Photo Credit: Courtesy of OWN
One of the many aftershocks of Michael Jackson's death was getting a good look at his three children for the first time. While Michael was alive, he placed masks or scarves over the faces of his children whenever they appeared in public with him. In a new interview with Oprah Winfrey, Michael's 14-year-old daughter Paris Jackson gives a surprisingly rational explanation for the bizarre accessories. Watch the clip below:
In the interview, airing Sunday at 9 p.m. on OWN, Paris admits to Winfrey that she was "really confused" by the masks when she was a little girl.
"I didn't get why I was wearing a mask. But I understand it now -- why my dad would want our faces to be covered," says Paris, revealing, "When we went out without him we wouldn't be recognized."
In other words: when Michael took his children out, he assumed there would be paparazzi present and made sure to cover their faces. That way, when he wasn't around, photographers wouldn't recognize the kids and they could carry on like regular children. In Oprah's words: "Smart, smart."
The masks were part of Jackson's effort to give his children as normal a life as possible, against all odds.
"He told us that when he was younger he didn't really have a childhood," says Michael's poised daughter. "He would always be stuck in the studio singing while the kids were out playing. He wanted us to have that."
It sounds like Michael's efforts paid off. Paris describes her childhood with brothers Prince and Blanket as "normal." Their favorite places, she says, were Chuck E. Cheese and Toys R Us. And when the Jackson siblings misbehaved, they'd get sent to their room like any other kid.
"We would get grounded if we did something bad. He wouldn't call it grounding; he'd just say, 'You're on punishment,' Paris recalls. "Sometimes we'd be on punishment a lot. Mostly me and Blanket, because me and Blanket would always fight."
Since Jackson's death, Paris says she's forged a better relationship with Blanket (real name: Prince Michael Jackson II), who is four years her junior.
"Me and Blanket have found a lot of things in common, more things than I thought we did, so me and him have gotten a lot closer," she tells Winfrey.
Her 15-year-old brother Prince, however, is going through a solitary phase.
"Prince has started to drift off," Paris admits with a shrug. "He's a teenager, he's a teenage boy, he's gonna do that."
Oprah's interview with Paris airs Sunday on OWN, as part of her series Oprah's Next Chapter.