If you’ve been on social media the past few weeks, you may have seen a lot of people discussing Jesy Nelson, Nicki Minaj, and the issues that came about after Jesy released the debut song of her solo career, Boyz.
For those who don’t know, Jesy Nelson has been in the music industry for years, in a UK girl band, Little Mix. Jesy announced her separation from Little Mix in December of last year, one of the main reasons being her mental health. This didn’t come as a shock for most of the Little Mix fans due to the documentary she released in 2019 called Odd One Out, where she went into detail about the suffering and trauma she endured during her time in Little Mix due to the online bullying she constantly received about her weight, the way she looked, her personality and even got as bad as people threatening her and telling her that she didn’t deserve to live. She talked about how social media had a very influential role in how she perceived herself, and it caused her to have low self-esteem, become very unhappy with herself and her appearance and even lead her to attempt suicide. It is very heartbreaking to see what social media does to young women in the industry, especially when you find out that Jesy was not the only one who suffered from this trauma in Little Mix.
Leigh Anne Pinnock also endured a significant amount of trauma throughout her time as a star, a journey that she discussed in her documentary: Race, Pop & Power. Leigh- Anne described the racism that she faces in the music industry and what it looked like for her, being the only black member of Little Mix. It was a powerful documentary that I would 100% recommend, Leigh Anne also met with other black women in the industry and heard their experiences which caused her to question, “If I was some shades darker would I be sat here right now?” It definitely demonstrates the difficulty not only Leigh Anne but many black women in the industry face every single day. As you can see, both women (honestly- all of them) know and experience the harshness of the industry and social media throughout their time as a band, so it is expected that there should be a certain level of understanding when it comes to social media and using it for its strengths, like promoting music, connecting with fans and expressing yourself, instead of its weaknesses, like putting negative situations and views out to the media which spirals into trolling, hate accounts and death threats.
When Boyz was released, it became something much bigger than a song/music video drop. In Boyz, Jesy is seen blackfishing and appropriating black culture throughout the entirety of the music video. This is not the first time these issues have been called out in terms of Jesy and the way she has been presenting herself. That wasn’t the only problem. When false screenshots went around of Leigh Anne supposedly speaking to fans in Instagram group chats, Nicki Minaj decided to escalate the situation to the next level. Nicki went on Instagram Live, where she proceeded to defend Jesy’s blackfishing with the excuse of “well others do it and don’t get called out, so why is it a big deal?” as well as speaking ill on Leigh Anne. It was extremely inappropriate, especially since Nicki Minaj was bashing another black woman (Leigh Anne) in order to defend a white woman from culturally appropriating. It was also completely counterintuitive since they were doing exactly what every celebrity preaches against – which is causing harm through online bullying.
There are so many questions to ask – do you think that Nicki Minaj has a point? How could the situation been handled correctly? Why preach about the effects of online bullying and trolls and proceed to put another person (especially to a woman you considered family) through the same situation? Should celebrities have their platforms taken away when they use their power to hurt others?