Nadiya Hussain talked about the importance of taking up space, and the trick she uses to make sure she gets it.
Baker, cook, writer and broadcaster Nadiya Hussain isn’t afraid to take up space. After the success of various cookbooks and novels, the former Great British Bake Off winner has just released her memoir, Finding My Voice. And she is also preparing to speak at Stylist Live LUXE next month, where she will share the advice she wishes she could tell her younger self.
But, as her book details, it’s not been a straightforward road to get to this point.
Speaking on The Graham Norton Show on Friday (18 October), Hussain revealed how important she feels it is to “take up space” and shared the trick she uses to make sure she does it.
After host Norton asked how she felt about being a role model for Muslim women, Hussain replied: “If you’d have asked me four years ago, I’d have been like ‘I want to cook and I want to do this and I want to write’, but I wanted it to be incidental.
“I don’t just want people to see ‘Muslim’ or ‘the brown woman’. And actually, four years later, now we’re sat here and having this conversation, I realise the importance of doing the job that I do.”
Hussain continued: “What I find is that we don’t talk enough. And that’s coming from a Bangladeshi girl and a British girl. And I think we’re quite British and stoic – with a stiff upper lip – and we don’t talk about our feelings, and I think, because I suffer with mental health issues as well, it’s really important for us to learn how to be open and speak.
“Now, four years later, when someone asks “is it a burden to be where you are?’ I think yeah, it’s not easy, sometimes I lose sleep and sometimes I struggle with the job that I do.”
She then continued to share the invaluable advice that she gives her children.
“Here’s a thing that I tell my kids,” she continued.
“I say ‘elbows out’. There’s a rule in our house: whenever you feel like you don’t fit in or feel like there’s a place that isn’t there for you, stick your elbows out – not physically but metaphorically.
“Get those elbows out and make space. And that’s what I say to myself, I say: “Elbows out make space”. Because there are people out there like me who want to do what they love. Not neccessasrily famous or being on television, but they want to do something that they love but they don’t see space for them.
“So let’s get our elbow out and make space.”
Wise words indeed. We can’t wait to hear what other advice Hussain has to share at Stylist Live LUXE in November. Find information about tickets here.
Images: Stylist, Sarah Brick