Jade Thirlwall feared not being 'popular' because of her heritage


Jade Thirlwall kept her heritage a secret when she joined Little Mix because she thought being "proud" would make her less "popular".

The 27-year-old singer has one-quarter Egyptian ancestry and one-quarter Yemeni ancestry, and has said that after being "bullied quite badly" in school because of the colour of her skin, she kept her heritage to herself when she auditioned for 'The X Factor' in 2011, where she joined Little Mix.

Jade says it "sounds awful" to admit being "ashamed" of who she is, but now understands the importance of speaking out.

She said: "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.

"I think when I then entered the group 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 and 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."

The 'Woman Like Me' hitmaker blamed the bullying she endured at school on a "lack of education" about race and ethnicity, and says that although her school gave her a "good education", she would rather have gone somewhere where she "fit in more".

She explained: "I think it is a lack of education ... 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 a really good school and my mum 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."

Jade also says her battle with racism also contributed to her struggle with anorexia, but insisted there were "a number" of causes.

Speaking to the BBC Sounds podcast, 'No Country For Young Women', she said: "Having anorexia was due to a number of things. When my grandad died I think that really affected by mental health as he was like my best friend, my mum and dad were arguing a lot at home and I was getting bullied at school so a culmination of those things are what drove me to start starving myself ... the one thing I could control was what I ate."