Janet Jackson once thought her big smile 'looked like the Joker'

The singer got real about her insecurities with InStyle.
Janet Jackson's October InStyle cover
Jacket Jackson talks confidence and body image in the October issue of InStyle.InStyle
/ Source: TODAY

Janet Jackson might exude confidence on stage, but feeling good in her skin hasn't always come so easily. In fact, the 52-year-old says she didn't truly feel sexy until she was well into her 30s.

"I got out of a funky relationship and finally got back to me. I went to therapy, which was all about finding that thing you like about yourself," the singer told InStyle in an interview for their October issue.

Discovering parts of her body that she loved was a process for the cover girl, though.

"At first, I couldn’t find anything. I would look in the mirror and start crying. I didn’t like that I was not attractive. I didn’t like anything about me. But I wound up falling in love with the small of my back. And then from there I found more things," Jackson said.

The hit singer even learned to love her smile, a trait she had once hated. "I thought I looked like the Joker because it was so big," she said.

As she's gotten older, Jackson has come to embrace her body rather than focus on her insecurities. "A lot of it has to do with experience, getting older. Understanding, realizing that there isn’t just one thing that is considered beautiful. Beautiful comes in all shapes, sizes and colors," she said.

Being a new mom to one-year-old son, Eissa, has also made Jackson reevaluate her definition of beauty.

"I feel like I’m being corny here, but it’s just the honest truth: I feel most beautiful when I’m with my son, because of the gift that God has given me and that he allowed me to do so at that age. My baby is so sweet and so healthy, so happy and so full of love,'" she said.

After several decades in the music industry, Jackson is no stranger to the body image pressures that many young artists face, and she was quick to offer up her wisdom on this subject.

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"It’s tough. They have to know who they have to be and who they are. Not what someone else wants them to be, not what they think they should be by looking at someone else. Individuality is beautiful. God made you as you are, and that’s beautiful. You are unique, special. You don’t want to look like someone else or be that other person," she said.

That individuality is at the very core of what Jackson believes makes a woman beautiful: "(It's) lots of different things. It’s vulnerability. It’s power. It’s confidence. It’s happiness. It’s seeing the goodness in the soul. It’s spirituality. It’s being selfless and what you do for others before doing for yourself."