By Alex Green, PA Entertainment Reporter
Jesy Nelson has revealed she reached “breaking point” and decided to leave Little Mix during the video shoot for their hit Sweet Melody.
The singer, 29, quit in December after nine years in the X Factor-formed group, saying the high-profile role had “taken a toll” on her mental health.
Her former bandmates, Jade Thirlwall, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Perrie Edwards, voiced their support, later announcing that they would continue to record and perform as a trio.
In an interview and cover shoot with Cosmopolitan magazine, Nelson recalled how after spending lockdown with family she put “enormous” pressure on herself to lose weight ahead of the shoot.
She suffered a panic attack on set because she did not like how she looked, prompting her to make the decision to leave the group.
Sweet Melody later became Little Mix’s fifth number one single and final featuring Nelson as part of the group.
She said: “The last music video we did was the breaking point. We’d been in lockdown, and (that had been) the first time 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. Whenever we had a music video, I put an enormous amount of pressure on myself to try and lose weight.
“I have a fear of looking back on the camera. If I don’t like what I see, I find it so hard to be in front of the camera and feel amazing and perform.
“I’d been in lockdown, and I’d put on a bit of weight but I didn’t care. And (then) they said, ‘You’ve got a music video in a couple of weeks,’ and I just panicked. I went on this extreme diet, with bloody shakes, and tried to eat as little as possible.
“On the day of the Sweet Melody video I had a panic attack on set because I didn’t look how I wanted to look and I found it so hard to just be happy and enjoy myself. 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.”
Nelson said there was one in the Sweet Melody video where she does appear because she was “sobbing” in the dressing room.
“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.”
Little Mix formed on The X Factor in 2011 and have become one of the country’s biggest-selling girlbands.
They left Simon Cowell’s Syco Music for the RCA label in November 2018.