Alexandra Burke Says She Was Asked To Bleach Her Skin After Winning The X Factor

by : Niamh Shackleton on : 20 Jun 2020 17:29
Alexandra Burke Says She Was Asked To Bleach Her Skin After Winning The X FactorPA Images/alexandraburke/Instagram

Singer Alexandra Burke says she was asked to bleach her skin after winning The X Factor as a teenager.

The now 31-year-old won the show in 2008 and has since released hit songs like Bad Boys, All Night Long and Broken Heels.


However, as successful as Burke has gone on to be, it hasn’t come easily for her – something which she has opened up about in a 15-minute long Instagram video.

In the clip shared yesterday, June 20, she spoke about her family’s heritage, how she’s proud to be a black woman and about the racism she’s faced in the music industry.

You can watch part of the video here:



Burke first went on The X Factor at the age of 16 and, while she made it through to the judges houses, failed to get past there.

Following how far she got, someone in the music industry contacted her saying they were interested in signing her and told Alexandra to call them in a couple of months time.

The singer explained her first experience of racism in the music industry saying:

This person in particular said to me, ‘you haven’t made it through but give me a call in a couple of months and, y’know, I’ll sign you and take you on as an artist.’ I was like, ‘wow that’s amazing. At 16 years old that’s the break I’ve been waiting for.’

I remember calling this particular person and saying to him I’m in a position to start working, that I’m eager and good-to-go, and the reply and the response that I got was, ‘I’ve already got one black artist. I don’t need another.’


Alexandra went on to say how she didn’t know how to respond at the time, and still wouldn’t know how to now. She added that, ‘it really sucked to hear those words.’

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Oh hi 🖤

A post shared by Alexandra Burke (@alexandraburke) on

The Hallelujah singer continued that if it wasn’t for her love of music that she wouldn’t be in the industry and was told upon winning The X Factor at 19 that, ‘because you’re black, you’re going to have to work ten times harder’.

Alexandra continued:


[I was told] you can’t have braids. You can’t have an afro. You can’t have anything that basically is my identity. You have to have hair, for example, that appeals to white people so people can understand you better.

[…] That was quite hard to digest. I was told to bleach my skin, and that was something I refused to do because it’s just absurd to me that someone could even remotely say to someone ‘bleach your skin so you can look whiter’. Still to this moment it breaks my heart that I was told that.

Further on in the video, an emotional Burke said how she’s was ‘p*ssed off’ with herself for not speaking out sooner. You can watch the full 15-minute video here.

Alexandra BurkePA Images

Following her brave video, the 31-year-old has received messages of support from fellow celebrities such as Wretch 32, Ant Middleton, MNEK and John Barrowman.


While Alexandra Burke has succeeded in the music industry, it’s heartbreaking to know her journey was so much harder than her white counterparts.

This is something many black artists still sadly have to go through, something that desperately needs to change.

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Stop Hate UK by visiting their website www.stophateuk.org/talk

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Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: Celebrity, Instagram, Music, Racism


Alexandra Burke/Instagram
  1. Alexandra Burke/Instagram