'Black hands don’t sell jewellery': Nadiya Hussain shares racist modelling job experience

·Contributor, Yahoo Life UK
·3-min read
Nadiya Hussain has shared a powerful post on the racism she's experienced, pictured here in London, January 2020. (Getty Images)
Nadiya Hussain has shared a powerful post on the racism she's experienced, pictured here in London, January 2020. (Getty Images)

Nadiya Hussain has shared a powerful post to Instagram recalling an incident when she was turned down for a modelling job when she was younger because of her skin colour.

The GBBO winner and chef posted two photos of herself on Instagram yesterday. In the first, she is holding her palms up to the screen, while in the second she has her middle finger up.

In the accompanying caption she described an incident she experienced when she was told “black hands don’t sell jewellery” at an audition for a hand modelling job.

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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...there was an ad for a hand model needed to model jewellery,” she wrote.

“I called. Made an appointment. No previous experience required. I had hands, I needed the money, so figured it was a no brainer!”

But on arrival she realised it might not be the sure thing she expected it to be.

“The room went quiet, the room filled with white faces and white hands,” she recalled.

“The receptionist stumbled. I sat down while she called someone in. I was met by a women who came and greeted me.”

While Hussain figured it was her turn to show her hands, she realised she was mistaken when the woman started speaking.

Hussain wrote: “She said ‘I’m sorry I didn't know you were black’ ‘yes, right but the ad wanted hands, I have hands’ ‘black hands don't sell jewellery’. That was her response.”

The chef said “the blood rushed” to her 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.”

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II shakes hands with Nadiya Hussein (L), winner of the Great British Bake Off who baked a cake for her during a 'walkabout' on her 90th birthday in Windsor, west of London, on April 21, 2016.  Britain celebrates Queen Elizabeth II's 90th birthday on Thursday, with her eldest son Prince Charles paying tribute in a special radio broadcast and Prime Minister David Cameron leading a parliamentary homage. / AFP / POOL / John Stillwell        (Photo credit should read JOHN STILLWELL/AFP via Getty Images)
Nadiya Hussein meets the Queen in 2016. (John Stillwell/AFP via Getty Images)

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She went on to say the experience has had a lasting impact on her.

“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 says.

However, she’s determined to overcome those feelings.

“But as you can see from my second picture, you know how I feel about it now. 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!”

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She said one job in particular helped her redefine that experience.

“I have since worked with Swarovski with these very hands, worn their jewellery with pride!” she said.

“When I worked with them they never knew the anxiety I felt at the thought of showcasing my hands, but I did it anyway! We need to start representing with our voices, with our eyes, with our thoughts, with our hearts and with our hands! I am taking ownership back with my hands!”

Despite the incident taking place years ago, the chef doesn’t believe things have changed that much. She recently revealed that she has “experienced more racism in 5 years working in the TV/Food industry than any other time of my life” – but said that now is the “time to call it out”.

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