Janet Jackson has claimed that her brother Michael bullied her over her weight, even calling her a ‘pig’ when they were children.
The 55-year-old, whose weight has fluctuated throughout her decades in the spotlight, spoke of her brother’s cruelty in a new documentary.
The singer makes the painful revelations in ‘Janet’, which will premiere on A&E and Lifetime on January 28 in the US and on Sky Documentaries and NOW in the UK January 31.
The four-hour docuseries, which was shot over the course of five years, coincides with the 40th anniversary of her first album and features never-before-seen archive footage from her childhood as well as home videos of her recent years as a mother to son, Eissa Al Mana, five.
In it, she claims her superstar brother could be cruel and would fat shame her when they were young.
‘There were times when Mike used to tease me and call me names. ‘Pig, horse, slut, or hog, cow,” she said.
‘He would laugh about it and I’d laugh too, but then there was somewhere down inside that it would hurt.
‘When you have somebody say you’re too heavy, it affects you.
Janet and Michael Jackson are pictured at the Grammy Awards in 1993, several months before he was accused for the first time of child sex abuse
Jackson is seen in 2002 (left) and in January 2020, at a pre-Grammy gala in Los Angeles
Jackson, far left, in 1986 with her mother Katherine, sister LaToya and her boyfriend Rene Elizondo
Jackson is pictured at an album release party for The Velvet Rope
Jackson said her issues with her weight began when she landed the role in 1970s sitcom Good Times.
Jackson, then 11, joined the cast during the show’s fifth season as Penny – a young girl whom Willona adopts after she’s abandoned by her abusive mother.
‘I’m an emotional eater, so when I get stressed or something is really bothering me, it comforts me.
‘I did Good Times and that’s the beginning of having weight issues and the way I looked at myself.
‘I was developing at a very young age and I started getting a chest and they would bind it so I would look more flat-chested.’
Asked if being in the public eye created the issue, she replied: ‘I probably would have wound up not having a problem.’
Jackson is seen in a still from the documentary, which airs on January 28 and 29
The two-night, four-hour documentary joins Jackson as she travels back to her hometown of Gary, Indiana to see where her journey began
Janet and Michael Jackson are pictured in December 1972, at their Hollywood Hills home
In her 2011 book True You, she wrote about self-image issues, documenting a period in 2006 when she put on weight for a movie and ballooned to 180lbs, only to become fodder for fat jokes in the tabloid press.
‘Your body gets used to different exercises, and I’ve been performing for so long that my body’s just used to it. Actually, I have to work a little harder while doing a show,’ she told Reuters at the time.
Weight gain, she said ‘is something I’ve dealt with my entire life,’ and in 2011 she became a ‘face’ of diet company Nutrisystem.
In January 2017 she gave birth to her son with husband Wissam Al Mana, a Qatari billionaire businessman, and then embarked on a grueling health and fitness kick that saw her lose 70lbs.
She and Al Mana, her third husband, divorced later that year.
She was married from 1984-5 to singer James DeBarge, and from 1991-2000 to dancer Rene Elizondo Jr. From 2002-9 she was in a relationship with producer and rapper Jermaine Dupri.
‘I haven’t given up on love,’ she told the documentary makers.
‘I feel it’s more difficult being in the public eye and looking for love.
‘A healthy relationship would be nice for me in the future.’
Jackson said that she and her brother, who died in 2009 aged 50, drifted apart as they grew older.
When he was first accused of child sex abuse in 1993, by 13-year-old Jordan Chandler, who alleged the singer molested him at his Neverland ranch in California, Jackson said she was devastated – and angry at the personal cost to her.
‘It was frustrating for me,’ she said.
‘We have our own separate lives and even though he’s my brother, that has nothing to do with me.
‘But I wanted to be there for him, to support him as much as I possibly could.’
The lawsuit was settled in January 1994 with a $23 million payout to the Chandlers.
‘Michael wound up giving money to the family. He just wanted it to go away, but that looks like you’re guilty,’ said Jackson.
She said she was at the time about to sign a deal with Coca-Cola, in what would have been the biggest brand deal of her career.
But it was derailed by the allegations.
‘When that came out, Coca-Cola said, ‘No, thank you’. Guilty by association. That’s what they call it, right?’
She and Michael later attacked the coverage of the allegations against him in their 1995 single Scream.
Jackson is seen with her first husband James DeBarge, who she was married to for a year from 1984
‘It was his song and I was there to support him,’ she said.
But she claimed she was frozen out by his team.
‘Michael shot nights, I shot days. His record company would block off his set so I couldn’t see what was going on. They didn’t want me on set.
‘I felt like they were trying to make it very competitive between the two of us.
‘That really hurt me because I felt I was there fighting the fight with him, not to battle him.
‘I wanted it to feel like old times between he and I, and it didn’t. Old times had long passed.’
A few years later her family tried to stage an intervention in his life at his Las Vegas home, with his brothers from The Jackson 5, but he refused to listen.
‘I said, ‘We wanted to talk about you guys going on tour again and if you guys would do that as brothers. I would be honored to open for you’.
‘He didn’t have much to say, he was standoffish. I was really upset.
‘My family chartered a private jet and they came for an intervention. It was a way of us getting close again and he wasn’t having it.’
She said the divisions had begun decades ago, when he released Thriller, in 1982.
‘It was Thriller, that’s when it all started to change,’ she said.
‘I remember really loving the Thriller album but for the first time in my life I felt it was different between us, a shift was happening.
‘That’s the time Mike and I started going our separate ways. He just wasn’t as fun as he used to be.’
Michael Jackson, who died in 2009, is seen in a 1987 publicity shot
Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson and LaToya Jackson are seen at the Santa Maria courthouse for a pretrial hearing in the child molestation case of August 2004
Jackson, who has had 10 US number one hits, and estimated global record sales totaling 100 million, said that her family name has both helped and hindered her.
‘I am thankful because it has opened a great deal of doors for me, having that name,’ she said.
‘And at the same time there’s a great deal of scrutiny which comes with having that last name, a certain expectation.
‘I wanted my own identity, I didn’t want people to pick up this body of music because of my last name.’
In the documentary she discussed at length her controlling and at times abusive father Joe, who died in 2018 aged 89.
‘Growing up, I didn’t experience my father the way I wanted to. You never knew what mood he was in — whether he was in a playful mood. But the way he played wasn’t even funny.
‘My father used to wake us up sometimes by putting matches between our toes and lighting them. He could be very mean at times.’