Janet Jackson has seen a lot of change over the years and she loves it.
The iconic pop star is on the new cover of Allure, and in the issue she opens up about changing beauty standards, her own personal style, how she got started in music, and more.
One big change in the culture that Jackson has witnessed over her lifetime has been women getting to define their own beauty standards.
“Comfortable in their skin, in their size, in being full-figured, and I love that, as opposed to back in the day. You had to always be thin and always look a certain way,” the 55-year-old says. “And now it’s all accepted and it is all beautiful and I absolutely love that.”
As for her own personal style at a young age, Jackson says, “I was never a girly girl. I was always a tomboy. So it was always about pants, suits, even as an early teenager. I remember when my brothers got their star on the Walk of Fame and other awards they got, and I look back on pictures and I always had on a suit with a tie, a bow tie, or suspenders. Always loving black and never wanting to expose any part of my body, I felt most comfortable to cover it up to here.”
She pushed her style further with the release of her 1993 album Janet, tossing modesty aside and taking control of her own body.
“Embracing me and trying to learn to love me for me, my body, all of that. Trying to feel comfortable in embracing that. Throwing myself in the lion’s den. Just going for it, wanting to do something different,” she recalls of that period. “It took a lot of work, a lot of work. It was something very tough, very difficult. But I’m glad I walked through it. I’m really glad I got in. It was a way of accepting and loving, accepting yourself and your body.”
Jackson grew up in a legendary musical household, which had a strong influence on her eventual career as a performer, following in her family’s footsteps.
“We would always write music growing up. We had a studio at my parents’ house; it’s still there actually,” she says. “So any time of day or night, if you couldn’t sleep or had an idea before school, after school, you could go in the studio and put it down, your idea, musically.
“So I did that and I put this idea that I had down and played all the parts on it and, like a genius, I left the tape on the machine and when I came home from school I was so embarrassed. They were listening to the song. My father, some of my brothers. I was so embarrassed. And that’s when my father said, ‘I think you should become a performer.’ I said, ‘No, no, no, no, no! You don’t understand. I want to go to school. I want to go to college and study business law and support myself by acting.’ That’s how it all started.”
But it’s not just about the music for Jackson, as she has used her career to speak out on important issues.
“I feel like I’ve laid a little foundation for myself, so that if I ever choose to, I would be able to continue on that path,” she says. “Musically, what I’ve done, like doing Rhythm Nation or doing New Agenda or doing Skin Game, creating those bodies of work with Jimmy [Jam] and Terry [Lewis], I feel like I’ve laid a certain foundation. I would hope that I’d be able to continue if I choose to. You know what I mean? But only time will tell.”
As for getting older, Jackson says, “Everyone would always want to stay young and this and that but it’s inevitable. I mean, we’re all going to get there. There’s another road. It’s a little bit of zhuzh. I don’t know when my day is coming, but at some point it’s going to come and I can choose which path I want to take. I do hope I age gracefully. It’s either a little bit of zhuzh or gracefully.”