"Victoria's Secret" Singer Jax on How a Babysitting Gig Helped Catapult Her to Chart-Topper

Content warning: this post discusses eating disorders.

It's highly unlikely you haven't yet heard TikTok sensation Jax's latest earworm, "Victoria's Secret." The punk-pop tune is currently dominating the charts, all while delivering an ever-important message of body positivity. Inspired by her own struggle with an eating disorder, the song (Jax's fourth release with Atlantic Records) has become the soundtrack to countless diverse stories all over social media. The award-winning singer-songwriter has 11.9 million followers (and counting) on TikTok alone and constantly uses her platform for good, elevating marginalized voices by reposting and highlighting videos from people of all shapes and sizes.

Jax, who credits artists like Billie Eilish for breaking the mold and keeping focus on the music over anything else, has been trying to make it in the business since her younger years (though, some might argue, at 26, Jax is still in her younger years). "I always knew I wanted to be on stage," she tells POPSUGAR. "I need to entertain." Her lucky turn to TikTok right before the pandemic was at the insistence of the kid she babysits for: "She wanted to make ice cream sundaes, which she didn't even eat — we made a total mess for no reason." That delicious attempt at content creation sparked a real go at utilizing the app. For a year, the New Jersey native posted her music without much success.

"I always knew I wanted to be on stage. I need to entertain."

"I was taking myself super seriously, being told that I had to act more mysterious. . . . One day I decided, f*ck it . . . no one cares about my music. What is the harm in being ridiculously and unapologetically myself?" As she — like most — spent 2020 locked inside, finally, something took off. Donning a robe, a hair towel, and her mom's New York accent, Jax created her first viral parody that November, "Stacy's Mom from Stacy's Mom's Perspective." Overnight, her following blew up.

Jax continued to go viral with other hilarious POV videos, but being a comedian-influencer was never her intent. So she tried something new and posted an original song that had been "collecting dust." The single, "Ring Pop," landed her a record deal. "Like My Father," another huge success, followed soon after. "That song felt like my baby . . . whenever I hear people sing it, I lose my mind," she says, smiling.

"Victoria's Secret," with its raw lyrics about toxic body ideals, is personal in a different way. "It starts when you're young," she explains. "You walk into a mall, and there's one body type. You think, oh, this is what I have to strive for. And if I can't get it, I'm going to keep opening my wallet until I can. That was the evil I really wanted to speak about."

Check out the rest of Jax's interview ahead.

Braverijah Gregg via Atlantic Records

How long have you been playing music? Did you always know this would be your path in life?

Since I was really young, I was like, "I know I'm meant to do this." My whole purpose is to make people laugh and smile. I was in fifth or sixth grade when professionals in entertainment started taking interest in different projects I was doing. I was in a bunch of mediocre pop bands as a kid; we had a lot of heartbreak. But I always felt like I'd be doing this professionally no matter what. By the time I was out here alone in Los Angeles with $30 in my bank account, I decided I would stop doing my own music because I couldn't pay the bills. I wrote for other people for five or six years. But for every 200 songs you write, maybe one of them gets a little commercial slot. That's why I started babysitting, and I worked social media — I had about four side hustles. When quarantine hit, I couldn't be in the studio, and all those side hustles had fired me. That's when everything brought it back to my music.

Who is your biggest supporter?

My dad has always been my number-one fan in everything I do. My mom and dad equally, really, but my dad grew up in a pretty tough family situation. He got out around 15 or 16 years old, and he was on his own. That's when he joined law enforcement, took the first government job he could get to pay the bills. But I think his calling was to be in entertainment. He's so charismatic. He's the star of any party. I think secretly he has fun embracing what I do because he could have done it in another life.

Trying to break into the business, did you feel pressured to have a particular image?

Growing up, I started comparing my body to what I saw in entertainment. At a really young age, I started thinking, "This is what pretty is." As you go into puberty, it's a whole other ball game. School is like a war zone. Between that and wanting to be on the stage — there would be choreographers who would draw an outline around a piece of fat on a girl's thigh, saying, "This is what you have to lose." I've had people say to me, "You have to cut 15 [pounds]." It was drilled in my brain. It was this cultural idea that you had to look a certain way. I went through it pretty hard. I actually shared photos [of that time] recently on TikTok, which was really hard to do. I'm glad I'm in a place where I can look at them and see how unhealthy I was.

In "Victoria's Secret," you have the line, "I stopped eating, what a bummer." Can you talk a little more about that?

It is a really painful subject. I think all mental illness, you can't really put a cap on when things stop. I never felt comfortable writing this song. Even to this day, I don't feel fully awesome singing it because I figured I'd be in the awesome place about myself and be like, "Yeah, I've healed from this." But it's such an ongoing, lifetime rain cloud that just exists. Some days are better, and some days are worse. I've been having a lot better days because it's almost group therapy at this point with all the love and support on this song.

"Victoria's Secret" has given a voice to so many with marginalized bodies. It's inspiring to see you constantly reposting all their stories.

It was so awesome, and it took the pressure off. I was really concerned. When you sing about your body, you open the door for people to look at your body, and I've been swimming in sweatpants and turtlenecks for years trying not to do that, to say, "Here, just listen to this song." The internet is ruthless. My whole point of this song was we needed access to more diversity in body types . . . and I am only seeing that right now in my messages, in my feed, in my tagged photos, on TikTok. I'm seeing a million different shapes and sizes and colors and stories rocking out [to my song] and feeling super confident in their skin. It's been a really healing experience for more reasons than anyone really understands.

What's been the biggest "pinch me" moment of your career so far?

Recently, I got to play for a group of people in San Francisco. It was this really intimate setting. And I saw this dad with his daughter on his shoulders. He was big and brawly like my boyfriend is, and he was sobbing, making direct eye contact with me, tears rolling down his face, singing the words to "Like My Father." That was my "is this really happening right now" moment. I don't even know this man, this dad, but something I wrote really inspired him and his kid. It's just the coolest part of art.

I don't know how the hell [fame] happened so fast . . . I'm really lucky that God and the universe did not give me the things I asked for when I asked for it because I would have been handling it a lot differently than I am now. Now it's more like, I can't wait to have babies, I'm really happy that I get to meet all these kids, I am so grateful that people are listening to things I write. . . . I'm having a blast, and I'm so grateful. Coolest three years of my life.

Stream "Victoria's Secret" here.

This interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) has resources available including a 24/7 helpline at (800) 931-2237. For a 24-hour crisis line, text "NEDA" to 741741 or use its click-to-chat help messaging system.