Little Mix's Leigh-Anne Pinnock says band were told not to use the word 'feminist'

Singer Leigh-Anne Pinnock has revealed Little Mix were told to avoid the word “feminist” at the beginning of their careers.

The 27-year-old, who won the X Factor with the British pop group in 2011, has opened up about the sexism the foursome originally faced in the music industry.

“At the beginning we didn’t use the word feminist. We were actually told not to just in case it was too controversial,” she told Glamour magazine.

“To be fair, we were really young. I don’t think we were as clued-up as we are now on things. Now we’re proud to say we’re feminists. We are a lot wiser.”

In 2018, the band posed nude to promote body positivity and their latest album LM5, which prompted Piers Morgan to accuse the group of using sex to sell records. In response, Ariana Grande came to the band’s defence and accused the Good Morning Britain presenter of slut-shaming the women.

During the interview, Pinnock also recalled X Factor producers regularly underestimating the band’s success, insisting that “girl bands didn’t do well!” in the competition.

“At the time, we didn’t think too much into it but now we realise how bad that was,” she said of the criticism.

“You can’t put all women in a box like that. Who’s to say we weren’t going to win? Who’s to say we weren’t going to do well? It is these things that made us realise we need to speak up more and speak about what happened to us then.”

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Pinnock, who has just revealed her first solo project as the face of the new Umbro campaign, also opened up about searching for offensive and racist comments about her online as the band’s success grew.

“I’m not going to lie, the first three years of being in the group, I would look for trolls,” she admitted.

“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.”

However, three years after finding fame with the group, the singer stopped searching for hateful comments online and instead channelled her energy into learning self-acceptance.

“I feel so much stronger and I don’t feel like that anymore and I don’t do that anymore,” she revealed. “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.”

While she admitted to not being “100 per cent certain” of herself, Pinnock shared some words of wisdom for fans who may be struggling with self-love.

“You will get there, everyone will get there, but it does take time,” she said. “It took me so long but now I don’t care what people have to say about me anymore and it’s such a good place to be in.”

Pinnock also noted that it is “ridiculous” for anyone to let their skin colour hold them back from achieving their dreams.

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“If anything, I’m now so proud of my skin,” she stated.

“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!’ You have to put it into the universe, you’ve got to be positive and not let anything hold you back.”

This isn’t the first time Pinnock has urged people not to judge women on face value.

In October 2018, the star shared a photograph of herself on Little Mix’s Twitter account alongside a caption discussing the way in which women are often judged by their appearance.

“People can sometimes be quick to judge women at face value and what they see on the outside,” she wrote. “If everyone took the time to look a little deeper I think the world would be a better place.”

Last month, Little Mix received the Brit award for Best British Artist video of the year for their hit 2019 single, “Woman Like Me”.

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