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 says in the documentary 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 says 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 says.
There was also the difficulty of going through puberty in the public eye. "I was developing at a very young age," Jackson says. "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 notes.
In a recent interview with Allure, Jackson reveals 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 says. Becoming more secure in her body "took a lot of work, a lot of work," she continues. "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."