Alexandra Burke Was Told ‘To Bleach Her Skin’ After Winning X Factor As She Discusses Racism In The Music Industry

22 June 2020, 10:09 | Updated: 22 June 2020, 10:15

Alexandra Burke was told to bleach her skin

Alexandra Burke was apparently told to bleach her skin after winning The X Factor.

Alexandra Burke was told to have hair “that appeals to white people” and to bleach her skin after she won The X Factor in 2008 at just 19 years old.

As the Black Lives Matter movement continues to gain momentum, Alexandra to Instagram to reveal racism she has experienced within the music industry.

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After winning The X Factor, Alexandra claims she was told: “Because you’re black, you are going to have to work 10 times harder than a white artist. You can’t have braids, you can’t have an afro... you have to have hair that appeals to white people so people can understand you better.”

Alexandra Burke was told to 'bleach her skin' after winning X Factor
Alexandra Burke was told to 'bleach her skin' after winning X Factor. Picture: PA
Alexandra Burke won X Factor in 2008
Alexandra Burke won X Factor in 2008. Picture: PA

Alexandra added: “I got told to bleach my skin which is something I refused to do because that is absurd to me. Still to this moment it breaks my heart I was told that.”

The singer first auditioned for The X Factor in 2005 when she was 16, and after being told she wouldn’t be going through to the live shows she was told by an unnamed music exec to get in touch a few months later and they would sign her.

But when she reached out, they told her: “I already have one black artist, I don’t need another.”

“It really sucked to hear those words, that ‘because of your skin colour you now can’t have the opportunity that was promised,” Alexandra added.

Alexandra also recalled the micro aggressions she has faced such as being told she “needs to smile more” on Instagram or she wouldn’t be considered “relatable.”

Alexandra Burke recalled being named 'a diva' at the Strictly Come Dancing launch
Alexandra Burke recalled being named 'a diva' at the Strictly Come Dancing launch. Picture: PA

One label apparently told her she couldn’t have her baby hairs on show because “it came across as aggressive.”

The ‘Hallelujah’ singer also spoke about her time on Strictly Come Dancing, saying she didn’t want to speak to press at the time the show launched as it was so soon after the loss of her mum.

Alexandra said one journalist told her: “You’re not doing press today – being a diva today are we?” Adding they had this view “because of the papers” she added, “this one journalist has painted me to be a complete and utter b***h.”

Addressing the rumours she was “screaming” at co-stars backstage during the competition, Alexandra said she was in hospital at the time due to an injury.

“I was told to be quiet… So I didn’t say anything and that’s one of my biggest regrets on that show, because if I spoke out, it was, ‘oh she’s playing the victim card’, if I cried, ‘she’s playing another victim card’, if I was happy, ‘Oh look she’s happy but she’s just lost her mum.’”

Alexandra said she now “doesn’t like thinking about that experience at all.”

The 31-year-old said sharing the video “was a scary moment” but is speaking out “because it’s the right thing to do.”

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