THEY have constantly described themselves as “sisters” and “best friends”, but the Little Mix rift appears to be widening.
The three remaining band members unfollowed Jesy Nelson on Instagram this week – after she launched solo single Boyz – and even Perrie Edwards’ dog has snubbed her on social media.
And Leigh-Anne Pinnock is thought to have sent a message to influencer No Hun claiming it’s Jesy who has blocked her old bandmates, saying she had “Cut us off. Horrible person.”
She also seemed to pile in on accusations Jesy is blackfishing – when a white person uses black culture to further a career – with her new single Boyz.
Body language expert Judi James says Jesy, 30, is taking a leaf out of Prince Harry’s book and distancing herself from her past life to “save” herself.
Meanwhile there are subtle signs that the remaining trio of Leigh-Anne, Perrie and Jade Thirlwall are “concerned and anxious” about the split.
“Part of the Little Mix appeal for the fans has always been the sense of unity and sisterhood between the four women who are apparently enjoying successful, enviable lifestyles,” she tells The Sun.
“It’s hard to watch Jesy’s split from Little Mix without thinking of Prince Harry’s split from the Royal Firm to protect his mental health and to get away from the trolls and the restrictions of royal life.
“Like Harry, Jesy has gone on to launch a new career that seems to be global.”
Channelling Harry and Meghan
Since her departure in December, nearly ten years after the group were formed on The X Factor, Jesy has openly discussed her mental health battles and admitted she struggled to enjoy the success of the band.
She has also revealed she felt out of place alongside her “skinny” bandmates and even tried to take her own life.
Now Judi says she is actively seeking distance – and using similar language to royal couple Harry and Meghan.
“Jesy openly and honestly refers to a band as a ‘machine’ where she felt ‘trapped’ and had no say over her outfits or styling,” she says.
“Like Prince Harry she describes leaving as ‘liberating’ and even uses the phrase ‘my own truth’ like Meghan and Harry.
“Jesy has been so vulnerable for such a long time and this truth must be important to her when she’s explaining her decision to her fans.”
Although outwardly, Jesy heaps praise on her former bandmates, and says she has the “best memories” of their time together, she recently admitted they had not been in touch.
She also ignored a post announcing the arrival of Perrie’s baby boy, Axel, in August while other celebs including Stacey Solomon and Giovanna Fletcher rushed to congratulate the new mum and her boyfriend Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
“Jesy needed to save herself,” says Judi. “And keeping a distance between herself and the other three women might have been necessary if she wanted to free herself and her thoughts and emotions from her old life in the band.
“When she says they have lost touch it could have been less about a rift and more about Jesy taking time to heal.
“Unlike Harry, Jesy’s relationship with the other band members always looked like it was based on support and love rather than anger and resentment.
“Rumours of a rift could be adding to the pressure on all of the women, as it will easily lead to professional comparisons as they launch new singles, albums and videos.”
Different poses suggest Jesy is outsider
Cracks in the relationship between the girls first appeared in 2017, when pictures of Leigh-Anne, Perrie and Jade on nights out without Jesy appeared.
Feud rumours were heightened when Jesy was cropped out of a red carpet snap, taken at the Nickelodeon Kids awards ceremony and posted on Perrie’s Instagram.
Explaining the picture, Perrie said: “Jesy is cropped out the picture because she doesn’t like any of the photos!”
But Judi says that, while the girls’ body language shows they were protective of Jesy while she was part of the band, there was an emotional gulf before the split.
“All the body language between showed Leigh-Anne, Perrie and Jade grouping around Jesy to offer love and support, making it sad to see signs that rapport between them all might have withered and a rift appeared in its place,” she says.
“Even when it was becoming clear that Jesy was deeply unhappy and suffering we were always shown footage of the other three girls appearing to take a protective stance towards her.
“[In later years] the body language of the band has often seemed to define an emotional distancing between Jesy and the other women which Jesy described as watching her ‘skinny’ bandmates having a good time while she ‘felt miserable’.
“She adopted different poses, standing with more space between them and often looking desperately sad and unsmiling, or gazing in a different direction while the others adopted more ‘matching’ poses and fun facial expressions.”
‘Finger-fiddling rituals’ hint at anxiety
The title of Jesy’s 2019 documentary about mental health, Odd One Out, hinted at her feelings about not fitting in with her bandmates.
After Jesy’s statement that she was leaving the band, the remaining girls released a response saying: “This is an incredibly sad time for all of us but we are fully supportive of Jesy.
“We love her very much and agree that it is so important that she does what is right for her mental health and well-being.”
And in an interview on This Morning, in April, Judi says there were signs of anxiety and “strong emotion” surrounding Jesy’s departure.
“The suppressed anxiety from the other three bandmates after she left was visible in their body language,” she says.
“Their attempts to signal continuity was visible in their tightly mirrored body language and their trait of all talking excitedly at the same time.
“When one performed a gesture the other two would follow suit. They looked upbeat until Jesy’s exit was mentioned, and their energy levels seemed to dip while their lips pursed.
“They used finger-fiddling rituals to hint at anxiety and concern.
“They paused after being asked about how they were coping and they appeared to swerve the question, using the words ‘moving forward’ in an attempt to signal ‘business as usual’.
“This didn’t look or sound unfeeling, as their faces could have dropped out of concern for the woman they all spoke about as a best friend and sister, but it did suggest how strong their emotions were at the time.”
Jesy’s ‘pinch gesture’ suggests clear thinking
With rift rumours rife back home, this week Jesy once again praised her bandmates, telling a US chat show the decision to leave the band “was so hard” and that she “cried so much”.
She went on: “It was a rollercoaster of emotions but I know I’ve made the right decision because this is genuinely the happiest I’ve felt in my whole life.
“I’ve got the most incredible memories of being in Little Mix, especially doing it with the girls. They were my sisters, my best friends.”
Judi says her body language in the interview conveyed “odd and slightly conflicting sentiments”.
“When she talks about ‘letting people down’ in the band, she switches from using ‘I’ to ‘You’, saying ‘You feel trapped’ and so on,” she says.
“This de-personalisation suggests the memory is still difficult for her.
“This leads to one of her most powerful points when she says, ‘I feel free’.
“Her eyes go to the camera and her hands perform a precision pinch to suggest clear, precise thinking.
“‘I’ve got to focus on me, I’ve only got me to worry about’ comes with her hands moving in front of her torso in a self-protective gesture.
“Jesy raises her eyes upward to think and to speak as though trying to rise above and diminish her previous problems. The upward eye roll is also a cut-off gesture as though she still finds it difficult to discuss.
“She hints about the others sharing some of her feelings or plans when she says, ‘We are all at a point in our lives where we want to focus on ourselves for a bit and do what makes us happy’.
“This group-think statement hints that they might also need to be happier and more self-focused.
“She is quite upbeat about mentioning two of them have had babies, which is slightly at odds with some claims that she hasn’t congratulated them on social media.”
Drifted due to lack of contact
Judi says that months of non-communication means initial support from Perrie, Jade and Leigh-Ann has waned.
“There was mutual sympathy, support, empathy and understanding initially,” she says.
“So recent rumours about the women unfollowing each other on social media are sad and worrying, if it announces a new phase in their relationship.
“Sadly ‘unfollowing’ someone has become a very public announcement in terms of splits and divorces and unless celebs quickly re-follow to show it was just a quick blip, and not to be taken seriously, it can look serious.
“The women all claim to love one another but when there has been a lack of communication it can be hard to read one another’s minds.
“Hopefully they will change that soon, before stories of competition and rivalry become the norm.”