The increasingly tribal nature of fandom, though it might diminish the character of some artists, ultimately stands to benefit them fiscally nonetheless. It’s just a shame that the commercial success of Boyz is buttressed on trolling, bullying, shaming, the pettiest depths of “stan” culture – everything that Nelson has purportedly been against. In a single week, her brand has unravelled.
It once felt good to root for Nelson, a victim of both online and industry abuse, who was outspoken about the constricting effects that came with being in a girl group which appeared to represent female liberation, albeit in a vague and limited way.
Alongside her former bandmates, Nelson came of age during the reign of the Spice Girls in the 1990s, and in the 2010s, Little Mix repackaged the group’s Girl Power mantra for the era of digital surveillance, their music and branding poised as an empowerment-core antidote to (particularly online) shaming. In November, 2018, for instance, they promoted their single ‘Strip’ by posing naked, covered in the words of online abuse they’d each received: “Ugly”, “Bossy”, “Flabby”, “Stupid”, “Insignificant” and “Not Good Enough”.
A year later, Nelson revealed she had been working on a documentary for BBC Three. Entitled Jesy Nelson: Odd One Out, it took an intensely personal look at Nelson’s downward spiral following Little Mix’s early X Factor days, during which she received fatphobic and unsavoury remarks about her appearance, most notably from Katie Hopkins. Within two years of winning the singing competition as Little Mix, Nelson had developed depression, an eating disorder, and attempted suicide, the one-off programme unearthed.