Jesy Nelson Says Her 'Intention Was Never to Offend People of Color' After Being Accused of 'Blackfishing'

"I'm just really lucky as a white girl that when I'm in the sun, I tan so dark," Nelson said in an Instagram Live with Nicki Minaj

Jesy Nelson
Jesy Nelson. Photo: Mike Marsland/WireImage

Jesy Nelson is addressing the blackfishing accusations she's faced following her debut solo single "Boyz" with Nicki Minaj.

Appearing on Instagram Live with Minaj — who defended Nelson and seemingly slammed Nelson's former bandmates — Nelson addressed the controversy and said that she never intended to offend anyone with her music video.

"I personally want to say that my intention was never ever to offend people of color with this video and my song because like I said, growing up as a young girl, this is the music that I listened to," Nelson, 30, said. "These are the videos that I watched and thought were the best. For me personally, '90s R&B were the best years in music. I just wanted to celebrate that. I just want to celebrate that era of music is what I love."

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Following the release of her song, she faced criticism from Black social media users for allegedly tanning her skin darker and attempting to look biracial while singing about wanting a man who's "so hood, so good, so damn taboo" with "tattoos and them gold teeth."

"My intention was never, ever, ever want to offend anyone and genuinely it actually does really hurt me that may have offended people and actually, like, hurt people's feelings just by genuinely celebrating something that I love," Nelson said.

Referring to comments about her skin tone, Nelson said she had not gotten any "fake tan" prior to the music video.

"I'm just really lucky as a white girl that when I'm in the sun, I tan so dark like, so many people have said to me before like Leigh-Anne [Pinnock] in the group has said, 'You sure you're like not mixed-race because you've got darker than me in the sun. That's crazy,'" Nelson claimed, referring to her former bandmate. "I wanted to come on this live today as well and show everyone my hair is naturally curly. I've always had curly hair. I got it from my dad."

"I genuinely didn't think I was doing anything wrong, because I've got naturally curly hair," Nelson added.

Nelson was asked about the accusations in an interview with New York's Vulture, stating that she never received this sort of backlash while she was in the group and that she's "just 100% being myself."

"If you look at me on X-Factor with my big curly hair, I was wearing trainers and combats — that's who I am as an artist and as Jesy," she told the outlet. "Now I'm out of Little Mix, I've gone back to being who I am. Like I said, I don't ever want to be an artist who's being told what to wear or what music to make. I want to be authentic and true to myself, and if people don't like that, don't be my fan. Don't be a part of my journey."

The magazine stated that it had scheduled follow-up calls with the songstress to discuss identity and blackfishing, but Nelson's team canceled them and instead provided a statement.

"I take all those comments made seriously," Nelson told Vulture in a statement. "I would never intentionally do anything to make myself look racially ambiguous, so that's why I was initially shocked that the term was directed at me."

While she did not mention her directly, Minaj, 38, referred to leaked screenshots from Pinnock where she allegedly criticized Nelson for blackfishing.

"Take them text messages and shove it up your f—ing ass," Minaj said about the texts. "Let her enjoy this time. If you was in this group and haven't talked about this s— for 10 years... If you want a solo career baby girl just say that... If that's how you felt, why were you kiki'ing with her and being in videos with her for 10 years."

While Nelson's former bandmates have not publicly addressed Nelson's new song, they all unfollowed her on Instagram over the weekend.

Nelson left the group last December citing how being in the group had been "taking a toll" on her mental health. She has since shared how "truly unhappy" she felt in the group and revealed in an interview last week that she and her Little Mix "sisters" had not spoken since her exit.

"We've sent a few texts, but that's it. I can't explain it, it's like there has to be this distance," Nelson said in her Glamour U.K. interview. "We were so close so you can't do in-between, there has to be space and hopefully at some point in the future, we can all come back together."

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