Jesy Nelson has been accused of causing the rift with her Little Mix bandmates after quitting the group without telling them first.
The singer, 30, announced she was leaving the band in December 2020 when she shared a lengthy statement on Instagram stating she was stepping back to protect her mental health.
However, a source has now revealed that the move came as a complete shock to members Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Perrie Edwards and Jade Thirlwall, who had not been spoken to about the decision and only realised once they saw the post.
The surprise move kickstarted tensions between the girls – who have not spoken with Jesy for a year.
‘She created this scenario’: Jesy Nelson is ‘to blame’ for the Little Mix rift after she quit the band WITHOUT telling them and ignored countless warnings over blackfishing claims
Now the girls’ fallout has taken an ugly and public turn, with Leigh-Anne accusing Jesy of of ‘blackfishing’ – a term used to describe a white person attempting to appear to have black heritage – in leaked messages – while Jesy was seen laughing as Nicki Minaj accused Leigh-Anne of being a ‘jealous clown’.
Yet a source insisted that the tensions have been brewing for months, telling MailOnline: ‘Jesy created this scenario. She left the band without telling the girls or management!’
‘Those around her have been supporting her for ten years and protected her and are devastated over all this.’
After Jesy made her statement, the girls – while hurt – chose not to speak out about their surprise, and showed their support as they scrambled to release a statement expressing their love for her.
In the dark: Jesy’s decision to quit came as a complete shock to members Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jade Thirlwall and Perrie Edwards, who only found out once they saw Jesy’s post
The row between the former bandmates hit global headlines this week when leaked messages between Leigh-Anne and influencer NoHun saw the singer accuse Jesy of blackfishing in the music video for her new single, Boyz.
Jesy then took part in an Instagram livestream with Boyz collaborator Nicki, who accused Leigh-Anne of trying to ruin Jesy’s new solo career and branded the new mother and the rest of the group ‘jealous miserable clowns’.
Jesy was then said to be ‘devastated’ Leigh-Anne had ‘sparked racial hatred’ and a new wave of intense trolling towards her, telling pals she couldn’t believe ‘someone she once called family could be so cruel.’
Way back when: Little Mix were put together on the X Factor in 2011 and had global fame with many of their hits – before Jesy suddenly left the band (pictured with mentor Tulisa)
However, a source clarified to MailOnline: ‘It’s not fair to criticise Leigh-Anne over this. She was just upset as were others over blackfishing, and social media is awash with it.’
They added that Jesy should have been aware of the backlash her music video would receive as she had already been spoken about blackfishing by Leigh-Anne during her time in the band.
They explained: ‘Everyone had been very supportive to Jesy. Leigh Anne and others sat down with Jesy years ago and spoke to her about blackfishing – and warned her about her excessive tanning and wearing braids.
‘The word “blackfishing” may not have been used but the principle of it was. But Jesy didnt want to hear it – she just didn’t want to know! It’s not new news to her.’
MailOnline has contacted Jesy’s representatives for comment.
Emotional: Jesy announced she was leaving the band in December 2020 when she shared a lengthy statement on Instagram stating she was stepping back to protect her mental health.
Support: Roughly an hour later Little Mix also took to Instagram to share the news as they admitted it was an ‘incredibly sad time’ for the band but they ‘fully supported’ Jesy’s decision
The blackfishing row shows no signs of dying down anytime soon, however, after Jesy’s pal Nicki doubled down on her row with Leigh-Anne in a series of tweets on Tuesday.
After hitting out at Leigh-Anne during her Instagram live with Jesy on Monday, the rapper reiterated her comments in tweets on Tuesday – taking aim at Leigh-Anne’s ‘messy’ fans and accusing them of having a negative impact on Jesy’s mental health.
Jesy has spoken candidly about her mental health battles in the past, and revealed in her 2019 BBC documentary, Odd One Out, that she attempted suicide after being subjected to vicious trolling.
Blackfishing? Jesy was accused of blackfishing after releasing the music video to her single, Boyz – a remake of Diddy’s 2001 video Bad Boy For Life, which she samples in her new track
Heard it all before: Jesy should have been aware of the backlash her music video would receive as she had already been spoken about blackfishing by Leigh-Anne during her time in the band
What is ‘blackfishing’?
A newly coined phrase in 2018, ‘blackfishing’ describes someone who pretends to be black on social media for social or financial gain – using make-up, hairstyles, or even surgery to alter their appearance and adopt characteristics typically associated with women of colour.
The term came to prominence after a post calling out the ‘alarming’ amount of ‘white girls cosplaying as black women on Instagram’ was liked nearly 50,000 times on Twitter.
