Jesy stepped down from Little Mix after nine years in December, saying at the time she was doing so to protect her own mental health.
On Tuesday evening, the singer’s first interview since leaving the chart-topping band was published in Cosmopolitan magazine, where she reflected on her departure from Little Mix and looked to the future as a solo artist.
She also disclosed that she made the decision to quit after an incident on the set of her final music video with the group, for Sweet Melody.
“The last music video we did was the breaking point,” Jesy told Cosmopolitan.
“We’d been in lockdown, and [that had been] the first time [since Little Mix started] I could have a break and be at home around people that I love.
“It was the happiest I’d ever felt, and I didn’t realise that until I went back to work. I immediately became a different person. I had anxiety.”
She explained that when Little Mix filmed music videos, Jesy “put an enormous amount of pressure on myself to try and lose weight”.
“I’d been in lockdown, and I’d put on a bit of weight but I didn’t care,” she said. “And [then] they said, ‘You’ve got a music video in a couple of weeks,’ and I just panicked.”
After crash dieting in the lead-up to the Sweet Melody shoot, Jesy eventually had a panic attack during filming.
“I didn’t look how I wanted to look and I found it so hard to just be happy and enjoy myself,” she recalled. “I looked at the other three and they were having the time of their life.
“I get so jealous, because I want to feel like that and enjoy it, because music is my passion. To have this dream and not be enjoying it because of what I look like, I knew wasn’t normal.”
Jesy pointed out there’s even a part of the Sweet Melody video that she’s absent from, as she was “sobbing” behind the scenes while it was being filmed.
“For me, that was the pinnacle point,” she added. “I was like, ‘I need to start taking care of myself now, because this isn’t healthy.’
“It wasn’t nice for the other three to be around someone who didn’t want to be there. So I took a break.”
Since leaving Little Mix, Jesy has begun recording solo material, a decision she has also defended while speaking to Cosmopolitan.
Jesy insisted: “A lot of people said, ‘I thought you came out of the band to focus on your mental health?’. I never said when I put out my statement, that I was coming out of the band to never be in the public eye, perform again or do music.
“I said I was coming out of the band because I genuinely couldn’t deal with the pressure of being in a girl band. For people to think that I would just stop working completely is crazy because me working on my mental health is going to the studio, and creating music that I love.
“That’s what clears my head and makes me happy. It’s good for my mental health.”
Sweet Melody ended up topping the charts in January, becoming Little Mix’s fifth single to do so, and the remaining members of the band paid tribute to Jesy’s involvement in the song at the time.
More recently, Little Mix unveiled their first single since Jesy’s exit, releasing a re-recorded version of their song Confetti with a guest rap from US artist Saweetie.
In the accompanying music video, they are seen portraying male versions of themselves, something the group has said they have “always wanted to do”.
Read Jesy’s full interview in the June issue of Cosmopolitan, on sale from 6 May.
Useful websites and helplines
Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.
Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill).