Janet Jackson says painful ‘Nipplegate’ backlash is ‘tough to talk about’

In 2004, Janet Jackson was ensnared in a booby trap — well, one of her own.

Since the infamous Super Bowl “Nipplegate” (featuring Justin Timberlake), Jackson has barely spoken about the wardrobe malfunction, save for an exclusive with Oprah.

But in a tell-all interview with Allure, the 55-year-old icon opened up about her nip slip and its ripple effect.

“What’s really important is going back to having that foundation. Not just family, but God. That’s what really pulled me through,” Jackson said. “It’s tough for me to talk about that time.”

Her accidental exposure, seen by 143 million global viewers, came after years of strife being a woman in the music industry.

“I was never a girly girl. I was always a tomboy,” she said. “So it was always about pants, suits, even as an early teenager.”

In the interview, Jackson opened up about her personal style and brand, and her transition from modest to revealing looks as she aged.

At the beginning of her career, she was always covered, paving her career with her unabashed talent, not her body.

But as years continued on, she “reconsidered modesty,” breaking out of her button-up shirts and self-effacing style.

“[I was] trying to feel comfortable in embracing that,” she said of her nude magazine and album covers. “Throwing myself in the lion’s den. Just going for it, wanting to do something different.”

That era of her life, she added, was about “embracing” herself, her body and her sexuality — something that has kept her in current conversations about gender bias and race.

“I think it’s important. Not just for me, but for women,” she said.

Janet Jackson
Jackson’s journey as a woman in the industry was fraught with body-image expectations, which she eventually began to defy.
Bruce Glikas/WireImage

When she first began her music career, she was told she wouldn’t be as successful as she wanted because of her gender. And, in addition to achievement barriers in the male-dominated industry, she was expected to be thin and seemingly perfect.

“It was difficult at times being a woman and being told, ‘No, you can’t.’ Why? ‘Because women don’t do that,’ ” Jackson said.

With that constant limelight attention also comes everyone noticing the aging process, which Jackson only hopes she can do “gracefully.”

But just because Hollywood wants her to stay looking youthful, doesn’t mean she’ll indulge in the ever-popular plastic surgery and filler trends.

“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,” she said, adding that she refuses to ever fill or freeze her face. “It’s either a little bit of zhuzh or gracefully.”

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