The 52-year-old singer also opens up about her 1-year-old son, Eissa.
Janet Jackson has had a lifelong struggle with loving herself.
The 52-year-old iconic singer covers InStyle’s October Beauty issue, and gets candid about how she was able to embrace her body.
"Therapy helped a great deal with that. I had to find something in my body that I loved, and that was difficult for me to do,” she admits to the magazine. "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.”
Over time, Jackson slowly started appreciating parts of herself she hadn’t before.
"I wound up falling in love with the small of my back,” she recalls. "And then from there I found more things. And then finally realizing my smile isn’t that bad after all. I thought I looked like the Joker because it was so big.”
Confessing she used to be insecure about her body, Jackson says that now she’s getting to a better place. “A lot of that has to do with experience, getting older," she notes. "Understanding, realizing that there isn’t just one thing that is considered beautiful. Beautiful comes in all shapes, sizes, colors.”
The singer adds that 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,” she explains. "I went to therapy, which was all about finding that thing you like about yourself. The realization that, you know what, you’re not so bad after all. I’m not saying you’re great or you’re the best, but it’s not as bad as you were made to feel that it was."
These days it’s her 1-year-old son, Eissa, who makes her feel the most beautiful. Jackson gave birth to her first child at age 50.
"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 the gift that God has given me and that he allowed me to do so at that age,” she explains. "My baby is so sweet and so healthy, so happy and so full of love.”
The proud mom has many hopes for her son, some of which she laid out in the magazine.
"The foundation of being grounded and also of a higher power,” she says. "Knowing who he is and that we are all equal no matter the race or gender. And that he has to be respectful towards others but also that others are respectful to him.”
Jackson notes that any day off “involves my baby.”
"I would take him to the museum, take him to the park, or we might have some Jackson family playtime with his cousins,” she shares.
When she was pregnant with Eissa, she focused on her fitness routine to help stay healthy.
“When I was in New York, I was walking and doing stairs every day. The doctor said as long as you’re not feeling any pain or having any problems and it’s not too much for you, more power to you,” she says. “It’s great exercise, releases those endorphins.”
It’s been a difficult time for Jackson, who lost her father, Joe Jackson, earlier this year.
"It’s very tough. But it was also difficult coming back because I was very much behind [with] rehearsals,” she explains of rehearsing for tour after the death of her dad. "I didn’t know if I wanted to cancel the tour. But I think my father would’ve wanted me to continue.”
Jackson says she “for sure” had some time with her father before his passing.
"He is in a better place. I’ve said this before, but you’ll never forget [the pain],” she says. "The hurt is always there, but you learn how to move forward.”
For more from the Jackson family, watch the clip below: