It's no surprise that Jesy had to leave Little Mix
Jesy Nelson has decided to leave Little Mix, which should come as no surprise.
The star shared a statement last night confirming her decision, stating that she needed to leave the band because fame had "taken a toll on my mental health."
Last year, Jesy released her BBC special, Odd One Out. A frank and candid look at her career to date, her experience of fame, and the myriad of ways it has changed her, the film presented a star who had struggled.
Not just with the press but with fame itself and the pressures that came with it. The constant scrutiny, the repetitive comparisons, the reminder that although she belonged in this band, she would always feel like the odd one out.
“You are the ugliest thing I have ever seen in my life," read the first message she saw after winning The X Factor in 2011. "You do not deserve to be in this girl band. You deserve to die.”
Over the years, Little Mix didn't just triumph, they dominated the pop scene. The biggest girl band since the Spice Girls, they became global superstars; their every move documented by the press, every angle of their bodies commented on.
Being a woman in pop requires you to have talent, but it also requires you to look a certain way. To be flawless, to be skinny, to be address your weight if it's talked about, to make sure you maintain it if it's not.
After her first appearance on The X Factor, Jesy recalled thinking that people would comment on her performance. There might be nasty comments about her vocals, about her dancing. She later said that every single comment was about what she looked like.
“I don’t think anything is worth your happiness," she said at the time, "and it was a lot of my life that I won’t get back."
Odd One Out was a powerful film, but it was not a resolution. It was largely about the trolling Jesy received at the beginning of her career, but also about how she is now, how fame has changed her, and how she has learned to cope.
Over the years, the trolling has become less pointed, the comments less blunt. Once Jesy's film aired, Twitter was awash with comments about her bravery. She was supported. She was understood.
The way the internet criticises its celebrities - the way they look, how much they weigh - has changed, but that criticism is still there. It's just more insidious now - unless you venture into the murky depths of MailOnline comment sections.
It's there that you'll still find young women being torn to shreds for the way they look. They're criticised for being too big. They're hounded for showing too much skin. They're reduce to their appearance despite their talents, their intelligence, and the fact that they are a human being.
Type Jesy's name into Google Images and one of the top suggestions is "Jesy Nelson before." Another is "Jesy Nelson no makeup." Our treatment of celebrities may have shifted ever so slightly, but our desire to see them at their most vulnerable hasn't.
We drum up their pain, their weaknesses, their most difficult moments in the spotlight for entertainment. We look back on their struggles and tell ourselves we're humanising them, but really we're doing the opposite. We don't enjoy their pain, but we've learned to expect it. We don't root for their failure, but we're okay with watching them crumble too.
It's no surprise that Jesy felt she had to leave Little Mix. Not because she wasn't strong enough, or because she didn't fit in, but because she was subjected to pressures far beyond that of her bandmates - and beyond what normal people like us are equipped to put up with.
Her decision to step away will no doubt devastate fans, but it's one that required an amount of foresight that arguably has been absent from celebrity culture for far too long.
They're expected to put up with criticism, to deal with pressures ordinary people would crumble beneath. They're not expected to walk away, when that often could be the most important decision they'll ever make.
"I need to spend some time with the people I love," Jesy wrote, "doing things that make me happy."
Hopefully now, she'll be able to do just that.