It prompted users to flood the thread with before and after snaps revealing drastic changes to certain influencers’ appearance.
Following a backlash over the livestream chat, Trinidadian-born rapper Nicki noted Jesy’s mental state as she tweeted: ‘JeLeigh btchs actin real messy. ~ if you know someone has been suicidal from bullying in the past, why try to get a bunch of ppl to bully them again about smthng else, on an even bigger scale?
‘Shame on you— that’s rlly sad. You don’t know what ppl can deal with. Mental Health [sic].’
The post came after Nicki also took a not-so subtle swipe at Leigh-Anne in which she accused the singer of only speaking out about blackfishing now that Jesy is no longer helping the band make money.
‘You know she was suicidal, shame on you!’: The blackfishing row shows no signs of dying down anytime soon after Nicki Minaj (left) doubled down on her row with Leigh-Anne
Nicki posted: ‘Don’t call things out when they benefit your personal vendetta to ppl. Call them out immediately once you see it chile. Don’t wait a decade after you’ve made millions with the person #BoyzOutNow.
‘When ppl can’t get money with you they always try to stop your bag. Well only the corny ones chile #BoyzOutNow going live in one hour.
‘Jesy! We got all these #Jelly btchs actin real MESSY!!!!! Stop it miss gorl Flag of United Kingdom going live in one hour on IG to get into sum thangz [sic]’.
The row has stemmed from a string of leaked messages released by influencer NoHun, in which Leigh-Anne allegedly accused Jesy of ‘blackfishing’ with her new music video.
Not holding back: After lashing out at Leigh-Anne on Instagram live, Nicki then took aim at Leigh-Anne’s ‘messy fans’, accusing them of having a negative impact on Jesy’s mental health
Painful: Jesy has spoken candidly about her mental health battles and revealed in her 2019 BBC documentary, Odd One Out, that she attempted suicide after being subjected to trolling
Three years ago Jesy was first accused of cultural appropriation when she sported braids in her hair in a photo posted to Instagram, which was later deleted.
She came under fire yet again after releasing the music video to her new single, Boyz – a remake of Diddy’s 2001 video Bad Boy For Life, which she samples in her new track.
Addressing the claims in an interview with Vulture, Jesy claimed that she was never targeted with ‘blackfishing’ claims while she was in Little Mix and has only faced such criticism following her departure from the girlband.
‘I’m very aware that I’m a white British woman; I’ve never said that I wasn’t,’ she said, defended herself from the accusations.
‘But I mean, like, I love Black culture. I love Black music. That’s all I know; it’s what I grew up on.’
Eek: The post came after Nicki took a swipe at Leigh-Anne in which she accused the singer of only speaking out about blackfishing now that Jesy is no longer helping the band make money
Jesy’s Boyz collaborator Nicki stood up for Jesy during an Instagram live stream by saying: ‘Bringing someone down is clown behaviour. […] Why didn’t they say anything when [Jesy] was in the band. All of a sudden [Jesy] is not in the band anymore. They have something to say about it.’
Nicki went on: ‘Sweetheart take them f****** text messages and shove it up your a**.. Don’t come out and ruin anyone.’
Jesy, who had stayed silent throughout Nicki’s tirade, laughed at this before the Superbass singer added: ‘Only jealous people do things like this. It makes you a big jealous bozo. I love you guys but please don’t do this. Let these people be miserable all by themselves.’
Shock swipe: Jesy’s Boyz collaborator Nicki stood up for Jesy amid the blackfishing row during an Instagram live stream on Monday
Nicki also said: ‘A lot of women tan, get bigger lips and get stuff done to themselves’ in reference to the blackfishing accusation.
Defending herself, Jesy spoke up and said: ‘I just personally want to say, it was never intention to offend people of colour with this video – this is what I grew up with.
‘In my opinion, 90/00s R’n’B is the best era of music. I just wanted to celebrate that. My intentions were never to offend anyone. It really hurts me that I have hurt people’s feelings.’
Speaking out: Leigh-Anne allegedly accused Jesy of blackfishing in messages to influencer NoHun – who shared the exchange on his Instagram Story
She then went onto reveal that she didn’t even have any fake tan on in the music video, which was released in conjunction with the new song.
Jesy said that she had a natural tan from being in Antigua a few weeks prior to the shoot, and she even claimed that Leigh-Anne once asked her if she was sure she wasn’t mixed race because she tanned so easily in the sun.
She went on: ‘I have naturally curly hair. In this industry if you keep putting s*** on your hair it gets damaged. I wanted to get a wig that emulated my hair for the video.’
Nicki collaborated with Little Mix back in 2018 on the song Woman Like Me, but this fact did not feature heavily in the conversation between the two on the livestream.
