Janet Jackson Inspired Me

Yes, my hope is this post floats straight onto someone in Ms. Jackson’s team! Please!

I didn’t write this post for Janet Jackson to see it. If she does see it, it will make my LIFE! So, yes…spread the word for me people. Haha. I’m joking. Not really. The real reason for this post is to give Janet her flowers while she is still here! I tell people all the time how JJ inspired me but I never really go into a lot of detail. We will do that in this post.

I truly believe Janet doesn’t get half of the praise she deserves for inspiring young black girls of the 1980s. Beyonce gets her flowers all the time from kids who grew up on her in the 2000s. Well, before Beyonce there was Janet. I’m not comparing their musical talents here. I am talking about their impact on young black girls. You could see the inspiration of Janet in Aaliyah and Ciara. Though Britney wasn’t black you could not deny she was inspired by Janet as well.

I feel like Janet still gets lost in the impact that her brother had on the music industry. She contributed a lot too. She didn’t have the global impact he had, but for some of us girls in the US growing up in the late 1980s she was a big deal. She was a big deal to me specifically because of the way she dressed. In the late 1980s, Janet wore a lot of monochromatic black with her single key earring. She mostly wore pants and sometimes even a baseball cap. I fell in love with her instantly. See, you have to understand the thought process of little Lisa.

Little Lisa didn’t really love wearing dresses. I didn’t hate them, but I preferred shorts or pants. I wasn’t fussy about my hair or my nails. I grew up listening to a lot of Motown from my dad’s records. I noticed a common theme. The women were beautiful but so fancy on the album covers. They had the perfectly coifed hair, nails, beautiful gowns and shoes. I wasn’t interested in any of that. I loved the singing but not the style of most of the women. The women seemed so much more cookie cutter back then.

Well, then came Janet. I wouldn’t say she was the first to switch up her style. I will say she was one of the first of her kind as a black female entertainer to drop the fancy clothes and just be comfortable in her jeans. This really stood out to me as a young girl. I never did relate to women who wore all the ‘fancy’ clothes. I realize I was just a little girl at the time, but none of this has changed. I enjoy fashion but I appreciate more when people are just being themselves. You wear the clothes they aren’t supposed to wear you. You make the outfit!

Janet made her outfits! Her smile made the outfits even when she was just in a T-shirt and jeans. That’s what I remember. I remember thinking she was so beautiful. She had the best smile, teeth, and skin. She made me proud to be a black girl. I mostly paid attention to white female artists until Janet. I knew I could never look like any of them. It made me sad sometimes because I knew I could never have the long, luscious locks they had or the same slim body.

Janet showed me that you could still have a nice figure without being extremely slim. You could have a booty and it was OK. It was a huge boost to my self-esteem to see her featured in the magazines and in TV interviews. A black woman who reminded me of myself. She seemed so cool even with her shyness.

Janet’s music was great but her persona is what drew me in as a fan. I knew for sure we were meant to be like sisters (in my head) when she released her self-titled album Janet on May 18, 1993. This is also what we have in common: we are both Tauruses. Her mother and brother, Jackie, were born on May 4. My twin brother and I were also born on May 4. Janet was born on May 16. Yep…May is a special month. (FYI: Latoya Jackson’s birthday is May 29 so she is a Gemini).

The video that really did it for me was “Alright” released in July 1990. It is still in my Top 5 favorite Janet Jackson videos/songs. I am attaching the video below for you to watch if you haven’t seen it before or if it’s been a long time. The way Janet dressed, danced, and sung in that video meant EVERYTHING to me. Once I watched that video for the first time it solidified everything for me. Janet was my favorite artist! She was always going to have a place in my heart. This is what I felt and knew to be true.

There is a dance scene between Janet and famous actress/dancer Cyd Charisse (the woman in the red dress). Notice the contrast in the way they are dressed but both are doing the same dance. Cyd was the glamour woman of the past. She is what I mostly saw growing up when it came to women entertainers (as far as style). Then look at Janet in her pinstripe Zoot suit with the hat. She helped usher in a new school for young female entertainers. You could be Cyd or you could be Janet. I loved the idea a girl or woman could be either or both depending on the situation. This was mind blowing for little Lisa. A woman could have options! A woman could have layers! Little Lisa was giddy when she learned this valuable lesson.

I want to make an important note here: Black women were heavily sexualized (not that other women weren’t). Yet, black women didn’t have as many opportunities at that time to show other sides of themselves that wasn’t for the male gaze. When Janet first came out she didn’t dress for the male gaze. She was always covered up but still looked cute.This is why Janet was a big deal! You would have to understand this from the perspective of history.

My funny Janet story: I remember being around 8 and my paternal grandmother babysitting me. I was painfully shy at that age. I didn’t speak unless spoken to and tried to mind my manners with my grandmother. I don’t remember the video or song, but at some point we were watching TV in the dining room. A Janet Jackson video came on and I immediately jumped up and started dancing. I knew all the choreography. My grandmother thought it was the funniest thing ever. My grandmother was a stern woman and didn’t smile often. Yet, she laughed that day. She just could not get over me dancing to Janet. She only knew shy/quiet Lisa. She talked about it the rest of the day.

One day I was home and my favorite JJ video came on TV. I got too scared to jump off the chair like in the video “Pleasure Principle”. I learned the rest of the choreography though. I was so proud of myself that day.

Thank you, Janet! Have a Happy Birthday this month fellow Taurus! You are STILL an inspiration to me. You taught me “The Pleasure Principle”, “Rhythm Nation” and how to get respect by being called “Ms. Jackson if you Nasty”. Haha. I could go on and on about how much Janet and her music has meant to me through the decades. She has had songs about domestic violence, racism, homophobia, loss of a loved one, how to wait until you are ready for sex, and also to have lots of fun when you are ready to have sex. She has a little bit of everything in her music. She just keeps it real!

I was able to attend two Janet Jackson concerts. The first one was was a few months after I turned 21. It was the All For You Tour. She was AMAZING! I cried because I was just so happy. I couldn’t believe I was in the same place as Janet Jackson – the woman I had admired since I was six. My parents were even excited for me. They knew what it meant for me to get to see her. I went to the concert with my twin brother and we had a blast! I can’t really fully describe that feeling to a person unless they have a celebrity they grew up on as a young child. The next time I saw her was the State of the World Tour in December 2017.

I think I would just pass out if I ever got to meet her. I’m convinced of it. Honestly, I don’t think I would pass out. I just wouldn’t be able to talk. I would be fumbling over my words. I would be a mess. She is the only celebrity alive that would make me do that.

My Favorite songs by Janet in no particular order:

  • Control
  • Alright
  • Come Back To Me
  • If
  • Velvet Rope
  • You
  • Empty
  • Got til It’s Gone
  • Rope Burn
  • I Get Lonely
  • Trust A Try
  • That’s The Way Love Goes
  • Throb
  • Funky Big Band
  • When We Oooo
  • China Love
  • Again
  • Because of Love
  • Where Are You Now
  • Someday Is Tonight
  • This Time
  • What Have You Done For Me Lately
  • The Pleasure Principle
  • Let’s Wait Awhile
  • When I Think of You
  • Funny How Time Flies (When Your Having Fun)
  • Rhythm Nation
  • Love Will Never Do (Without You)
  • Together Again
  • What About
  • Any Time, Any Place
  • Damito Jo
  • Island Life
  • LUV
  • No Sleeep
  • Night

15 JJ songs picked for a ‘Fun Times’ playlist in no particular order.

Until next time…

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