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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.

10The 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?

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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.

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"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 10Judi 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."

Sisterly Bond 10In 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' 10The 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."

Growing Independence 10The 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."

Peacemaker Jade 10Jade 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 10Perrie 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."

'Awkward' Leigh-Anne 10The 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."

United Front 10The 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."

Isolated Jesy 10Their 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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Tags: little mix on stage their body language leigh anne pinnock they managed the other girls an eye catching were in crisis as individuals competing together here for attention for dominance in what look singing one another jesy nelson look like rather and support a girl band the kind

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Mexicans hope for recovery of monarch butterflies

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Communal farmers and butterfly guides are hoping for a rebound in the number of monarch butterflies — and tourists — at their wintering grounds in central Mexico after a bad year for both last year.

Experts say it is too early to calculate the number of monarchs, which migrate from the U.S. and Canada each year to forests west of Mexico’s capital. A formal survey will be carried out in December.

But the butterflies have come to represent an important source of income for the farmers who own much of the pine and fir forest where the monarchs clump together in trees. Already this year, some of the orange-and-black monarchs have settled into trees for the winter.

After a devastating drop in tourism because of the pandemic last year, and a 26% drop in the number of butterflies, farmer and tourist guide Silvestre de Jesús Cruz, 49, is pinning his hopes on a better year for both this year.

“Last year was a little harder, because there were a lot fewer people. But this year is going to be good,” De Jesús Cruz said. “A lot of the communal farm families depend on this,” said the 21-year veteran of guide work, “not just us guides, but also the people down there in the parking lot selling food. A lot of people.”

In the offseason — the butterflies arrive in November and leave around March — De Jesús Cruz plants corn and oats on his small farm parcel.

But those crops don’t provide much cash. Cash income comes from tourism, and because of the coronavirus pandemic, only about 40,000 people visited the dozen or so butterfly wintering grounds on isolated mountain tops last year, down from 80,000 in previous years.

Already, some tourists are showing up this year.

Martha Echeverría, a resident of Mexico City who loves yoga, found the serenity of the El Rosario reserve to be a main draw. Visitors are encouraged to remain silent so as not to disturb the resting butterflies, and that makes for a scene so quiet you can hear the creaking of the fir bows and the sound of the wind.

“I love the silence it brings up in you,” Echeverría said.

De Jesús Cruz explains that guides are taking extra precautions because of the pandemic, like requiring masks and taking visitors’ temperatures before they are allowed in.

That creates some special challenges, given that tourists must hike up several hundred meters (yards) of steep trails to get to the ultra-protected areas where the butterflies clump, in area already high in altitude.

Ricardo Rodríguez, a tourist from the state of Puebla, managed to get to the top with no problem despite no getting much regular exercise, but said he’d like a little more space to take off his mask from time to time.

“The face mask, well, it is for everyone’s protection, but on parts of the climb you lack air, and so the hike up could be better planned,” Rodríguez said. “They could space us out a little bit more, so that you could take it off for a while and get more oxygen.”

Due to a myriad of factors, monarch number dropped last year. Experts say drought, severe weather and loss of habitat — especially of the milkweed where the monarchs lay their eggs — as well as pesticide and herbicide use, and climate change, all pose threats to the species’ migration.

Illegal logging and loss of tree cover due to disease, drought and storms also continues to plague the reserves.

Gloria Tavera, the regional director for the National Council on Protected Areas, said it is too early to tell is this year will mark an increase in the number of butterflies, or tourists.

“It would be risky to say so. We won’t know until December, once we inspect all the (butterfly) colonies,” said Tavera. As for a return of tourists, she says, “let’s hope so.”

Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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