Opinionated: Nicki went on, ‘Sweetheart take them f****** text messages and shove it up your a**.. Don’t come out and ruin anyone’
Earlier On Monday, Leigh-Anne allegedly claimed that and her bandmates did not unfollow the star on Instagram as has been widely reported but were instead blocked by Jesy.
A slew of messages to NoHun saw Leigh-Anne insist that ‘no one knows anything’ when it comes to the fallout and that she was ‘raging’.
Defence: Jesy defended herself against blackfishing, saying .’I just personally want to say, it was never my intention to offend people of colour with this video – this is what I grew up with’
The leaked messages showed Leigh-Anne replying to NoHun’s poll, asking whether he should create a dance routine to Jesy’s debut solo single Boyz.
Leigh-Anne appeared to respond telling him ‘no’, leading to a shocked No Hun replying: ‘Omg Leigh-Anne I thought you were all okay. Wtf (sic).’
Leigh-Anne then continued: ‘Do a video about her being a blackfish instead… She blocked us. Cut us off.’
A second slew of messages saw Leigh-Anne insist that ‘no one knows anything’ when it comes to the fallout and that she was ‘raging’.
The claims that Jesy blocked her bandmates on social media come following reports that Leigh-Anne, Perrie Edwards and Jade Thirlwall had unfollowed Jesy on social media a day after she dropped her first single Boyz, featuring rappers Nicki Minaj and Diddy.
As well as the singer’s personal accounts, an Instagram account for Perrie’s dog Hatchi also unfollowed Jesy.
The official Little Mix Instagram account does appear to still be following Jesy, however.
Old pals? Nicki collaborated with Little Mix back in 2018 on the song Woman Like Me, but this fact did not feature heavily in the conversation between the two on the livestream
NoHun has since deleted the exchange from Instagram, but shared a TikTok video in which he accused Leigh-Anne of asking him to do the band’s ‘dirty work’ with her request that he make a video about blackfishing.
He said: ‘I don’t think it’s appropriate for a member of Little Mix to message me after I posted a video dancing to the new Jesy Nelson song, saying that I should make a video about her being a blackfish instead.
‘So you want me to create content that you know is going to incite hatred and bullying to a person who has been so open and honest and vocal about how trolling has affected their mental health?’
Little Mix were put together on the X Factor in 2011 and had global fame with many of their hits – before Jesy suddenly left the band back in December 202O, citing her mental health, before going on to launch her solo career.
Perrie, Jade and Leigh-Anne have continued performing as Little Mix as a trio.
While Jesy has opened up about the lack of contact she has had with the band since leaving, the rest of the girls have remained tight-lipped over her departure.
Speaking to Glamour magazine, Jesy claimed: ‘I haven’t spoken to the girls. It is weird because for so many years we were as close as sisters, together every hour of the day for weeks, sharing beds, laughing, crying just 24/7 the four of us together and then… Nothing.’
Jesy announced her departure from the group one year after filming a BBC documentary Jesy Nelson: Odd One Out, in which she revealed she had attempted to take her own life after years of relentless trolling and abuse.
Leaked: Influencer NoHun (pictured) shared a slew of messages that he claims were between himself and Leigh-Anne before blasting the star for asking him to do her ‘dirty work’ and make a video about blackfishing
In August, Leigh-Anne welcomed twins with her footballer boyfriend Andre Gray while five days later, Perrie introduced her baby son Axel to the road with her partner, footballer Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
When asked if she had seen the tots, Jesy said: ‘No. I’ve sent a few texts, but that’s it. I can’t explain it, it’s like there has to be this distance…
‘We were so close so you can’t do in-between, there has to be space and hopefully… Hopefully at some point in the future we can all come back together. I love them. They are my sisters in so many ways, but for the time being we just don’t talk.’
Jesy also explained that the pressure of being compared to ‘these three naturally gorgeous, super teeny-tiny girls’ was crippling.
On dealing with being around the other girls, Jesy recently told Fearne Cotton’s podcast on her Happy Place podcast: ‘To be compared every single day to three other girls was draining, and I couldn’t deal with that anymore…
‘And I think a lot of people have misconstrued what I meant in my statement, they’re like oh, so now she’s going solo. I never said in my statement, I’m coming out of the music industry, I’m not going to do music anymore…
‘I said, I’m just going to start a new chapter of my life, I just want to make myself happy. I don’t know what that’s going to be, but I need to look after myself now, make myself feel better again.’
Shunned? Little Mix didn’t appear to acknowledge Jesy’s single and were instead seen promoting a limited edition of their own record Between Us