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It’s been seven years since Jade Thirlwall, Jesy Nelson, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Perrie Edwards became the first-ever group to win The X Factor. Since then they’ve sold 45 million albums, broken records and won countless awards. On the eve of the release of their record LM5, the group chats to ASOS Magazine about their new music, fighting pressures within the industry and awakening their inner activist. Read on for excerpts of their conversation below, and to get your hands on the full interview, grab your copy of the brand-new Party '18 edition of the ASOS Magazine right here.
Little Mix for ASOS Mag | ASOS Style Feed

On the new album

"We’re talking about stuff we’ve wanted to speak about for ages. This is the album we’ve always wanted to make," says Jesy. "Strip (a song on the album) is a turning point. We’ve all suffered from body confidence and bullying and we’ve always written songs that touch on that, like Wings, but we don’t feel we’ve had that one song where we’ve really said it how it is. Over the last year we’ve started to really feel good about ourselves. We just don’t care anymore." "Maybe we’re talking about these things now because society has got worse, with unrealistic preconceptions of what beauty needs to look like," says Leigh-Anne. "It’s not real and it’s time we made a stand."
Jesy Nelson Little Mix | ASOS Style Feed

Jesy on body image in the early years

"When I first started out, I struggled. I never thought I’d get over thinking people thought certain things about me. I still get upset when I talk about it," she says. "I’ll never get those years back. I was so miserable, I should have been enjoying my life. But I was so down because I cared so much about what people thought about me and how I looked. This is why we feel so passionate about what we’re saying on this album. The more we talk about it, the better it will be for kids growing up. We want people to know they’re not alone."
Little Mix in ASOS Magazine available at ASOS | ASOS Style Feed

On fighting pressures in the music industry

‘We weren’t even going to go through to live shows on The X Factor, they didn’t believe a girlband could do it. So, you’re already putting women and girls down. We threw that idea out the window,’ scoffs Leigh-Anne. It’s an attitude they’ve adopted whatever the situation. Jade recalls going to a radio event in America, a few years back, full of VIPs. ‘Someone from our US record label said, “Go and flirt with all those important men.” I was like, “Why have I got to go in and flirt to get my song on the radio?”’ They consider themselves fortunate they had each other as back-up. Things might have been different if they were solo and left to fend for themselves. ‘In the beginning, we were told we shouldn’t be involved in our music videos,’ remembers Jesy. ‘We were told by one massive producer in the US that we shouldn’t be writing, we should just be given songs,’ splutters Jade. More sighs. ‘We realised we – as women – have to work 10 times as hard, which is really annoying cos we do write songs,’ Jesy points out.
Jade Thirlwall ASOS magazine | ASOS Style Feed

Jade on supporting the LGBTQ+ community

"It’s all good saying, 'Oh, I love Kylie Minogue and going to gay bars,' but we need to do things that mean something to our fans. If I’m gonna say I’m an ally, I need to know what I’m talking about," she points out. "It takes allies as well as the LGBT community to make a difference. Coming from a working-class town up north, where it is still very old-fashioned, I realize there’s a long way to go. It’s about educating people and ourselves."
Leigh-Ann Pinnock from Little Mix in ASOS Mag | ASOS Style Feed

Leigh-Anne on being a biracial woman in pop

"During the first couple of years of being in the band, I did feel invisible. I remember crying to my manager regularly, I just couldn’t seem to find my place and didn’t know why. I didn’t feel like I had as many fans as the other girls. It was a strange feeling. I never thought that it was because I was the darkest member of the band. Now I don’t feel alone because I’ve seen lots of women speak out about this. I know there are girls of color out there who have felt the same as me," she explains. "We have a massive problem with racism which is built into our society. It’s scary. But the more people that speak out, the more change we can start to make."
Little Mix for ASOS Mag | ASOS Style Feed

Pictures: James Robjant, Styled by Natalie Michaelides

On relationships

"There’s always drama in this camp, but we’re all really boring at the moment," laughs Perrie. "We’re all really happy," says Leigh-Anne, who openly admits she’s nearly ready to marry [athlete] Andre [Gray]. "I predict it’s going to be the end of next year," confides Jesy. "We’ve all put up with s**t in the past or gone back to someone," Jade admits of past relationships. "As we’ve got older, we’ve got a level of self-respect — we won’t put up with anything that we don’t deserve." "Knowing your worth is so important. I think that’s genuinely the only way you’ll both be happy in a relationship," says Leigh-Anne.


The Party '18 issue of ASOS Magazine is out now — get your copy here.