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Janet Jackson Reflects on Super Bowl Incident, Says It's Still 'Tough' to Talk About

"Things have changed obviously since then for the better."

Janet Jackson has a tell-all documentary dropping on A&E later this month and while we’ll have to wait a little longer for a deep dive into the fallout her 2004 Super Bowl halftime performance with Justin Timberlake caused, she briefly touched on it in a new interview with Allure.

The 55-year-old icon graces the cover of the publication’s latest issue, opening up about the shift in beauty standards in the industry, becoming comfortable with her own sexuality and how the public has started to see how both racism and sexism played a role in the volatile reaction to her in particular following the halftime performance.

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The Super Bowl came up as Jackson spoke about how she embraced a sexier side of herself with the release of her 1993 album “Janet,” a press tour which included the now-infamous Rolling Stone cover where only a pair of hands covered her bare breasts.

She told the publication that era was about “embracing me and trying to learn to love me for me, my body, all of that … trying to feel comfortable in embracing that. Throwing myself in the lion’s den. Just going for it, wanting to do something different.”

She added that “it took a lot of work” for her to be comfortable with, adding that “it was something very tough, very difficult” — but a door she’s “glad I walked through” in hindsight. “I’m really glad I got in. It was a way of accepting and loving, accepting yourself and your body,” she added.

After being asked by reporter Robin Givhan how she got through the backlash that ensued when that same nude body was exposed on national television in 2004, Jackson shared, “What’s really important is going back to having that foundation. Not just family, but God. That’s what really pulled me through.” She added, “It’s tough for me to talk about that time.”

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Jackson was also asked how it feels to be part of the ongoing conversation around racism and sexism, as the incident and the fallout have been given a recent reappraisal — much like the rampant media sexism that followed Britney Spears throughout her career.

“Whether I want to be part of that conversation or not, I am part of that conversation,” said Jackson. “I think it’s important. Not just for me, but for women. So I think it’s important that conversation has been had. You know what I mean? And things have changed obviously since then for the better.”

Fans have always been upset with Timberlake following the performance, in which he exposed her breast. There have been many different accounts regarding what truly went down, but Justin’s career suffered no slowdown whatsoever and was even invited back to perform, while many believe the fallout derailed Janet’s career.

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He would publicly apologize in 2021 after The New York Times documentary “Framing Britney Spears” revived not only public interest in her conservatorship battle, but criticism of Justin’s actions involving both his ex-girlfriend and Janet.

“I specifically want to apologize to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson both individually, because I care for and respect these women and I know I failed,” he wrote at the time. “The industry is flawed. It sets men, especially white men, up for success. It’s designed this way. As a man in a privileged position I have to be vocal about this. Because of my ignorance, I didn’t recognize it for all that it was while it was happening in my own life but I do not want to ever benefit from others being pulled down again.”

He added, “I have not been perfect in navigating all of this throughout my career. I know this apology is a first step and doesn’t absolve the past. I want to take accountability for my own missteps in all of this as well as be part of a world that uplifts and supports. I care deeply about the wellbeing of the people I love and have loved. I can do better and I will do better.”

Jackson will address the incident in more detail when her doc, simply titled “JANET,” debuts Friday, January 28 on Lifetime and A&E. Watch a trailer below.

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