Leigh-Anne Pinnock used to search for online abuse from racist trolls when Little Mix
The 27-year-old pop star – who sings in the girl group alongside Jesy Nelson, Jade Thirlwall and Perrie Edwards – became obsessed about people thought about her and would actively look for negative comments about herself by writing "the black girl in Little Mix" into Google but "regrets" doing that now she is more confident in herself.
In an interview with Glamour, she said: "I’m not going to lie, the first three years of being in the group, I would look for trolls. I would search Leigh-Anne. I would look through Twitter and I would search Leigh-Anne from Little Mix, the black girl in Little Mix, I would put these things in my search engines just to see the comments.
"I regret doing that so much but I’m here now and I feel so much stronger and I don’t feel like that anymore and I don’t do that anymore. I don’t look for it. I want to be someone who got through that. She was that person and now I’m so proud of who I am and it’s such a good feeling."
Little Mix were put together on the 2011 series of UK talent show ‘The X Factor’ in 2011 and became the first group to win the talent show.
Although their first album ‘DNA’ was a major hit and they followed it up with 2013’s equally impressive ‘Salute’, Leigh-Anne felt "invisible" during the early years of the group.
She said: "For the first three years of getting thrown into this crazy world I was still working out where I fitted in. It was a weird feeling because I did feel invisible. I didn’t know why I felt like that and it took me a bit of time to actually process it."
The ‘Salute’ hitmaker was wary of speaking out about race issues or feminist issues because she didn’t want to upset any of the band’s fans or the team working behind them.
She said: "I think there were some reservations because I was scared to say the wrong thing. I didn’t want to offend anyone … But I’m really happy I did because it’s only going to help people and it’s opening the conversation and making people feel braver to speak about it themselves. It’s so important to speak up on these issues because the more people that do, the more change is going to happen. I have got the most incredible fan base who pick me up and we do it for them. This is why we do what we do. They are our fans and they are the best."
And now Leigh-Anne couldn’t be more proud to be a black woman making it big in the music industry.
She said: "Do not let anything hold you back – especially the colour of your skin, that’s ridiculous and it shouldn’t be anything to hold you back. If anything, I’m now so proud of my skin. You literally have to go for it. I never let anyone tell me anything growing up and I knew I wanted to be a singer. I would say to every single person that entered my life, ‘I’m going to be a singer, I’m going to be on billboards and I’m going to smash it!’ "