“It was difficult at times being a woman and being told, ‘No, you can’t.’ Why? ‘Because women don’t do that,’” Jackson said of the cultural expectations of the 1980s.
She went on to discuss body image specifically, and noted that women have gotten “comfortable in their skin, in their size, in being full-figured and I love that, as opposed to back in the day.” She continued, “You had to always be thin and always look a certain way. And now it’s all accepted and it is all beautiful and I absolutely love that.”
Jackson went through learning to embrace her own body throughout her career. In the era of her 1986 album Control, Jackson rejected the sexualization of her body through clothing that covered her up. “I was never a girly girl. I was always a tomboy. So it was always about pants, suits, even as an early teenager. I remember when my brothers got their star on the Walk of Fame and other awards they got, and I look back on pictures and I always had on a suit with a tie, a bow tie, or suspenders,“ she said. “Always loving black and never wanting to expose any part of my body, I felt most comfortable to cover it up to here.”
However, in her 1993 album era for Janet, she took back the narrative surrounding her body with an album cover where she was implied to be topless. The Janet era was about “embracing me and trying to learn to love me for me, my body, all of that,” she said. “Trying to feel comfortable in embracing that. Throwing myself in the lion’s den. Just going for it, wanting to do something different.”
“It took a lot of work, a lot of work,” she continued. “It was something very tough, very difficult. But I’m glad I walked through it. I’m really glad I got in. It was a way of accepting and loving, accepting yourself and your body.”
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