Janet Jackson is getting real in her new documentary, Janet, which premieres on A&E and Lifetime on Jan. 28. While there were a lot of good times as one of the biggest pop stars in the world, there was also a lot of trauma in her family. Even though she was extremely close to her brother Michael Jackson, she’s revealing that his constant teasing about her weight during her childhood still haunts her to this day.
She alleges that he called her names like “‘pig, horse, slaughter hog, cow” and while she would good-naturedly brush the comments aside, Jackson admits in the upcoming documentary that “somewhere down inside that it would hurt,” per the Daily Mail. She also heartbreakingly shares, “When you have somebody say you’re too heavy, it affects you.” The “Control” singer says her weight issues began in 1977 when she joined the cast of Good Times. “I was developing at a very young age and I started getting a chest and they would bind it, so I would look more flat-chested,” she says.
That put Jackson in a stressful situation at both work and home, and as an “emotional eater,” she found that food comforted her. It also resulted in decades of yo-yo dieting and being on the receiving end of cruel jokes in the tabloids — she was praised when she got too thin and mocked when she gained weight. “Knowing I have these problems with body image, I ask my friends and family to tell me when I’ve lost too much too,” she told Prevention magazine in 2012. “Because I will continue to pick on myself, like all women do, and say, You need to [lose] more here, more there.”
Over the years, Jackson has learned to love herself first and appreciate all of the incredible gifts her body has given her. But she does acknowledge that most of her body image issues wouldn’t have happened if she hadn’t had a career in the public eye. “I probably would have wound up not having a problem,” she sums up in the documentary — and might be the saddest part of it all.
Before you go, click here to see some of the most dramatic celebrity transformations of the past decade.