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Janet Jackson Says Talking About Her Super Bowl Moment Now Is “Not Just for Me, But for Women”


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Janet Jackson is addressing the negative response to her and Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime performance in 2004 ahead of the premiere of her career-spanning Lifetime documentary, Janet.

The multihyphenate spoke to Allure for their latest cover story in an interview that touches on why she’s refrained from commenting for so many years, but also the significance of the public’s renewed interest in how she was shamed in the days and even years following the incident.

“It’s tough for me to talk about that time,” Jackson told the magazine. “Whether I want to be part of that conversation or not, I am part of that conversation.”

Still, the chart-topping music legend said she thinks that the conversation around her performance, which saw Timberlake at one point expose part of her chest during the live telecast, is “important.”

“Not just for me, but for women. So I think it’s important that conversation has been had,” Jackson said. “And things have changed obviously since then for the better.”

During the interview, Jackson didn’t get into more specifics, nor did she acknowledge recent reporting, including a New York Times documentary, about the event and the conservative backlash against her, a Black female artist, that followed.

Jackson noted in the cover story that her confidence around her body and ownership of her sexuality hasn’t always come easy. “I was never a girly girl. I was always a tomboy. So it was always about pants, suits, even as an early teenager,” she recalled. “I remember when my brothers got their star on the Walk of Fame and other awards they got, and I look back on pictures and I always had on a suit with a tie, a bow tie, or suspenders. Always loving black and never wanting to expose any part of my body, I felt most comfortable to cover it up to here.”

That changed, she said, as she got older, and began “embracing me and trying to learn to love me for me, my body, all of that.”

While Jackson was heavily criticized by the media, politicians, viewers and others following the 2004 halftime show, she’s since been credited with paving the way for other female performers and women, in general, to be more accepting of their own bodies, regardless of societal standards.

Jackson even pointed to Grammy-winning artist Lizzo, whom she admires, as an example of how women’s public ownership of their bodies — and the sometimes vicious narratives around them — has evolved.

It’s a shift that Jackson praised, saying that women have gotten “comfortable in their skin, in their size, in being full-figured and I love that, as opposed to back in the day. You had to always be thin and always look a certain way. And now it’s all accepted and it is all beautiful.”

The trailer for her upcoming two-part documentary, slated to air on Lifetime and A&E — which honors the 40th anniversary of her debut album with its Jan. 28-29 release — indicates the performer will likely be more open about how her life and career were changed following the Super Bowl moment.

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