entertainment

Britney Spears and Cyndi Lauper helped empower Munroe Bergdorf as a queer child

The model and activist reflects on the songs and podcasts that have uniquely shaped her life in Attitude x Spotify's #OnlyYou series.

2021-06-24

In paid partnership with Spotify

Images: Markus Bidaux / RCA Records / Shorefire Media

Long before she was one of Britain's most influential models and activists, Munroe Bergdorf was a young queer child growing up in 1990s Essex - and the music that soundtracked those often lonely years has stuck with her ever since.

As Munroe joins Attitude for a brand new video series in partnership with Spotify, which sees LGBTQ stars reveal the songs and podcasts that have shaped their lives, the former face of L'Oréal reveals that she found strength in the music of Cyndi Lauper and Britney Spears as she battled classroom bullies and confusion over her gender identity. 

"The song that’s guaranteed to make me cry is Cyndi Lauper, ‘True Colours’," admits Munroe, 33.

"I had a lot of bullying in high school and it was a song that both helped me cope, but also reminds me of how I had to cope with a situation that I should never have been in in the first place."

The former Attitude Award winner adds that another classic Lauper track still resonates with her so powerfully that she'd choose to have it played at her funeral.

"I find I draw a lot of my strength from childhood and who I was before the world started telling me who I should be, so I’d love to really bring that back to the end of my life," Munroe explains.

"‘Time After Time’ is from one of the first albums I ever bought, which was [Lauper's] greatest hits, Twelve Deadly Cyns...and Then Some.

"It always reminds me of when I was in my bedroom, had no friends [and] couldn’t talk to my parents about what I was going through, but still had the strength to go to school every day and face my bullies and get through it.

"So I think I’d like to take that song of empowerment from my childhood and bring it to the end of my life."

Cyndi Lauper isn't the only American pop artist that helped a young Munroe begin to see a world beyond the boundaries of the school playground, however.

"I think my most-played artist is Britney Spears", reveals the outspoken campaigner. "I just get a lot of empowerment from her."

"For a kid that grew up in the nineties and early noughties it was a very strange time, and I think Britney encapsulated – without meaning to do it – how white artists can be inclusive and multicultural within their art visuals, without making it a thing.

"If you look back, a lot of her visuals, her dancers who worked on her team; it was all kinds of different people, her dancers were gay... Her music wasn’t necessarily exclusive in any way.

 
 
 
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"I felt like when you were watching a Britney show, you were brought in."

She adds: "Obviously everything that she went through in the public eye, I think that’s why the gay community and the queer community have so much respect for her, because she went through so much – and still is going through so much."

Listen to the Only Munroe Bergdorf playlist on Spotify and below. To discover more about your own unique listening habits, visit spotify.com/onlyyou.