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Nicola Adams opens up about racist microaggressions: ‘People move their handbags away from me’

Boxer and future Strictly Come Dancing contestant Nicola Adams has opened up about racial microaggressions she experiences as a Black woman in the UK.

Speaking to Women’s Health, Adams spoke about “subtle” ways in which she encounters racism in day-to-day life.

“As a Black woman, I know I’m treated differently,” she said.

“Subtle things, like people moving their handbags away from me or security guards following me around shops.”

(Women’s Health / Djeneba Aduayom)

Adams, who will be one half of the first same-sex pairing on the next season of Strictly Come Dancing, also shared her feelings on being in an interracial relationship with her girlfriend, Ella Baig.

“The first time my partner Ella and I really considered that we were an ‘interracial’ couple was when a woman commented on a picture of us on social media saying she was proud of us for being one,” she said.

“We just feel like two ordinary people.”

The two-time Olympic gold medal winner said she has become “resilient” to online abuse, and until recently, she would usually “block people rather than reply.”

She continued: “But recently, Ella [who has also been subjected to online bullying] and I decided to fight back, because maybe there are people out there who aren’t able to cope with these sorts of messages; people who might find it comforting to know that even though I’m an Olympic champion, people still say horrible things to me.”

In response to news that the BBC had received complaints over the first same-sex Strictly pairing, Adams recently wrote on Twitter: “Just when you think 2020 can’t surprise you anymore. Something else happens.”

Addressing the complaints, the BBC said in a statement: “Strictly Come Dancing is an inclusive show and is proud to have featured same sex dancing amongst the professional dancers in group numbers in previous series.

“We have stated, in the past, that we are open to the prospect of including same sex pairings between our celebrities and professional dancers, should the opportunity arise.

“Nicola Adams requested an all-female pairing, which we are happy to facilitate.

“The show is first and foremost about dance, the sex of each partner within a coupling should have no bearing on their routine.”

Strictly Come Dancing will return to BBC One in October.

Read the full Nicola Adams interview in the November 2020 issue of Women’s Health, on sale from 30th September 2020, also available as a digital edition.


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