ESSENCE Icon: Janet Jackson

ESSENCE.COM Aug, 17, 2011

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Janet Jackson was born into a royal musical family, the youngest of nine children born to Joe and Katherine Jackson in Gary, Indiana.

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Janet takes the stage in 1974 with her favorites: her doll, her stage sequins and her curly up ’do.

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Was this the beginning of Janet’s love affair with wide-leg pants? Here in 1977, 11-year-old Janet stands tall with her siblings.

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Showing her charm at an early age, Janet was a fan of the shiny sequins, single pony Afro puff and slicked down baby hair.

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At 12 years old, the budding actress pulled at our heartstrings as Penny, an abused child in the 70’s sitcom “Good Times.” She cemented the role by looking like any other girl in your hood.

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As a teen in her second major television role, Janet played sweet Charlene, Willis’s (Todd Bridges) steady girlfriend on “Diff’rent Strokes.”

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Following in her brothers’ footsteps, Janet proved herself to be a phenomenal dancer. Here she works it out with choreographer Paula Abdul.

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Janet graced the first of many ESSENCE covers.

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In the eighties, the bigger the better. Big hair, big shoulders, big hits! Jackson claimed all of the above with the release of her 1986 album “Control.” We all clamored for her bigger-than-life hair.

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Janet celebrated her independence on the album, “Control.”

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Janet solidified her icon status when she debuted her legendary video, “Pleasure Principal” in 1987.

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To get into her “Poetic Justice” role alongside Tupac, we saw Jackson get into character with long braid extensions. She topped off the nineties look with bright red lips.

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The hairstyle mimicked all over the world. Janet’s sported dookie braids for her role in “Poetic Justice” and later kept the look for the 35th Annual Grammy Awards where she shared the stage and a kiss with Michael.

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For “Rhythm Nation,” Janet’s military-inspired look was as tight as her dance moves. She started her own movement with the hoop earrings with the solo key.

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Thought she was already an icon in our mind, Janet received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1990.

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The songstress showed off her softer side on her follow-up to “Rhythm Nation” with “janet.”

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On the cover of her 6th studio album in 1997, “The Velvet Rope,” Jackson unleashed a head full of cinnamon spiral curls that were as liberating as the sexually charged lyrics on the album.

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Next Jackson played Denise Gaines, the fiancée of Eddie Murphy’s Professor Sherman Klump in the comedic hit, “The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps.”

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In 2001 Jackson bares it “all for you” but keeps her signature makeup look in tact.

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Janet’s wardrobe malfunction at the 2004 Superbowl made headlines all over the world. She called it one of the saddest times of her life.

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Janet joins Beyonce and Mary on our cover. “I did things to try to make it better for those coming up behind me so it wouldn’t be as difficult,” she told ESSENCE.

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As a show of solidarity, the Jackson family wore white in support of Michael during his trail.

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Janet’s relationship with Jermaine Dupri lasted for more than five years. Jackson says Dupri changed her life, especially her body image and her issues with her booty.

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In the Tyler Perry film “Why Did I Get Married?”, the actress went back to her theater roots to play the on-the-go doctor and author Dr. Patricia Agnew.

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For her tenth studio album “Discipline,” in 2008, Janet channeled her musical dominatrix.

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Jackson and her family at her late brother Michael’s tribute ceremony in 2009.

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A grief-stricken Janet was the epitome of grace an poise during an appearance at the 2009 BET Awards shortly after her brother’s funeral.

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At brother Michael’s funeral service, Janet’s hair parted in the center and black suit are both understated and sophisticated.

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At the 2009 MTV Video Awards she performs “Scream” in the tribute to her brother Michael.

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In 2010, Janet debuted a short look that had everybody talking, and mimicking.

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Janet recently debuted her first book, “True You: A Guide To Finding And Loving Yourself” in 2010.

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We tip our hat off to Ms. Jackson for inspiring generations.

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Just this week, Jackson wowed during Milan Fashion Week when she arrived at the amfAR benefit in this stunning liquid blue gown that showed off her enviable curvy figure.

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Jackson usually keeps her makeup simple: black eyeliner and lashes to accent her doe-shaped eyes and a nude lipstick palette to frame her famous smile. Note Jackson’s go-to move: layering a crisp white shirt underneath a jacket or cardigan.

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Also during Milan Fashion Week, Jackson shows us how to keep it simple and smart in neutrals. At the Giorgio Armani show it was all about a balancing act: wide-leg pants skim her hips while the fitted cardigan nips her waistline.

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During New York Fashion Week earlier this month, Jackson once again showed us how conservative can be sexy with a pencil skirt, black pumps and belted cardigan. She’s at the Ralph Lauren show, but this ensemble can easily go to work.

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Jackson shows that you can cover up and still be sexy. A peek of her shoulders is just enough skin to bare in this form-fitting black dress.

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During New York Fashion Week earlier this month, Jackson once again showed us how conservative can be sexy with a pencil skirt and belted cardigan. She’s at the Ralph Lauren show, but this ensemble can easily go to work.

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