Paris Jackson Unmasked: Life Without Her Father, Michael

The lives of Michael Jackson’s children have long been shrouded in mystery, due in part to the masks and veils he made them wear in public when they were kids. But since his passing, the masks have come off and Michael Jackson’s daughter Paris has taken to the limelight. After a heavily isolated childhood and through struggles with substance abuse—including multiple suicide attempts—you’ll soon learn that life without her father wasn’t easy for Paris Jackson, who shocked everyone when she defended her father for the first time publicly.

Michael Jackson’s Special Arrangement That Bore Paris

Michael Jackson’s Special Arrangement That Bore Paris

Splash News via The Sun

The one and only daughter of the King of Pop was born Paris-Michael Katherine Jackson on April 3, 1998 to Debbie Rowe. Michael Jackson met Rowe when she was working as a nurse for the dermatologist who treated Jackson’s vitiligo. Jackson and Rowe formed a friendship and allegedly grew close over their respective failing marriages. Jackson expressed a desire to have kids, but his then-marriage to Lisa Marie Presley prevented him from doing so, and Rowe offered to have Jackson’s babies for him. Following Jackson’s divorce from Presley, Rowe first gave birth to Michael Joseph Jackson Jr. and then Paris.

Paris Jackson Spent Her Childhood Without A Mother

Paris Jackson Spent Her Childhood Without A Mother

Malnik Family via Today Show

Briefly married for three years, Rowe gave Jackson full custody of their two children upon their divorce, since their arrangement was more or less friendship-based and they had agreed that they would primarily be Jackson’s kids. Paris says that she wasn’t aware that she had a biological mother until she was around ten years old when she finally asked her dad whether she had a mother. “And I was like, ‘What’s her name?'” she recounted to Rolling Stone. “And he’s just like, ‘Debbie.’ And I was like, ‘OK, well, I know the name.” Paris didn’t meet Debbie Rowe until she was 13 years old.

Paris Remembers Having To Wear The Masks

Paris Remembers Having To Wear The Masks

Sadek Hamaiel/Getty Images

Michael Jackson took great measures to protect his children as they were growing up. Whenever they were seen in public with him, he always made them wear masks, which Paris says she didn’t understand at the time. Paris told Oprah in 2012, “I was really confused, like, I didn’t get why I was wearing a mask, but I understand it now.” She went on to explain that she and her siblings were only required to wear the masks when they were out with their father to protect their identity. When they weren’t with their father in public, they didn’t wear masks but no one knew that they were Michael Jackson’s children. It wasn’t long before the masks came off, when Paris first spoke publicly and had the world in tears.

Paris And Her Siblings Had A Conventional Childhood

Paris And Her Siblings Had A Conventional Childhood

via Pinterest

She and her siblings declined their father’s offers to go to regular school, having been homeschooled much of their life. One might think that staying home at Neverland Ranch was a treat, but Paris assured that there was structure in their upbringing. “We actually had a pretty normal life,” Paris says Rolling Stone. “[We] had school every single day, and we had to be good. And if we were good, every other weekend or so, we could choose whether we were gonna go to the movie theater or see the animals or whatever. But if you were on bad behavior, then you wouldn’t get to do all those things.”

It Took A While Before Paris Realized Her Father Was Famous

It Took A While Before Paris Realized Her Father Was Famous

Splash News via Us Weekly

Growing up secluded and being homeschooled might have caused Paris and her siblings not to think much beyond the confines of Neverland Ranch. Paris even says that she was completely oblivious to her father’s fame for much of her childhood. Not even aware that her father’s name was Michael, Paris tells Rolling Stone, “I just thought his name was Dad, Daddy… We didn’t really know who he was. But he was our world. And we were his world.” She also previously told Oprah, “When I was about nine or ten, I realized ‘Wow, he’s really big.'”

11-Year-Old Paris Publicly Defends Her Father For The First Time

11-Year-Old Paris Publicly Defends Her Father For The First Time

GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images

Paris Jackson lost her loving father on June 25, 2009, in a tragic death that shocked the whole world. During the public memorial service, Paris unexpectedly approached the podium and it was the first time that the world not only saw her face, but also heard her speak. “I just wanted to say, ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine,” she said through tears. “And I just wanted to say I love him so much.” At that moment, the world realized how impactful Michael Jackson’s death was on his children, but their ensuing life without their father was a speculation among many. The devastation she felt from the loss of her father would eventually lead her down a dark path.

