“I think we have several different characters that live within us. It all depends on who we’re interacting with, but that character comes out at that moment.”
~ Janet Jackson
by Seth Eisenberg
At 44, Janet Jackson has learned to direct her own internal cast of characters. In an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan, the acclaimed performer shared a secret that helped her recover from depression, gain control of her eating habits, accept and love herself.
“I think we have several different characters that live within us. It all depends on who we’re interacting with, but that character comes out at that moment,” she said when Morgan asked if there were two Janet Jackson’s.
Two days before her birthday, Michael Jackson’s last words to his sister were, “I love you too, Donk.”
As she approached 43, her much beloved older brother was still reminding her of the teasing she internalized as a child. “Donk” refers to Donkey Fried Chicken.
While she may take time out for tonight’s Academy Awards, Janet Jackson has been busier than ever since her brother’s death.
The woman ranked by Forbes as one of the richest in the entertainment industry took to the air recently to promote her new book, True You: A Journey to Finding and Loving Yourself, and an ambitious tour that kicks off at Houston’s Reliant Stadium Friday before heading to the land of Rahm Emanuel Monday for three sold-out performances at the Chicago Theatre.
True You shares Janet Jackson’s journey from the shadows of the famous Jackson family to becoming one of the world’s most recognized, influential solo performers.
From the age of ten, when she debuted on Good Times, Janet Jackson was told to slim down. Teased relentlessly by her brothers and with a father unable to provide the love she craved, Janet Jackson grew up believing she wasn’t good enough.
“The way you are, you’re not good enough. That began when I was ten years old,” Janet Jackson said.
“My father was never there the way I really wanted a father to be,” she added. “I wanted to be able to call him dad. I tried it once. He said ‘I’m Joseph to you, do not call me dad.’ That affects you as a kid.”
Jackson said she realizes today that her father’s actions were not about her.
“A lot of times I felt my father took things out on us because of issues outside the home,” she said.
Despite critical acclaim in television, film and becoming one of the all-time best-selling artists in the history of contemporary music, early messages stuck, ultimately leading to depression.
Jackson said she turned to overeating for comfort and escape before discovering the power to own and direct her life.
True You is the story of learning to understand and work with her own internal cast of characters on the way to breaking free of the attitudes that brought her down. The book includes recipes and lifestyle-changing tips from nutritionist David Allen, who helped Janet Jackson reconnect with her spirit, heart and soul.
“My life didn’t change until I opened up and started to talk about it. Up until that point I would still put on a pair of pants and if my butt looked too big, I didn’t want the pants, as much as I loved them. But it was nine years ago when he [Jermaine Dupri] said ‘your butt’s fine the way it is.’ I’m really grateful to him for showing me that side of myself.”
Jackson said her book is a “call to tune in to your own fundamental wisdom, to let go of the ugly comparisons, and to understand that who you are, the true you, is more than enough.”
“I’m loved, I’m valued, and I’m capable of achieving balance in my life,” Jackson said. “I can learn to eat well. I can exercise. I can express gratitude for the simple act of being able to breathe in and breathe out. I can move away from darkness and depression to light and hope. I can be happy with who I am, not what I should be, or what I might have been, or what someone tells me I must be. I am me, the true me; you are you, the true you and that’s good. That’s beautiful. That’s enough.”
“I am me,” by Virginia Satir
Seth Eisenberg is President of the nonprofit PAIRS Foundation in Weston, Florida, an industry leader in relationship and marriage education.