Last week Gigi Hadid made headlines after a video surfaced of her being grabbed from behind by a man as she left the Max Mara fashion show.
The video showed the supermodel caught off guard as the man grabbed her and picked her up, but as her security detail appeared to hesitate, Gigi took it upon herself to fight the man off.
While some dismissed the incident as merely a crazed fan, Gigi was understandably shaken by the incident, something no woman, famous or not, should ever have to face.
Now the 21-year-old has penned a powerful piece for Lena Dunham’s newsletter Lenny, in which she describes what she felt during the attack, and why she knew she had to fight back.
“I played volleyball, and my coaches talked about muscle memory,” she wrote.
“I started boxing two years ago and I always remembered that. Since then, I hadn’t been in a situation that forced me to fight back, but it just came out when he grabbed me — it wasn’t a choice. I do have that fighter in me.”
“I remember taking the time, as it all felt slo-mo, to look at him, a stranger, and my first reaction was: ‘Get me out of this situation.’ ” she explained. “Honestly, I felt I was in danger, and I had every right to react the way I did.”
Initially some reports had described Gigi as an ‘angry supermodel’ who ‘overreacted’ and ‘lashed out’ at a fan.
This infuriated the model, and she also addressed this in her essay.
“The first article that was posted about the incident was headlined: ‘Not model behavior. Gigi aggressively lashes out and elbows fan in the face after he tries to pick her up. The supermodel angrily hit an unknown man before running to her car.’ ” she confessed. “That’s when I really got pissed.”
“First of all, it was a woman who wrote the story with that headline,” she continued. “What would you tell your daughter to do? If my behavior isn’t model behavior, then what is? What would you have told your daughter to do in that situation?”
Gigi wants all women and girls to know that they always have the right to fight back, famous or not, no one ever has the right to place their hands on you without your consent.
“If anything, I want girls to see the video and know that they have the right to fight back, too, if put in a similar situation,” she said. “Practicing self-defense is important so that when you’re in the moment, reacting from muscle memory comes more naturally to you than freezing up.”
“Confidence in your own ability to defend yourself comes with educating yourself about it, and is a massive advantage when in an unsafe situation,” she added.
“It sounds cliché to say it, but in the moment, it wasn’t heroic to me,” she said. “It was just what I had to do. It’s very touching to me that people see it that way. I know people are put in much worse situations every day and don’t have the cameras around that provoke social-media support. I just want to use what happened to me to show that it’s everyone’s right, and it can be empowering, to be able to defend yourself.”