FOR almost 10 years, Little Mix were Gen Z’s answer to the Spice Girls – championing female friendship over romance and releasing empowering tunes such as Shoutout to my Ex and Salute.
But in December 2020, that all came crashing down when Jesy Nelson announced she was leaving the group.
The girls went on to win The X Factor in 2011Credit: Rex
Earlier this month, Jesy became embroiled in a “blackfishing” row with former bandmate Leigh-Anne Pinnock over her new music video for single Bad Boys.
The Sun has since exclusively revealed that the band have plans to formally announce their split next month.
On top of this, it emerged that Perrie Edwards even tried to leave Little Mix 12 months BEFORE Jesy.
So what happened to our favourite girlband? And was their friendship all for the cameras?
Well according to body language Judi James, the girls’ bond was very real to begin with – but the cracks have been hiding in plain sight for YEARS.
Judi said: “The wonder of Little Mix is less about splits and more about how they managed to stay together as a foursome for as long as they did.
“These four massively ambitious individuals were competing for the same prize on X Factor when the divine intervention of the judges saw them thrown together as a girl band.
“Not only did they have to learn to harmonise their singing they also had to show harmony with each other, because young fans insist on the whole package from bands they adore: female empowerment, sisterly love, mutual support and all those other idealised qualities that make them role models for a generation.
“Teams go through a natural process known as Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing but these four had to leapfrog from the ‘Forming’ to the ‘Performing’ stage with no time in between to sort out any power battles or establish natural friendships or pecking orders.
“Despite that they managed to show many signals of love and support for ten years and its looks clear despite recent spats that at least some of those bonds were genuine.”
Barriers are Up
Judi says there were already signs of tension in 2011Credit: Rex
At first glance, the Little Mix girls appear to be on the top of the world after they were thrown together in the 2011 series of The X Factor.
But Judi says there were already some tensions simmering.
She claimed: “The girls were just coming to terms with the fact that success means sharing and while the sweet smiles and the upbeat bounce were falling into place here, it looks as though not everyone got the memo.
“There’s some mirroring between Jesy, Jade and Perry with those matching perky head-tilts and smiles to camera, but a more thoughtful-looking Leigh-Anne walks behind the other girls with her head down and an unsmiling facial expression.
“Not all the smiles look convincing either. Perrie’s lips are closed and her arm is held in a small barrier gesture.”
In 2015, they showed ‘sisterly bonds’ on stageCredit: Getty
Fast forward four years and the band – who won their series of The X Factor – are going from strength to strength.
Judi said: “This on-stage performance pose shows the girls doing the kind of body language the fans fell for.
“Hug-singing is touching to watch and it makes the fans feel included in the warm vibe.
“The girls epitomise unity and support here with their arms wound round one another’s waists and their eyebrows raised in what look like authentic smiles of sisterly bonding.”
Jesy’s ‘desperation for dominance’
The girls in happier times on the Brits red carpets in 2017Credit: PA
On the 2017 Brits red carpet, Judi said each of the girls are keen to be seen as individuals – but Jesy was making the biggest show of dominance.
The expert said: “This red carpet ‘victory’ pose was one of many for the mega-successful band and all four are scrunched together to show the shared joy.
“Jesy seems to be at the heart of this pose and quite dominant, holding the award and pushing herself slightly out to the front to show it off and she holds one hand round Jade’s neck.
“Did success begin to lead to the confidence to present as individuals though? Perrie stands at one end of the line-up here, arching her back and pouting rather than copying the team vibe of the others.
“Leigh-Anne and Jade seem to be making the most effort to make this a tight-team pose, leaning in towards the other girls and grinning.”
The foursome showcases signs of ‘active avoidance’ in 2017Credit: Getty
By June 2017, it seemed as though each member of the band was striving for their own individuality.
Judi continued: “The pink hair is an eye-catching statement that seems to signal an even more emphatic sense of individuality from Jesy here.
“There are also now signs of an active avoidance of touch as though the girls are growing up and no longer keen to just be seen as part of a ‘peas in a pod’ style team.
“All four pose as individuals here with their arms down by their sides and unsmiling facial expressions.”
Jade was a ‘peacemaker’ on stage in 2018Credit: Apple Music
During a performance in November 2018, it seems as though the girls are drifting apart – but Jade is the glue that holds them together on stage.
Judi said: “It’s Jade and Leigh-Anne doing the on-stage bonding signals here, standing close and entwined together while Perrie sings.
“Jade even stretches one arm out to Perrie here to include her in the kind of hug-singing the girls have always been know for.
“Jesy stands at the other end looking away from the others and with her arms straight down at her sides rather than using any gesture of inclusion.”
Perrie and Jesy compete
Perrie and Jesy competed for attention at the 2019 BritsCredit: Rex Features
Although the Little Mix ladies all adopted the same striking pose on the Brits red carpet in 2019, there were already signs they were heading in different directions.
Judi said: “Here we can see four talented individuals each doing their own body language thing but within the parameters of a girl band unit. Jesy is doing her own pose at one end in a very Hollywood, glamorous look and Perrie seems to be competing for attention beside her with her own leg display version of red-carpet glamour.
“Leigh-Anne and Jade look more closely bonded at the other end and much less keen to compete with the show-stopping poses.
“Leigh-Anne looks unhappy here, while Jade’s proximity to Leigh-Anne and her stretch of one arm towards Perrie suggests she might be the one in the role of group mediator and the one keenest to retain the group-hug, bonded vibe.”
The girls seemed ‘awkward’ at a 2019 Kiss radio eventCredit: Getty
According to Judi, Leigh-Anne’s “awkward” body language speaks volumes and her and Jesy’s relationship back in June 2019.
Judi said: “Proximity should be a given for the girls here as they pose in what looks like the confined space of a lift or corner but their body language together looks rather awkward here.
“Leigh-Anne has the most space as she adopts an eye-catching pose with her hip and her fist pushed towards the others but her face and eyes turned away.
“Each of the girls holds their hands on themselves rather than one another and its really only Jade looking relaxed and truly happy here.”
The girls tried to put on a united front in 2020Credit: Rex
At the 2020 Brits, the Little Mix girls put on a united front just like they had two years earlier – but it was clear Jesy was seeking some independence.
Judi explained: “The matching outfits look like a strong announcement of re-booted visual team unity here, with the girls all dressed in red PVC and bunched together closely on the red carpet.
“It’s another award pose so the smiles are a given although Jesy seems to be adopting what is now her signature look of the Popeye tongue-poke that is a staple of A-list US stars like Miley Cyrus and which usually signals a desire to shock.”
Their body language here showed there were in crisis modeCredit: BBC
The band’s talent show The Search was where the girls made some of their last appearances together – and this tense conversation on the sofa indicated that they were in crisis mode.
Judi said: “This pose looks much more emotion-based as the girls seem lost in a meaningful discussion. Jesy sits out of the cluster here but looking back in towards the other three and the conversation and eye contact exchange seems to be between her and Perrie.
“As usual the other two girls adopt more passive poses, with Jade’s slight slump and lean suggesting she’s there to listen rather than join in the discussion.
“They all look so much more adult and individual here and the body language could be signalling the style of discussions they might have needed to have had back at the start of their journey together.”
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