X Factor winner says her age helped her cop with fame as she praises Jesy Nelson

X Factor winner Sam Bailey believes that being older helped her to cope with fame as she praised Jesy Nelson for making the ‘brave’ decision to leave Little Mix.

Yesterday, in an emotional post, Jesy confirmed to her followers that she would be leaving the band to ‘focus on her mental health’.

Sam, who won The X Factor seven years ago today, has thrown her support behind the singer as she shared her own experience of online trolling.

The mum-of-three, who knows how difficult it is being in the public eye told Metro.co.uk: ‘I have got a lot of respect for Jesy because it is tough when you’re in the public eye and it is tough on your mental health.

‘I have to say that she’s made a good move to sort of distance herself from it all because your mental health is so much more important than anything else and I just hope people respect that.

‘You are targeted sometimes and obviously, she was targeted because of her weight earlier on and during her career, but I think she’s a standout in Little Mix.’

Opening up about her own experience of online abuse, Sam said being older helped her to handle being in the spotlight.

‘I had people say stuff about my teeth when I first won (The X Factor),’ she continued.

‘But they don’t know the inside story, they don’t know I had my face booted in playing football when I was 14 and I lost my front tooth and so for me, I was like “You don’t know me”.

‘But I think my age played a massive part in how I’m ok, as she (Jesy) was in Little Mix from such a young age, and that’s all she knows.’

‘I never went on to The X Factor to be famous. My priorities were completely different, they wanted the fame whereas I just wanted to be able to provide for my family and have a nice house,’ she added.

Following Jesy’s announcement, Jade Thirlwall, Perrie Edwards and Leigh-Anne Pinnock revealed they would continue as a trio.

Sam went on to add that, despite Jesy leaving the group, she hopes that one day she is buying tickets to her solo concerts.

‘I took my daughter to see Little Mix and I thought she was incredible, so I think she’s got a long career ahead of her,’ Sam said.

‘I hope she goes solo because I’ll be buying tickets for her concert, 100%.

‘I think she could do great on our own as well, as a solo artist, so I think she’s got a long career ahead of her.’

The news comes a month after it was announced Jesy was taking ‘extended time off’ from the band.

In an Instagram post, Jesy thanked her fans for the past nine years, before she confirmed she was leaving Little Mix.

‘To all my Mixers, The past nine years in Little Mix has been the most incredible time of my life,’ she penned.

‘We have achieved things I never thought possible. From winning our first Brit Award to our sold out shows at the 02. Making friends and fans all over the world, I can’t thank you all enough from the bottom of my heart for making me feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

‘You have always been there to support and encourage me and I will never ever forget it.’

‘The truth is recently being in the band has really token a toll on my mental health. I find the constant pressure of being in a girl group and living up to expectations very hard,’ she continued.

‘There comes a time in life when we need to reinvest in taking care of ourselves rather than focussing on making other people happy, and I feel like now is the time to begin that process.’

‘So after much consideration and with a heavy heart, I’m announcing I’m leaving Little Mix,’ she announced.

‘I need to spend some time with the people I love, doing things that make me happy. I’m ready to embark on a new chapter in my life – I’m not sure what its going to look like right now, but I hope you’ll still be there to support me.

‘I want to say thank you to everyone involved in our journey. All the hard work and dedication that went into making us a success.’

‘To every single fan who came to see us in concert, who listened to our songs and sung their hearts out, sent me messages and supported me along the way I want you to know I love you all so much and I could never have done this without you and I appreciate it endlessly.’

‘Most of all I want to say thank you to Jade, Perrie and Leigh-Anne for creating some of the most amazing memories I’ll never forget.

‘I hope that you’ll continue to fulfil all of your dreams and keep on making music that people love. Love Jesy x.’

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