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Jesy Nelson has addressed claims that she is Blackfishing since going solo, saying "I’m very aware that I’m a white British woman".
The former Little Mix star left the group in December and has since launched a solo career, releasing her first single, Boyz, yesterday (8 October).
But she has come under fire with accusations of Blackfishing - a word used to describe someone changing the way they look to appear Black or racially ambiguous - since shrugging off her Little Mix style.
Nelson, 30, told Vulture that she had only started to be accused of Blackfishing since leaving the group, but claimed she was simply going back to her original look.
She said: "The whole time I was in Little Mix I never got any of that. And then I came out of [the band] and people all of a sudden were saying it. I wasn’t on social media around that time, so I let my team [deal with it], because that was when I’d just left.
"But I mean, like, I love Black culture. I love Black music. That’s all I know; it’s what I grew up on.
"I’m very aware that I’m a white British woman; I’ve never said that I wasn’t."
Asked about people who had called her out for her image change in comments on her Instagram being blocked from her account, Nelson said she didn't know anything about it and suggested "her team" could have been responsible.
The singer, who has collaborated with Nicki Minaj for Boyz, added that she was just resuming her sense of style from the days before her Little Mix fame and said she wanted to be "authentic and true" to herself, adding "don't be a part of my journey" to those who didn't like it.
Nelson quit Little Mix in December, saying: “The truth is recently being in the band has really 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."
She had previously made acclaimed documentary Odd One Out about her experiences of being trolled over her appearance which led her to attempt suicide and quit social media to protect her mental health.
Watch: Jesy Nelson responds to Blackfishing allegations