TV presenter and cook Nadiya Hussain has admitted that she previously wanted “to bleach the brown out of me” in a bid to “be like everyone else”.
The former Great British Bake-Off champion has spoken candidly about her experiences in a new BBC Three documentary called Being British Bangladeshi.
In a clip from the programme, the 36-year-old says: “I’m not going to lie for a second and tell you that there aren’t times I’ve wanted to bleach the brown out of me because life would have been so much easier if I wasn’t brown, if I wasn’t Bangladeshi.
“If I could just be like everybody else, but I come with all those layers that I do represent and I understand the importance of that now.”
The documentary, which is presented by British-Bangladeshi comedian Ali Shahalom (Ali Official), also stars MP Rushanara Ali, musician Mumzy Stranger and fellow comedians Smash Bengali, Iksy and Mistah Islah.
It aims to find out more about the challenges and successes they have experienced, on the fiftieth anniversary of independence in the south-east Asian country.
It’s not the first time the bestselling cookery author has spoken out about race and racism.
In June 2020, the mother-of-three revealed she had experienced more racism since finding fame than ever before.
Writing on Instagram, she said: “Just because you don’t experience racism, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, it does!
“I have experienced more racism in five years working in the TV/Food industry than any other time of my life and it’s time to call it out!”
Hussain did not elaborate on the incidents but added the hashtag “#CallRacismOut” in the caption.
And in 2016, Hussain said that racial abuse has become part of her life, so much so she now expects it.
Speaking to Radio 4 host Kirsty Young, Hussain said: “I’ve had things thrown at me and [been] pushed and shoved. I feel like that’s just become a part of my life now. I expect it. Absolutely I expect it.
“I expect to be shoved or pushed or verbally abused because that happens. It’s been happening for years.”
Hussain went on to explain how she deals with the abuse, adding that she never retaliates negatively but instead chooses to be the “better person”.
“I feel like there’s a dignity in silence and I think if I retaliate to negativity with negativity then we’ve evened out,” she explained. “And I don’t need to even that out because if somebody’s being negative, I need to be the better person.”
If you have been the victim of racism, the following organisations may be able to help with support: Equality Advisory and Support Service (call 0808 800 0082) or Stop Hate UK (www.stophateuk.org or 0800 138 1625 ) .