When The Masks Came Off, Paris Got A Taste Of The ‘Real World’

When The Masks Came Off, Paris Got A Taste Of The ‘Real World’

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Full custody of Paris and her brothers was granted to their grandmother and Michael’s mother, Katherine Jackson, who upon having them under her roof told her grandchildren, “Today we’re unmasking you. Today the masks come off.” But the transition certainly wasn’t easy for Paris, who was only 11 years old when her father died. She tells Harper’s Bazaar, “Once I got introduced into the real world, I was shocked. It blew me away… Not just because it was sexist, but misogynist and racist and cruel. It was scary as hell. And it is still really scary.”

She Did Not Know How To Socialize

She Did Not Know How To Socialize

Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic via Getty Images

Much of Paris’ childhood wasn’t spent socializing with other children her age. Growing up under the protectiveness of Michael Jackson, Paris and her siblings were very much isolated growing up on Neverland Ranch. “The first 12 years of my life I was homeschooled, which means that the only interactions I’d ever had were with family members or other adults,” Paris explained to Harper’s Bazaar, noting that as kids, they were encouraged to act like adults around adults and that they weren’t spoken to as if they were children. She also said that she “didn’t have any social skills. I had to force myself to learn so fast.”

Paris Was A Target For Bullies When She Went To A Real School

Paris Was A Target For Bullies When She Went To A Real School

Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic via Getty Images

Upon moving in with their grandmother, Paris was enrolled at the Buckley School, a private school in the Los Angeles area, and it wasn’t long before she realized what her father had been trying to protect her from all those years. Paris almost immediately became a victim of bullying both at school and on social media. When Oprah asked her if she’s been bullied, Paris said, “People have tried but it doesn’t always work… some people try to cyber-bully me, they try to get to me with words but that doesn’t really work.” She went on to tell Oprah that a lot of people in her school didn’t like her, but wasn’t exactly sure why. The bullying became so persistent, that Paris was compelled to take drastic measures.

She Could Sense That Her Peers Did Not Like Her

She Could Sense That Her Peers Did Not Like Her

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Upon being thrust into a setting among peers her own age, Paris quickly had to grow a thick skin because being the daughter of one of the most famous men in the world, she had to be wary of those who didn’t seem genuine when she started attending school. “If I feel someone’s being fake to me, I would just like, push away. [Because] there are kids at my school that talk so bad behind my back and they don’t think that I can hear them,” Paris tells Oprah with a laugh. “A lot of times I can hear them, a lot of times my friends tell me what they say, and I’m like, ‘Okay, cool.'”

Paris Became Involved With The Wrong Crowd

Paris Became Involved With The Wrong Crowd

Valerie Macon/Getty Images

Paris’ inability to make friends with her peers in school caused her to seek out those who would accept her, including “a lot of older people doing a lot of crazy things,” she tells Rolling Stone. “I was doing a lot of things that 13-, 14-, 15-year-olds shouldn’t do. I tried to grow up too fast, and I wasn’t really that nice of a person.” As she struggled to cope with the loss of her father and adjusting to her new environment, Paris’ life quickly spiraled into one of substance abuse and self-harm. Around this age, she also tells Rolling Stone that she was sexually assaulted by a “complete stranger.”

The Media Reports Paris’ Hospitalization After Suicide Attempt

The Media Reports Paris’ Hospitalization After Suicide Attempt

Splash News via New York Daily News

Paris Jackson’s name surfaced on media headlines prominently in June 2013 with reports that she was hospitalized after a suicide attempt. She was 15-years-old when she slashed her wrist and took 20 Motrin pills, she tells Rolling Stone. “It was just self-hatred, low self-esteem, and thinking that I couldn’t do anything right, not thinking I was worthy of living anymore… It was just once that it became public,” she clarified, adding that she has attempted to take her life “multiple times.” At that point, she was admitted to a residential therapy school in Utah for part of her high school career.

Wait until you see what Paris is up to these days since her recovery!

Rehab Changed Her Life And Brought Her Closer To Her Birth Mom

Rehab Changed Her Life And Brought Her Closer To Her Birth Mom

via E! Online

Of her time in Utah, Paris tells Rolling Stone, “It was great for me. I’m a completely different person… I was crazy. I was actually crazy. I was going through a lot of, like, teen angst. And I was also dealing with my depression and my anxiety without any help.” During that time, Paris also grew closer to her biological mother, Debbie Rowe. “‘Paris has a lot of troubles, but she has forged a real mother-daughter relationship and friendship’ with Rowe,” Us Weekly reported at the time. A source told the publication that Rowe taught Paris how to ride horses and also took her out to eat and go shopping.

