There are a few prerequisites that accompany being one of the biggest girl bands in the world, in this case, Little Mix.
A legion of adoring fans (referred to as Mixers), a brigade of brands swarming to dress you in their designs and a career performing all around the world. One of the more unfortunate realities of life for the famous foursome though is the omnipresent pressure of online bullying.
“We’ve all experienced cyberbullying, bullying in any form really, and we want to show our friends that we’re here to support them and spread positivity,” one-quarter of the band, Jade Thirlwall, 27, says. “Especially as four girls, I think that’s really important to show that sense of solidarity to other women.“
It’s with this in mind that Perrie, Jesy, Leigh-Anne and Thirlwall are using their clout to partner with skincare brand, Simple, on its #simplechoosekindness campaign, which is in partnership with anti-bullying youth charity, Ditch the Label. This year, between the lockdown period of March to May, support requests for Ditch the Label increased by 158 per cent and the charity has found through its own research that nearly 1 in 3 teens in the UK experience cyberbullying.
Jesy Nelson, 29, is the member of the band who’s been most vocal about her struggle with bullying, most notably in her candid BBC documentary, Odd One Out, which was released last year. “Online can be quite a negative place so I think to always be kind is important,” she asserts.
“It’s really important to us that, when we put our names behind something, it’s a company that we’re all really proud to be in partnership with,” Thirlwall explains. “This is such an authentic partnership for us.”
We caught up with the band via Zoom for a good old girly gossip.
Naomi: How have you girls found lockdown?
Perrie: We’ve actually kind of enjoyed it, we’ve had a nice bit of time off but we’ve missed each other a lot so it’s nice to be reunited.
With all of this extra time on your hands, have any of you picked up any new beauty habits?
Leigh-Anne: I’ve been loving exfoliating every week and then face masks as well to hydrate. The next day after a face mask doesn’t your face just feel SO nice?! It’s been nice to just give ourselves a bit of self-love.
You’ve all been pretty open about your struggles with mental health, how does social media and the need to always look perfect play into that?
Jade: It’s quite damaging really. There’s this constant strive for perfection which will never truly be met, so what do we do?! It’s taken quite a few years for all of us to properly feel comfortable in our own skin because society tries to condition us to make us believe that we have to look a certain way in order to be beautiful, which is so untrue. We’re still on our journey, and we’re all guilty of scrolling Instagram – seeing somebody who’s probably edited their photos who looks incredible and thinking ‘Oh God, why don’t I look like that?’, ‘I wish I had her face.’
It’s learning to distance what is reality and what isn’t I think. People on social media just portray what they want you to see.
Perrie: I think it’s healthy to stay away from Instagram every now and again. Especially when you’re stuck indoors, you can spend hours and hours scrolling and getting stuck down this deep hole of feeling inferior to other people. I’ve hardly been on my phone to be honest and I’ve felt great for it.
Leigh-Anne: You just need a break! It’s sometimes too much, isn’t it? It can be so toxic and you honestly need to take time out for yourself.
Perrie: Isn’t it weird how you can be feeling amazing about yourself and then you go on social media and just compare, compare, compare? And you start thinking I’m not like that!
It’s so hard, and it’s worse when you think of the young and impressionable girls that have Instagram and how it might impact them.
Perrie: Completely! We didn’t have this growing up, it was completely different back then.
Leigh-Anne, you’ve recently spoken about how you’ve faced racism in the music industry, how important is it to increase representation in the beauty industry too?
Leigh-Anne: Oh my God, it’s super, super important! That’s the problem: there isn’t enough representation and that’s why I think it’s so important to keep speaking up and to keep raising this awareness and trying to make as much change and noise as we can because it’s been a problem for so long and finally the world is starting to talk about it now. Frustrating, but at least it’s happening.
How do all deal with trolls on social media?
Perrie: Ignore them! Well, you either ignore or you attach…Or block! Get that negativity out of your life with one click, bye!
Jesy: Kill them with kindness, that’s what I like to do!
Leigh-Anne: I said something the other week and I messaged the girls like ‘ah, the scrutiny!’ There’s a lot of keyboard warriors and it makes you feel a bit anxious, it’s really horrible. When something like that happens, I think the thing to do is to just not go on your phone. There must be people whose job is to literally just go online and troll.
Perrie: Think about it; we’re late 20s, we’ve been in the industry for a while, we’re women and now can you imagine how a 14-year-old feels? When they get back from school and they get shit online and on social media? We’ve grown a thick skin so we can get over it now, but imagine being a bairn (Scottish word for child) and experiencing that? When we were young, you’d leave school and go and play out with your friends, whereas now you leave school and go on social media. You can’t escape it.
Leigh-Anne: You know what there should actually be? An age restriction. Because how can a young child possibly prepare themselves for that?
Jade: Instagram now deletes horrible words once it’s recognised them. I don’t know what the words are but it will just take them away.
Perrie: You know how we always say that we don’t want our kids to have social media? But then, if they don’t have it, they’re outcasts and ‘not cool’? What if there was an age restriction so that nobody their age had it?
Jesy: There should be a thing that when you have Instagram, you have face ID so that you can’t create a fake account. Then if you do troll, they’ll know it’s you because of your ID. Because realistically, if you block them, they can just create another account.
Jade: There’s also zero consequence, which needs to change.
What a great idea! And how do you girls manage to pick yourselves up when you’re feeling down and just a bit bleurgh?
Jesy: I personally just surround myself with the people that I love and that bring me up and make me happy. Or I do things that make me happy like eat some chocolate, or watch my favourite film or listen to music, just do the things that actually make you happy.
Leigh-Anne: It’s so important to have supportive people around you who you can really lean on.
What are the best tips you’ve picked up from make-up artists over your time in the industry?
All girls in agreement: Contour!
Jade: We just didn’t used to know about this world did we?
Jesy: We never had cheekbones before!
Leigh-Anne: Also we always used to wear eyelashes that were like ten times too big for our face.
Perrie: Oh, and the power of a brow gel!
What are the skincare tips that you all live by?
Leigh-Anne: Micellar water.
And have you managed to get to the hairdressers yet?!
Perrie: I felt like an idiot because I didn’t think to book! So I’ve got to wait for another week and a half / two weeks to get my hair done. You should see the greys!
Shop the Simple x Little Mix collection, in partnership with Ditch the Label, here.
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