Little Mix star Leigh-Anne Pinnock claims the girl group were told not to describe themselves as feminists to avoid controversy.

The singer has said she and other members of the band were warned not to label themselves “feminist” when they first formed.

Pinnock has said the band has since ditched the advice, which was meant to broaden their appeal, and have proudly declared their feminism.

Speaking to Glamour magazine, Pinnock said while she has been more forthright in her feminism, she has taken a step back from the pressures of social media.

The singer has said that during her first experience of fame, she would search for “Leigh-Anne from Little Mix, the black girl in Little Mix” and be upset by the results.

She told Glamour magazine: “At the beginning we didn’t use the word feminist. We were actually told not to just in case it was too controversial.

“To be fair, we were really young. I don’t think we were as clued-up as we are now on things. Now we’re proud to say we’re feminists. We are a lot wiser.”

Pinnock said the band has now changed, and the initial warnings from producers that a girl band would not succeed have been proven wrong.

The singer said that the band is moving away from simply talking about the common subjects of pop music and girl groups.

She said: “We are talking so much more and being so much more vocal about issues going on in the world and it feels really good.

“It feels good to actually speak about something that matters. I don’t want to talk about my bloody boyfriend.”

Pinnock added that people should be wary of “toxic” social media environments, and she is happier now that she pays less attention to online comments.