Paris Jackson Had Over 50 Tattoos Before Age 20

Paris Jackson Had Over 50 Tattoos Before Age 20

Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images via Getty Images

By 19 years old, Paris had over 50 tattoos on her body, many of which cover scars and track marks from her prior self-harm and substance abuse. She isn’t shy about sharing her ink (and sometimes bare body) with the world via social media, which she, of course, faces criticism for. Nine of her tattoos are dedicated to her late father, including the cover art from Dangerous on her forearm and “QUEEN OF MY HEART” in her father’s handwriting on her wrist. In addition to the chakras the recently had inked down her chest, Paris has tattoos dedicated to John Lennon, David Bowie, Van Halen, and Prince.

Paris Says That Her Number One Passion Is Acting

Paris Says That Her Number One Passion Is Acting

via paralightfilms.com

Around the time that Paris had first entered regular schooling, she was already slated to star in Lundon’s Bridge and the Three Keys, based on a book of the same name. Paris’ foray into acting was vehemently protested by the Jackson family. However, Paris said that acting is her passion. “I love acting,” she said on The Ellen DeGeneres Show at the time, saying that she had wanted to act ever since she was little. “My dad was in the movie Moonwalker and I knew he could sing, like really well, but I didn’t know he could act and I saw that and I’m like, ‘Wow! I want to be just like him.'” However, Paris’ subsequent suicide attempt and multiple production issues have put filming on hold indefinitely. Her acting career may be off to a slow start, but read on to see where else her star is shining!

Paris Wants To Heal The World Like Her Father

Paris Wants To Heal The World Like Her Father

Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images

Although the project never took off, Paris was closely tied to the root of what Lundon’s Bridge and the Three Keys was about: saving the planet. While the plot of the story itself was about fighting pollution, half of the film’s proceeds were meant to benefit public schools. Paris was inspired by this cause because of her father. She told Ellen, “Lundon’s Bridge is about trying to stop pollution and I know my dad always wanted to heal the world, and I think it would be great to follow in his footsteps and try [to] just help the world.”

She Was Named The Ambassador Of Her Godmother’s Legacy

She Was Named The Ambassador Of Her Godmother’s Legacy

Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Global Citizen

Despite not being able to help the world with her movie, Paris Jackson has always been a vocal activist for various causes, which is why in September 2017 she was named the Ambassador for the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation and fittingly so since Elizabeth Taylor is her godmother. Jackson told Billboard, “I’ve always wanted to be involved with activism, but I didn’t realize it could be at such a large scale that it is now. I didn’t really want to be in the spotlight as much when I was younger… then I realized ‘you know, I was given a platform, I might as well do something with it. Why not use the fame for the activism?'”

Paris Jackson Is Taking The Fashion World By Storm

Paris Jackson Is Taking The Fashion World By Storm

Marc Piasecki/GC Images via Getty Images

Although Paris’ first starring role was put on hold, she recently made her acting debut in March 2017 in Fox’s Star. However, it’s Paris’ budding modeling career that has really taken off. At that time, she signed with IMG Models after having made a splash in the fashion world and starring in a major campaign with Chanel in January of that year. Paris told Rolling Stone that modeling for her is therapeutic, saying, “I’ve had self-esteem issues for a really, really long time… Plenty of people think I’m ugly, and plenty of people don’t. But there’s a moment when I’m modeling where I forget about my self-esteem issues and focus on what the photographer’s telling me – and I feel pretty. And in that sense, it’s selfish.”

What Paris Has To Say About Claims That MJ Is Not Her Real Father

What Paris Has To Say About Claims That MJ Is Not Her Real Father

Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images via Getty Images

Many have long been questioning the legitimacy of Paris’ and her sibling’s parentage, saying that Michael Jackson isn’t really their biological father because of how different they look. Paris and her siblings fervently maintain that Michael Jackson is their father, incredulous that it was ever questioned at all. Paris told Rolling Stone, “He is my father. He will always be my father. He never wasn’t, and he never will not be. People that knew him really well say they see him in me, that it’s almost scary.” Her brother Prince shares the same sentiment saying, “Every time someone asks me that I ask, …’What difference does it make?’ …How does it affect your life? It doesn’t change mine.”

Paris Jackson Claims Her Father Was Murdered

Paris Jackson Claims Her Father Was Murdered

Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic via Getty Images

In her Rolling Stone interview, Paris also revealed what she thinks really happened in regards to her father’s death. She said, “He would drop hints about people being out to get him and at some point he was like, ‘They’re gonna kill me one day.'” She went on to say that her dad was somehow murdered. “[It’s] obvious,” she told Rolling Stone, “All arrows point to that. It sounds like a total conspiracy theory and it sounds like [expletive], but all real fans and everybody in the family knows it. It was a setup.” Regardless, now that her father is gone, Paris has always been one of the most vocal defenders of his honor and legacy.