Janet Jackson Biography

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“There’s nothing more depressing than having everything and still feeling sad”. This is a statement Janet Jackson made in an interlude on her cd “Velvet Rope”. Janet truly knew the feeling because despite having fame and wealth, Janet wasn’t always happy. Born May 16, 1966 in Gary, Indiana to Katherine and Joseph Jackson, Janet was the last of nine children. She grew up in a family of performers and became one herself. But despite her riches and fame Janet has remained down to earth, with her charming and honest demeanor. By growing up close to normal, struggling with negative feelings about her body image and how she handled the death of her brother she is a celebrity people can relate to.

Janet Jackson didn’t have a normal childhood growing up. Her father was so caught up in making sure they worked hard there was no time for affection and attention. Unlike most kids they were told to call their father by his first name instead of dad. “…My father was never there the way I really wanted a father to be…I want to be able to sit on his lap. I want to be able to call him dad.”(Langston). So being rich wasn’t that important, she just wanted to have a better relationship with her father. Jackson also spent long periods of time away from her brothers. She hardly got to see them since they were almost always recording or on tour. “I was close to my brothers growing up, and I missed them a great deal when they would go on tour” (Fletcher). But soon it wasn’t long before she would be the one spending time away from home.

By the time Janet reached the age of seven she began to perform. She knew she was expected to succeed at a young age like her brothers had. She started out with little skits, singing, and dancing. She would also host award shows with her brother Michael. Janet really enjoyed acting. She impersonated famous celebrities like Cher and Mae West, which people loved. She expresses “The standing ovation we received every night let me know I had done my job” (Jackson and Ritz). When Jackson reached age 10 she was casted on the show “Good Times”. It was the start that really got her career going. It also started the negative feelings she had about her body.

Celebrities are put under a lot of stress to remain skinny and attractive, especially women. But holding children to the same standard is something not really heard of. Janet faced these issues at age 10 when they began to produce “Good Times”. “Before production began, I was told two things: I was fat and needed to slim down…The message was also clear--to be successful, I had to change the way I looked”(Jackson and Ritz). Hearing those things at a young age is confusing and strange and if the issue isn’t handled properly it could carry over into adulthood, which is what happened to her. Jackson discussed how she felt in an interview with Meredith Vieira on the “Today” show. “I would literally bang my head up against the wall because I didn’t feel attractive…There was a lot of pain in my life. But I did. I felt very unattractive.”(Langston). Even though she was doing well for herself and others saw her as a great person she didn’t feel the same. Fortunately, she has become more accepting as to who she is and appreciating things now that she wouldn’t before. This is a trait she wants to see in others. But once she started to leap that hurdle another came up in its place.

In 2009, Janet lost someone she was very close to; her brother Michael. Ever since they were children they loved each other very much. Janet would even take care of him sometimes even though he was older. “I would shop for him. I washed his clothes and cleaned his room.”(Fletcher) .Their brother sister relationship was heartwarming. It was evident when they made the song “Scream” together in 1995. They were very loving, encouraging and supportive of one another, which is why Michael’s death was so hard for her. But unlike, most celebrities Janet didn’t make a public scene about it. She gave little input to the media and didn’t discuss how she felt until months later. She dealt with her feelings in private which many people admire and respect. For months she couldn’t listen to his music. She describes “I still have not seen the film, “This is it”. I still can’t watch any of his videos, listen to his music” (Langston). But she has eventually come around.
“And I just spent the 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. Out of everyone in my family, I never had that moment to cry about his death.”
“Why didn’t you have that moment?”

“I don’t know if I 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.”(Langston).
There isn’t a day that goes by where Janet doesn’t think about her brother. And day by day it gets a little easier for her to accept it and move on.

In conclusion, Janet Jackson is a relatable celebrity. She remains kind spirited and genuine despite the privileges she’s had in life. She didn’t have a normal childhood, had issues with how she saw herself and had a rough time dealing with the loss of her brother. But she’s still a great woman who influences people’s lives for the better.





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