Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Janet Jackson: I Never, Ever Felt Attractive

In an exclusive interview (to promote her new book True You: A Journey to Finding and Loving Yourself) with The Today Show's Meredith Vieira, Janet Jackson opens up about, ahem, finding and loving herself, her late brother Michael and on her abusive and controlling father, Joe.
In the book, which debuts Feb. 15, Jackson writes that even while her hit album, 'Rhythm Nation,' was topping the charts, "I hated what I saw in the mirror. I would literally bang my head against the wall because I felt so ugly." That self-loathing, she tells Vieira, stems from her childhood, when she would compare herself to her sister, Rebbie. "I never, ever felt attractive," she says. "And I still have issues with it. I don't bang my head up against the wall, but I still have those moments. And I think it'll probably continue, but at least I know how to deal with it now. And I'm in a much better space." Part of her insecurity stems from being teased as a child by her brothers, who called her everything from a horse and a pig to a cow and a slaughter hog, she says. Her brother, Michael, she says, would tease her about her butt. "He never meant for it to be cruel," she says. "He didn't realize what the effect that it was having on me ... And it really affected me." Still, she never told Michael that his verbal jabs hurt her because that was "just the kind of kid that I was. I never did. Never, ever did. Never said, 'You know, that really hurts me when you say that.' I got called a lot of names, a lot of names. I would laugh about it. I guess some people could say, 'Oh that's, you know, brothers and sisters joking, it's all affection, it's all, you know, it's in a loving way.' But not everybody can brush it off, and I was one of those." During the interview, Jackson opens up about her father, Joseph, saying that she feared him as a child. She talks about how her father hit her with a belt when she got out of the bath as a young child. "That was the only time my father ever whupped me," she says. "And I can't even remember what I did, but I remember it happening. And I don't think I deserved it. I don't think it should have ever happened. A lot of times I felt that my father would take things out on us because of ... I don't know, issues outside of the home. But we were, we were afraid of my father, growing up." She says she wished he could be like other fathers. But clearly he wasn't. "My father and I, we've gone through our moments, we've had a different kind of relationship ... My father was never there the way I really wanted a father to be ... I would see my friends interact with their dad, and I would say to myself, "That's what I want to do. I want to be able to sit on his lap. I want to be able to call him, 'Dad.' He said, 'I'm Joseph to you. You do not call me Dad.' See, you're gonna start me to going here. That affects you as a kid ... I know my father loves me. He just has a very, very different way of showing it."
Jackson also opens up about losing her brother, "Mike," to whom she dedicated the book. She writes about how close they were growing up. "Mike named me Dunk, and we shared every dream, every confidence. I was his little sister." She tells Vieira, "We had each other's back. But, later on in life, certain things that he was going through ... I tried to be there for him as much as I could." Jackson last saw her brother two days before her birthday and says that she told him that she loved him. It was "the last thing we said to one another. I said, 'I love you.' He says, 'I love you, too, Dunk.'" She says it took her a long time to be able to watch his videos and listen to his music because the pain was too great. "I was in Paris," says Jackson. "At some point you have to move on. There's still not a day that goes by where I don't think about him. Not one day. And -- kind of pushing myself, forcing myself, to a certain degree, to get over this because it's -- it's not the healthiest. I just spent the night just watching all his videos, listening to his music. And there was moments when I -- I felt the cry, and moments that made me laugh. And, it was good for me. I needed it. Out of everyone in my family, I never had that moment to cry about his death. I don't know if it was trying to shield the pain, or just trying to hold it all together because I saw that everyone else around me was falling apart. And never, never taking that moment to really grieve. Really grieve, even at the service." When Vieira asked her if she really did grieve that night in Paris, Jackson replied, "There's more to come. I know there's more to come."
The full interview airs Feb. 13 on Dateline and highlights will air Feb. 11 and Feb. 14 on Today. Here's a preview.

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