Volunteer writer, Leah Langley, discusses Jesy Nelson’s surprise exit from Little Mix and the impacts of social media on our mental health.
On 14th December 2020, it was announced that Little Mix star Jesy Nelson would be leaving the pop group after stating that fame had “taken a toll on [her]mental health.” Little Mix were formed on the popular reality show, The X Factor, back in 2011, with Nelson joining fellow contestants, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Perrie Edwards and Jade Thirlwall, to form a new group which would later go on to win the competition. They have since managed to release up to six UK Top 10 albums and four Number 1 singles as well as performing several sold-out tours across the world.
Just a month before the announcement, Nelson had been said to taking an “extended break” due to “private medical reasons.” In the statement released across her social media, the star said, “I find the constant pressure of being in a girl group and living up to expectations very hard.” Last year, Nelson was praised widely for her hard-hitting BBC Three documentary, where Nelson opened about her struggles with mental health with regards to internet trolling. Not only was Nelson’s documentary praised for its honest and vulnerable insight into the music business, but it also garnered her a National Television Award. The star spoke about the harsh comments and messages she had been subject to on social media and how much of an impact it had on her.
The news of the star’s departure brought back into question the impact that social media is having on people’s mental health. In 2020, the world was shocked to learn that TV Presenter, Caroline Flack had taken her own life, and a lot of people were quick to blame the media and tabloids for the part they may have played in her death. Many were quick to point out that tabloids had always hounded celebrities but with the accessibility of social media, anyone is now able to pick up their phones and criticise others. But Jesy Nelson isn’t the only celebrity to have faced mockery online.
Back in February 2020, Billie Eilish won 5 Grammy Awards, recorded the new James Bond theme song, and had the best-selling album of 2019, but in a television interview she expressed that it was sometimes hard to celebrate the achievements due to the cruelty faced online, stating that she had to stop reading the comments as “it was ruining [her]life”. Former Girl’s Aloud singer, Nicola Roberts, has also said that social media was a “witch hunt” and that it gave people too much power to be unkind.
Following Caroline’s death, Labour leadership candidates had called for a regulation of social media after denouncing press intrusion whilst Downing Street wanted social media firms to be more proactive in removing “unacceptable content.” They also wanted to remove the power of anonymity people online possess; believing that this minimise the cruelty of others if they are exposed. There was much conflict surrounded this, however, as social media users blamed trolls, politicians blamed social media, and the press blamed reality television. Labour MP, Jo Stevens, who sits on the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee said that everyone was feeding into the cruelty, “Because these stories that are written online, every time someone clicks on a story to read about it, salacious gossip stories about celebrities and personalities, we are feeding that monster because it is creating revenue for the websites.” Whilst there has been some improvement in the restrictions placed on social media platforms, there is still a long way to go.
Edited by Sophie Alexander – Entertainment Editor
Header Image by Annabel Smith – Deputy Head of Design