community

Munroe Bergdorf on why it's time to have a conversation about 'cancel culture'

"It seems like we weaponise one another’s mistakes for our benefit, and it’s just polarising us more."

2019-12-10

Words: Will Stroude

As one of Britain's most prominent transgender activists and personalities, Munroe Bergdorf knows first-hand the growing vitriol and hostility that surrounds our cultural and political discourse.

But despite consistently using her own platform to challenge and call out hatred and oppression, the 32-year-old model and presenter is calling on the community to engage with and help educate those who've been guilty of problematic behaviour rather than 'cancelling' them forever.

As she appears on the cover of Attitude's January 'Activists & Allies' issue - out now to download and to order globally - Munroe says that so-called 'cancel culture' risks dividing society further and 'radicalising' those who might otherwise have the opportunity to learn from their errors.

Munroe Bergdorf, shot by Fancisco Gomez de Villaboa exclusively for Attitude's January 'Activists & Allies' issue, out now

"We need to start having conversations about things such as cancel culture," she tells us.

"It seems like we weaponise one another’s mistakes for our benefit, and it’s just polarising us more."

The former L'Oréal ambassador goes on: "What’s the gameplan with cancel culture because we want people to be growing and learning and admitting their mistakes, and having the humility to recognise how they’ve grown and where they fell down, then educate other people.

"Falling down is how we grow as people, and if we’re stopping each other from building, what’s the point?

"You can’t just cancel somebody. If anything, cancel culture radicalises people more."

Munroe, who was controversially stripped of her role as an ambassador for Childline earlier this year following complaints from transphobes who took issue with her former work for Playboy, explains that all of us have to unlearn prejudices that are ingrained in us by the media.

"How can we be perfect when society is not perfect and we’re raised within society?", she says.

"When I was younger I said some horrendously fat-phobic things because comedy and mainstream media, films and television goaded us to be fat-phobic. It goaded white people to be racist. It goads straight people to be homophobic.

"Unless you are stimulated with an antidote... that’s what you’re going to be because society tells you to be that.

"We were raised with films like Shallow Hal, with Gwyneth Paltrow in a fat suit, The Nutty Professor, starring Eddie Murphy in a fat suit, Little Britain with fat suits and blackface, and Bo’ Selecta! with blackface.

"If it wasn’t for people coming out of the woodwork and saying, 'Actually, you know what, this isn’t on,” then we would still be thinking that’s OK'."

Read the full interview with Munroe Bergdorf in Attitude's January 'Activists & Allies' issue, out now.

Buy now and take advantage of our best-ever subscription offers: three issues for £3 in print, 13 issues for £19.99 to download to any device.