Jade Thirlwall says she was ‘bullied’ into being ashamed of her heritage

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Jade Thirlwall has opened up about feeling ‘ashamed’ of her heritage when she was growing up during a candid discussion with her mother.

The Little Mix star, 27, said she felt ‘bullied’ growing up and regrets not talking about her upbringing more when she was younger due to the feelings of shame, admitting that she ‘suppressed’ who she was.

Jade and her mum Norma, 62, detailed how they are currently looking into their culture more during the September issue of Vogue Arabia, as Jade revealed she believes her mother also ‘suppressed’ who she was.

Open: Jade Thirlwall has opened up about feeling 'ashamed' of her heritage when she was growing up during a candid discussion with her mother

Open: Jade Thirlwall has opened up about feeling ‘ashamed’ of her heritage when she was growing up during a candid discussion with her mother

Speaking about her experience, Jade revealed: ‘I had suppressed who I was because I wasn’t proud. 

‘I had been bullied into thinking I should be ashamed of my identity, so I didn’t talk enough about my heritage in interviews. It makes me sad to think about it now.’

Jade explained that she believes her reluctance to discuss her heritage stemmed from a lack of representation for her culture while growing up.  

The singer said: ‘When I was younger, I didn’t see enough representation of Arabs in magazines or on TV, and when I saw people who looked like my granddad they were always misrepresented. 

Strong bond: Jade and her mum Norma, 62, detailed how they are currently looking into their culture more during the September issue of Vogue Arabia

Strong bond: Jade and her mum Norma, 62, detailed how they are currently looking into their culture more during the September issue of Vogue Arabia

‘I regret now that I didn’t talk about it more, but I was young and scared. I’m trying to make up for it now.’

Jade revealed her mother also had her own struggles with their culture and recently felt ‘a lot of trauma’ during the Black Lives Matter movement and the war in Yemen.

She said: ‘My mam and me have started looking into our culture more and it’s something that is bringing us closer together. 

‘The BLM movement and the war in Yemen has triggered a lot of trauma for my mam, who I think suppressed who she was for a long time, too. The past few months have been very eye-opening for us.’

Despite feeling unable to discuss her heritage during the early days of her career, Jade revealed she is now ‘connecting’ with herself. 

She revealed: ‘As an adult I’m connecting more with my Arab side – it’s a shame that it’s taken me until now to understand that. Being Arab is a beautiful thing.’

‘When I was young, my grandad used to play Arabic songs for me, and I think it did influence me… people say they can tell I have Arab heritage because when I do riffs I must subconsciously perform them in an Arabic style, which is lovely.’

Candid: Jade previously admitted that she 'subconsciously' avoided talking about her race when she found fame with girl band Little Mix on the X Factor

Candid: Jade previously admitted that she ‘subconsciously’ avoided talking about her race when she found fame with girl band Little Mix on the X Factor

Jade previously admitted that she ‘subconsciously’ avoided talking about her race when she found fame with girl band Little Mix on the X Factor.

She said she feared discussing her mixed-race heritage would make her less popular, after being bullied in school because of the colour of her skin.

Jade’s maternal grandfather is from Yemen and her maternal grandmother if from Egypt, while her father is white.

The star said that she didn’t to feel ‘proud’ of herself growing up but added that she feels like her shame was down to a lack of education surrounding race.

Discussing the topic on the No Country For Young Women podcast, 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.

Struggles: Jade e feared discussing her mixed-race heritage would make her less popular, after being bullied in school because of the colour of her skin (pictured 2011)

Struggles: Jade e feared discussing her mixed-race heritage would make her less popular, after being bullied in school because of the colour of her skin (pictured 2011)

Jade, who is from from South Shields in Tyne and Wear, said: ‘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.’

Jade also revealed some of the abuse she suffered as a child, and said: ‘Where I am from, if you weren’t evidently black you were literally put in a bracket of being called the p-word.’

Education failure: The star said that she didn't to feel 'proud' of herself growing up but added that she feels like her shame was down to a lack of education surrounding race (pictured 2011)

Education failure: The star said that she didn’t to feel ‘proud’ of herself growing up but added that she feels like her shame was down to a lack of education surrounding race (pictured 2011)

Discussing the topic on the No Country For Young Women podcast, 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'

Discussing the topic on the No Country For Young Women podcast, 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’

She continued: ‘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.’ 

Jade also told that she struggled to fit in when she joined a mostly white high school, and said: ‘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 known as a really good school and my mam wanted me to have a really good education.’In hindsight I probably would have just rather gone to school were I would fit in more.’

She added: ‘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 f****** mental’.’We never really understood what was going on at the time.’ 

Jade said: ' 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...'

Jade said: ‘ 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…’

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