Jade Thirlwall

Little Mix’s Jade Thirlwall discusses the “horrific” racist abuse she has faced

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Little Mix singer Jade Thirlwall has opened up about the racism she experienced at school for being mixed race in a very honest new interview on the No Country for Young Women podcast.

Little Mix’s Jade Thirlwall has openly talked about the racist abuse she experienced while growing up. During an interview on the No Country for Young Women podcast, the singer, who is of Arabian descent, said people usually don’t know she is mixed race. However, as she gets older, she is continuing to explore her heritage more and talk about the importance of recognising it. 

“I think because I was bullied quite badly in school because of the colour of my skin and for being Arab I wasn’t very proud of who I was,” she tells podcast hosts Sadia Azmat and Monty Onanuga.

“I think when I then entered the group [Little Mix] I subconsciously didn’t want to talk about my heritage or what my background was in fear of not being as popular, which sounds awful to say but I was only 18 years old. Through years of being ashamed of who I was, I found it quite hard to talk about it.

“I think it was through a lack of education as well, even now I am constantly learning what the right things are to say and I would hate to talk about my race and my heritage and not say the right things.”

She continues: “Where I am from, if you weren’t evidently black you were literally put in a bracket of being called the p-word… when I was at school if I was ever bullied for the colour of my skin I’d get so confused as I’d be like, ‘well I’m not from Pakistan’. I remember one time I got pinned down in the toilets and they put a bindi spot on my forehead, it was horrific.

“When I went to secondary school I was literally one of three people of colour in the school… it was a very predominately white Catholic school. I went through a lot in the first two years of secondary school. It was a known as [being] a really good school and my mam wanted me to have a really good education. In hindsight I probably would have just rather of gone to school were I would fit in more.”

Thirlwall adds: “I have constantly had this inner battle of not really having who I am or where I fit in or what community I fit into.

“Some of the things I think about that I can laugh about now are just so crazy. I used to be in an amateur operatic society, they would literally put white powder on my face to whiten me on stage, even now me and my mum will talk about it and we’ll be like ‘that was fucking mental’, we never really understood what was going on at the time.”

You can listen to the full interview on the No Country for Young Women podcast on BBC Sounds. 

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…