‘Great British Bake Off’ Winner Nadiya Hussain Recalls Past Experience With Racism: ‘We Need to Start Representing With Our Voices’

Great British Bake-Off Winner Nadiya Hussain Recalls Past Experiences With Racism
Nadiya Hussain. Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock

Nadiya Hussain is speaking out about her own painful experience with racism. The Great British Bake Off champion, who won the sixth season of the popular reality competition series, took to Instagram recently to share a personal anecdote in light of Black Lives Matter protests going on around the globe.

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“I was responding to an ad in the paper, back in the day when we looked for jobs in the paper,” the 35-year-old wrote in the lengthy caption, which was shared on Saturday, June 13. “There was an ad for a hand model needed to model jewelry. I called. Made an appointment. No previous experience required. I had hands, I needed the money, so figured it was a no brainer! It was a sure thing, I was counting my pennies before I had even got the gig.”

However, when Hussain arrived to audition for the job, she recalled walking into a “quiet” room that was “filled with white faces and white hands” and wasn’t even allowed to properly show off her hands. Instead, she was greeted by someone in the reception area. “She said, ‘I’m sorry I didn’t know you were black,'” Hussain recalled, before reminding the woman that the ad had simply specified a need for hands.

“‘Black hands don’t sell jewelry.’ That was her response,” Hussain wrote. “The blood rushed to my face. I was so embarrassed, I was now a deep shade of burgundy. I never really thought about my hands, till the colour of the skin that covered them stopped me from getting a job. When you are a teenager, already a little lost, words like this stick.”

Hussain insisted that she is now very proud of her hands, despite a “seed of doubt” that lingers from that unfortunate incident many years ago.

“Fast forward to my 30s and now my hands are in my cookbooks and in cookery shows, even now I look at them and still I have a seed of doubt imbedded telling me that people must be disgusted by the sight of my brown hands,” she explained, pointing to a second Instagram photo of her hands with both of her middle fingers raised. “But as you can see from my second picture, you know how I feel about it now.”

The U.K. native continued: “I use my hands with pride and allow them to grace cookbooks and cookery shows, to hold my children’s’ hands and stroke their little faces, to cook, to feed… to hold!”

Great British Bake-Off Winner Nadiya Hussain Recalls Past Experiences With Racism
Nadiya Hussain. Courtesy Nadiya Hussain/Instagram

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Additionally, despite her earlier experience attempting to model jewelry, Hussain noted that she has since worked with Swarovski “with these very hands” to model some of the brand’s products. “When I worked with them, they never knew the anxiety I felt at the thought of showcasing my hands, but I did it anyway!” she wrote. “We need to start representing with our voices, with our eyes, with our thoughts, with our hearts and with our hands!”

The Time to Eat author, who has gotten more than 225,000 likes on her post, concluded: “I am taking ownership back with my hands!”

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Since competing on GBBO in 2015, Hussain has become an increasingly sought after and popular figure in the culinary world. In addition to authoring six cookbooks, she was also on hand in December 2019 for A Berry Royal Christmas special. During the televised event, she appeared alongside Prince William, Duchess Kate and former GBBO judge Mary Berry. Hussain even teamed up with William, 37, in a roulade-making competition against Kate, 38, and Berry, 85.

In March, the reality star hinted she’s currently working on a new show with Queer Eye cast member Tan France.

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