The following article contains discussion around eating disorders and imagery that some readers may find upsetting.
Jesy Nelson has opened up about an unhappy time in her life when she "starved" herself, encouraging fans in a heartbreaking social media post not to make similar mistakes.
The former Little Mix band member revealed in December that she had quit the girl group for the sake of her mental health.
Posting a throwback photo to Instagram on Wednesday (February 24), Jesy candidly spoke about the toll of being in the public eye, detailing an incident at a gym which saw her bemoan her lack of "a thigh gap" while "starving" herself, due to a mistaken belief that "being skinny would make [her] happier".
"I just saw this picture pop up on my feed and it made me feel so sad," Jesy wrote.
"On the day this picture was taken, I remember going to the gym with my manager and I stood in the mirror and I said, 'god, I'm so fat, I just want my legs to be like this' and I pulled my skin around to try and create a thigh gap because I genuinely believed that being skinny would make me happier.
"And even when I got to a size 8 from starving myself, I still wasn't happy. I mentally bullied myself every day to try to please other people. It's taken me 10 years to realise that I'm the only person I need to please."
She added: "As humans, we find it so easy to pay other people compliments but yet find it so hard to be kind to ourselves because it's so much easier to pick ourselves apart than to find the things we love about ourselves.
"So if you're someone who is feeling like I was, please don't waste years of [your] life seeking approval from others, seek approval from yourself. Be your number one fan. You are the one in control of your happiness and you are the only one of you in this world and that's pretty f**king powerful!"
Explaining her exit from the band last year, Jesy said: "The truth is recently being in the band has taken a toll on my mental health. I find the constant pressure of being in a girl group and living up to expectations very hard.
"There comes a time in life when we need to reinvest in taking care of ourselves rather than focusing on making other people happy, and I feel like now is the time to begin that process."
Beat (www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk) promotes awareness and understanding of eating disorders, also challenging inaccurate stereotypes and stigma. Beat now has a one-to-one secure messaging service. Its phone helpline for those aged 18 and over is 0808 801 0677, and there's also a dedicated Youthline for those under 18 – 0808 801 0711.
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