'I Was Told To Lose Weight, So I Fought Back In Public'

I started performing on stage at the age of seven—that's when my music career began, and a few years later, at the age of 11, I was writing and performing my own music for large crowds. This was a big transition for me at such a young age, as I was performing in a summer music tour across the U.S. and Canada, and as the opening act for other artists. My mom, dad, and my little brother had always supported my music journey, but it was extremely difficult to find the balance between having a quiet upbringing in Long Island, New York and growing up in the music industry, as consistent rehearsals, long studio hours, and live performances were the norm.

I was home schooled from the age of 12 to 16, as my parents wanted me to have a music career and also focus on my studies. But, rather than participating in social events such as attending my school prom, I preferred to camp in my parent's basement and write music, instead, as I didn't feel like I fit in. Even when I had attended parties with my friends, I was sometimes pretending to be somebody that I was not.

Of course, during this time, my parents tried to protect me at all costs by fostering a nurturing and affectionate environment for my brother and me, which I am grateful for.

Jax in Her Bedroom
A candid photo of Jax in her bedroom. Jax

Being a child in a cutthroat industry was difficult—for as long as I could remember, several people around me were constantly commenting on my weight, and various people that I knew in the music industry had insisted that I cut up to 10lbs in order to become famous. This haunted me in school, and I remember not eating my lunch from as early as the age of eleven. Instead, I ate ice cubes. I had heard my friends at the time gushing about wanting to have a thigh gap, which was desired as it was viewed as "sexy," even though we were so young.

So, I would constantly compare myself to a photo of a very young girl with a thigh gap, and look in the mirror every day, measuring whether my thighs touched a little less. Although I didn't know this at the time, I was comparing myself to a child, whereas I was about to become a teenager, meaning that my body was naturally evolving—I was noticing having cellulite and new curves on my body that I had feared, as I was told that my childhood body was more seductive. This confused me further as I was also forcing myself to look and feel older in the music industry because the people I was working with wanted me to sell the image of a perfect, sensual, and filtered woman.

This was further heightened when I was around 15. I had worked with a producer who warned me to never leave my house wearing my comfort clothes, so I would attend my younger brother's high school sports games dressed in a bra and shorts, as I had believed that dressing as such would help me become recognized and that this is how a teenager in the music industry should dress.

Within all of this, writing music was my outlet—it allowed me to write letters to people with the hope that one day, they would hear things that I couldn't confront. It allowed me to release all of my doubts and worries, especially the ones surrounding my poor eating habits and body image.

I had never publicly addressed the mental turmoil that I experienced as a child in the music industry, as well as the pressures that came with being encouraged to have a specific body type as a woman. I had always felt that I wasn't ready to speak out, and that perhaps I was unworthy.

That was until I met Chelsea, who I began babysitting in 2019. At the time, Chelsea was 10 years old. We had begun making TikToks together as her friends did not believe that she had a babysitter who she referred to as bubbly and outgoing. Naturally, these TikToks allowed us to bond more and I began to see myself in Chelsea. She had always confided in me about the insensitive comments that other girls in school would make about her weight.

In June 2022, Chelsea was attending her first pool party and went shopping for bikinis at Victoria's Secret with her friends. I had picked her up in my car, and was met with Chelsea hysterically crying because one of her friends had told her that the bathing suit that she had tried on, made her look "too fat" and "too flat." I was furious.

Jax's Victoria Secret Cover
The cover for Jax's song, "Victoria's Secret", which aims to enforce body positivity. Jax

Prior to this, I had written a song called "Victoria's Secret," centered around body positivity, and although I had grappled around with the concept for the song, I could not find the right words to make the song fun and empowering. I wanted young girls and women to dance to this song—I wanted women to feel powerful, not sad.

After my shocking conversation with Chelsea about her body weight, I sat in the studio and wrote the entire song. Although it appears to be targeted at Victoria's Secret, the intention of the song was to tell women that they do not have to listen to an older man's preference when it comes to how their body should look—it was not to say that men can't run businesses, but to raise awareness of the issues that can come with marketing only one body type, and the pain and trauma that type of marketing had caused thousands, if not millions of females, including myself, over the years. I wanted to be clear on the fact that as a business, Victoria's Secret was carefully constructed for a specific body type.

I picked Chelsea up after school a few days, with my "Victoria's Secret" song, ready to play for her. I had initially recorded Chelsea's first reaction to hearing the song and uploaded it on TikTok—it had gained a lot of attention and received over 36 million views worldwide, as women all over the world were beginning to share it.

Two weeks after writing the song, I had also made a passing joke about my friends and I creating a flash mob outside Victoria's Secret. But after some thought, I realized that we could make this a reality. I have always loved flash mobs, I grew up watching them on YouTube. So, my friends and I had reached out to several flash mob companies and found one that was run by a professional choreographer. He asked me if there was anybody that I specifically wanted to include in the flash mob, and I insisted that I wanted to represent every single body type, as well as including disabled women, too.

I also wanted to incorporate a runway to feature people who are extremely underrepresented in the music industry. I had the opportunity to meet other women who had struggled with eating disorders, which inspired me. I met a girl who was a pro dancer but was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome when she was 21, which resulted in her being in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. I was the first person that had booked her as a professional dancer in four years, as after she was diagnosed, nobody wanted to hire her. Rehearsing for the flash mob was like therapy to us, we all cried together and confided in one another—it was a surreal moment for everyone.

My intention in creating the flash mob was to empower women to feel good in their skin, knowing that their body is unique and beautiful, regardless of what any corporation may advertise. I wanted these women to look in the mirror and feel amazing, rather than idolize what they see in the media.

Although I often feel like I may not be the desired person to spearhead a movement as such, due to my own insecurities, Chelsea reminds me every day of why spreading this message is so important to women all over, especially myself.

Jax is a singer and songwriter, who also received attention from women worldwide for addressing body positivity in her song, "Victoria's Secret."

All views expressed in this article are the author's own.

As told to Carine Harb.