Gigi Hadid: ‘Girls Have The Right To Fight Back Too’

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by Katie Rosseinsky |

Last week, Gigi Hadid was grabbed and picked up by Ukranian ‘prankster’ Vitalii Sediuk as she left the Max Mara show in Milan. In a totally reasonable response to an unreasonable and unprovoked assault, the model fought back against her attacker, elbowing him to break free before he ran away.

As videos of the incident began to appear online, soon came the headlines. ‘NOT MODEL BEHAVIOUR’ shouted The Sun, choosing to paint the model as aggressive and arrogant for daring to be anything more than a passive mannequin.

In the latest edition of Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter, Gigi has spoken out about her attack and the media response it provoked, explaining that she hopes her case will inspire girls to defend themselves in similar situations.

A former volleyball champion and keen amateur boxer, Gigi reveals in her letter that fighting back came as a physical reflex. ‘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 writes. ‘I played volleyball, and my coaches talked about muscle memory. I started boxing two years ago and I always remembered that.’ Thanks to her training, the model instinctively felt able to fight off her attacker, explaining, ‘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.’

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Gigi leaves the MaxMara show with sister Bella ©Getty Images

‘Honestly, I felt I was in danger, and I had every right to react the way I did,’ she adds, before going on to encourage her female fans to stand up to harassment, explaining how ‘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.’

‘Practising self-defence 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.’

Addressing the Sun headline which slammed her behaviour as ‘aggressive’, Gigi asks the writer: ‘What would you tell your daughter to do? If my behaviour isn’t model behaviour, then what is?’ Her own mother’s response, the model reveals, was a nod of approval. ‘When my mom [former model Yolanda Foster] first saw what had happened, she texted me the picture of me elbowing the guy and (among other messages of support) said, “Good girl”’.

As the video has been circulated, Gigi has been praised for her actions, but as she puts, ‘in the moment, it wasn’t heroic to me. It was just what I had to do [] 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.’

Model behaviour indeed.

Read Lena and Gigi’s piece in full at www.lennyletter.com.

READ MORE: Gigi Hadid Wasn't Pranked: She Was Assaulted

READ MORE: How 2016 Became The Year Of The Hadids

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