Little Mix star Jade Thirlwall developed an eating disorder after being bullied at high school.
The 28-year-old singer has opened up about her troubled teen years for new book ‘The Female Lead (Volume II): We Rise By Lifting Others’ and in her contribution to the tome she reveals how racism, tragedy and body image issues had a detrimental effect on her mental health.
Jade revealed that getting tormented for her skin colour, ethnicity and heritage left her confused and insecure, and along with the bullying in high school, the ‘Touch’ hitmaker also suffered the loss of her beloved grandfather all of which led to her eating disorder.
Jade shared: “I was bullied, my grandad died and I got an eating disorder.
“I grew up in South Shields, a small northern working-class town. My mam worked at my primary school as a business manager, my dad as a taxi driver.
“My dad’s side of the family are white, my Mam is mixed; my Grandad was Yemeni, and my Nanna was Egyptian.
“I was shy and timid but I found that I could express myself on stage, singing and dancing. I always felt loved and protected growing up, especially by my Grandad.
“The minute I went to secondary school things changed. I was the only person from my primary who went to my predominantly white Catholic secondary and, immediately, I had no friends and I was an easy target.
“My Mam sent me there because it was one of the best schools in the borough and she thought she was doing the right thing.”
Jade credits her attempts to be noticed for her singing ability on ‘The X Factor’ – on which she made it through to the live shows as part of Little Mix on her third audition in 2011 – for stopping the bullying.
She said: “I got sent home in the first week. It was humiliating and, as a teenager, the worst thing in the world. But, weirdly, being seen on telly scored me a few cool points at school.
“The second time I did ‘X Factor’ I was 17. It was the year that One Direction were put together; there was a girl band called Belle Amie, but I didn’t get in.
“The third time, I didn’t actually want to go on ‘X Factor’. My older brother [Karl], who has always been a big champion of mine, said, ‘Jade, just go. I know how much you want this, and you never know – third time lucky!'”
Jade also spoke about what it’s like being a woman in the mu industry having to battle misogyny and sexism on a daily basis.
She said: “In the mu industry, misogyny and sexism still exist. For a girl band, it’s hard to be taken seriously and not constantly sexualised.”
Little Mix made history after they won the BRIT Award for Best British Group. It was the first time an all-female-band had won in that category.
‘The Female Lead (Volume II): We Rise By Lifting Others’ contains the stories of 67 remarkable women, from diverse backgrounds, interviewed exclusively for the tome.
In the book, they all share their stories and show the “incredible strength, talent, ingenuity, resilience and bravery that women possess”.
As well as Jade, other contributors to the book – the follow-up to 2017’s ‘The Female Lead’ – Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Nadia Murad, Australia’s First Female Prime Minister Julia Gillard and actress Jodie Whittaker, who was the first woman to portray ‘Doctor Who’.