never made me feel like I have to deprive myself of anything. She would say, ‘What do you like? OK, I’m going to put that in. What do you enjoy? OK, I’m going to put that in.’ ”

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Jackson said that she doesn’t always make it to her workouts, but Sybliss doesn’t get mad at her for skipping them.

“She knows how crazy my life is, and she understands it,” Jackson said. “Sometimes I have an emergency call and I’ll say, ‘I really want to work out, but I don’t know how long this is.’ She’ll say, ‘If you want, I’ll wait for you.’ And other times when I’ve been so mentally exhausted, we’ll just take a 2-mile walk and talk, and it feels so good.”

Janet Jackson InStyleCredit: ROBBIE FIMMANO

And Jackson is happy to see that the music industry seems to be shifting to a place with greater body acceptance.

“I think it’s changed, thank God,” she said. “People are more accepting of others. Which is the way it should’ve been from the jump. That can really mess with you.”

But she said that the teenagers trying to make it in these days need to know themselves.

“It’s tough. They have to know who they have to be and who they are. Not what someone else wants them to be, not what they think they should be by looking at someone else,” Jackson said. “Individuality is beautiful. God made you as you are, and that’s beautiful. You are unique, special. You don’t want to look like someone else or be that other person.”

InStyle‘s October beauty issue hits newsstands on Sept. 14.

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