Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain reveals the racism she faced when she applied for modelling job as a teen

"Black hands don't sell jewellery"
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  • Nadiya Hussain has shared a story of a racist experience she suffered as a teenager.

    The cooking pro, who won the sixth series of The Great British Bake Off, took to social media today to share details of the story that has stuck with her over the years.

    Beside a photo of the telly star and mum-of-three holding her middle finger up to the camera, she explained that she had endured discrimination because of the colour of her skin when she applied for a hand modelling job.

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

    READ MORE: How and when to start talking to children about racism

    Recalling that she was the only Black person in the room when she arrived to try out for the job, Nadiya added, ‘The room went quiet, the room filled with white faces and white hands. The receptionist stumbled. I sat down while she called someone in. I was met by a women who came and greeted me. I figured it was my turn to show off my hands.

    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.’

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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. 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… walked in on the day. The room went quiet, the room filled with white faces and white hands. The receptionist stumbled. I sat down while she called someone in. I was met by a women who came and greeted me. I figured it was my turn to show off my hands. She said ' im sorry I didn't know you were black' 'yes, right but the ad wanted hands, I have hands' 'black hands dont sell jewellery'. That was her response. 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. 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. But as you can see from my second picture, you know how I feel about it now. I use my hamds with pride and allow them to grace cookbooks and cookery shows, to hold my chidrens hands and stroke their little faces, to cook, to feed… to hold! I have since worked with Swarovski with these very hands, worn their jewellery with pride! 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 ! #represent #hands #withallofourbeing #timeforchange @swarovski

    A post shared by Nadiya (@nadiyajhussain) on

    Admitting she was horrified by the racist comment and that it has stayed in her mind for years, Nadiya revealed how proud she is that, since she found fame, her hands have been a big part of her successful career.

    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.

    ‘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.

    I use my hands with pride and allow them to grace cookbooks and cookery shows, to hold my chidrens hands and stroke their little faces, to cook, to feed… to hold!