Bella Hadid Has Spoken Candidly About Her History Of Abusive Relationships

‘I started not having boundaries, not only sexually, physically, emotionally, but then it went into my workspace,’ she said.

Bella Hadid

by Lydia Spencer-Elliott |

Bella Hadid has spoken about her struggles with boundaries ‘sexually, physically, emotionally,’ and said that being a ‘people pleaser’ has caused her to sacrifice her own comfort and led to her being abused in numerous professional and romantic relationships with both men and women.

‘I constantly went back to men—and also, women—that had abused me and that’s where the people pleasing came in,’ Bella said on the Victoria's Secret VS Voices podcast. ‘I started not having boundaries, not only sexually, physically, emotionally, but then it went into my workspace. I began to be a people-pleaser with my job,’ she explained.

‘It was everyone else’s opinion of me that mattered except for my own,’ Bella said. ‘I essentially was putting my worth into the hands of everyone else and that was the detriment of it.

Tracing the root of her difficulties with maintaining boundaries back to her childhood, Bella reflected: ‘I always felt like my voice was never heard growing up. I grew up around men—whether that was in relationships or family or whatever that was—where I was constantly told that my voice was less important than their voice.’

She continued: ‘Then moving into relationships growing up, and not having the boundaries of being able to stick up for myself and have my voice being heard, affected me in my adult relationships very intensely. My nervous system would crash. It was fight or flight. Either I would become silent and cry and just go inward or I would lash out and leave.’

This conversation about boundaries and abuse within professional and personal relationships was powerful. Bella’s eloquent and insightful thoughts about her journey to establish much-needed boundaries will resonate with and give comfort to many going through a similar situation.

And as models spent so many years being regarded predominantly as glorified living mannequins, it’s always a welcome decision when brands give these women the space and platform to speak articulately on the topics of importance to them.

VS Voices is a particularly intriguing pivot as, for years, Victoria's Secret was characterised by their famous catwalk show, which saw toned, tall, women model lace lingerie in a production that had the air of a Miss World pageant about it.

The bodies were so unattainable they were barely aspirational - just depressing and damaging to the average sized women.

Outdated and exclusive, the show was cancelled in 2019 after dwindling viewing figures and growing criticism. Even Bella told WWD that she ‘never felt powerful on a runway’ in her underwear—until Rihanna changed the game with her Savage x Fenty show.

The old Victoria's Secret brand wasn’t diverse, body positive, sex positive, empowering or aspirational. But as VS has begun publishing intelligent and open conversations, with Hailey Bieber about religion, Megan Rapinoe about addiction, Naomi Osaka about mental health, and Valentina Sampaio about gender identity, perhaps VS is making up for lost time and returning a voice to the women it silenced with years of treating them like Barbie dolls?

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