Jesy Nelson in the video for 'Boyz'
Jesy Nelson in the video for 'Boyz' Image Credit: YouTube

Singer Jesy Nelson has responded to claims that she was ‘blackfishing’ in the video for her new song ‘Boyz’, which also features rapper Nicki Minaj.

In the music video, Nelson — who is white — can be seen sporting a deep tan. Her clothing and hair, the aesthetic of the video and the lyrics of the song have also been accused of appropriating Black culture.

However, in an Instagram Live with Minaj, Nelson denied the allegations.

“I personally want to say that my intention was never ever to offend people of colour with this video and my song because like I said, growing up as a young girl, this is the music that I listened to,” Nelson said. “These are the videos that I watched and thought were the best. For me personally, ‘90s R’n’B were the best years in music. I just wanted to celebrate that. I just want to celebrate that era of music is what I love.”

Talking about her tanned complexion in the video, the former Little Mix member said there was a simple explanation for it.

“I’m just really lucky as a white girl that when I’m in the sun, I tan so dark like, so many people have said to me before like Leigh-Anne [Pinnock] in the group has said, ‘You sure you’re like not mixed-race because you’ve got darker than me in the sun. That’s crazy,’” Nelson said, referring to her former Little Mix members.

In a statement to Vulture, Nelson said: “I take all those comments made seriously. I would never intentionally do anything to make myself look racially ambiguous, so that’s why I was initially shocked that the term was directed at me.”

British group Little Mix backstage with the Best UK act award during the MTV Europe Music Awards at the Bizkaia Arena in the northern Spanish city of Bilbao on November 4, 2018. Image Credit: AFP

Social media users have also noticed that following the backlash, Nelson’s former Little Mix members had unfollowed her on Instagram.

Nelson, 30, made headlines in late 2020 when she quit the popular British girl group after nine years, following its formation on the ‘X Factor’ in 2011.

The singer cited high pressure and the need to look after her mental health as her main reasons for quitting the quartet, which was made up of her, Pinnock, Perrie Edwards and Jade Thirlwall.

“I need to spend some time with the people I love, doing things that make me happy. I’m ready to embark on a new chapter in my life — I’m not sure what it’s going to look like right now, but I hope you’ll still be there to support me,” she said at the time.