Bella Hadid has been in the spotlight for a decade after beginning her own modeling career in 2012. Now, she's opening up about the reality of what those years in the public eye have been like for her personally and how she's struggled in private.
In an interview with Vogue the 25-year-old got candid about facing mental health issues and struggling with body image throughout her time in front of the camera. She even admitted to being a people pleaser and feeling the need to prove herself after following in the footsteps of her older sister, Gigi.
"I was the uglier sister. I was the brunette. I wasn’t as cool as Gigi, not as outgoing," Bella says recalling opinions shared of the sisters. "That’s really what people said about me. And unfortunately when you get told things so many times, you do just believe it. I always ask myself, how did a girl with incredible insecurities, anxiety, depression, body-image issues, eating issues, who hates to be touched, who has intense social anxiety — what was I doing getting into this business? But over the years I became a good actress."
Bella explained that people seem to have a perception of her as a "mean, scary dragon lady, or some kind of sexbot," when in reality, her public demeanor is a sort of protection for her.
"I put on a very smiley face, or a very strong face. I always felt like I had something to prove," she said. "People can say anything about how I look, about how I talk, about how I act. But in seven years I never missed a job, canceled a job, was late to a job. No one can ever say that I don’t work my ass off."
While Bella's sentiment comes within the same week that Kim Kardashian was criticized for advising women to "Get your f***ing ass up and work," Bella made sure to acknowledge where she started as a daughter of supermodel Yolanda Hadid and real estate developer Mohamed Hadid.
"It’s not to say that I didn’t have a very privileged upbringing," Bella admitted. "But my parents are immigrants who came here and worked for everything they had. I always knew the value of a dollar."
In fact, making work a priority in her life is what brought Bella to her lowest mental state.
"For three years while I was working, I would wake up every morning hysterical, in tears, alone," she confessed. "I wouldn’t show anybody that. I would go to work, cry at lunch in my little greenroom, finish my day, go to whatever random little hotel I was in for the night, cry again, wake up in the morning, and do the same thing."
The model had also been suffering from health issues, including Lyme disease, and said she was driven to anorexia when she was prescribed Adderall for symptoms of adrenal fatigue that were misdiagnosed as ADHD. The appetite-suppressant effect of the medication led her down a dangerous path.
"I was on this calorie-counting app, which was like the devil to me," she recalled. "I’d pack my little lunch with my three raspberries, my celery stick. I was just trying, I realize now, to feel in control of myself when I felt so out of control of everything else."
She added, "I can barely look in the mirror to this day because of that period in my life."
Bella has faced accusations of having multiple cosmetic procedures done, which she denied in the piece, which has also impacted her mental health and body image.
"People think I fully f***ed with my face because of one picture of me as a teenager looking puffy. I’m pretty sure you don’t look the same now as you did at 13, right? I have never used filler. Let’s just put an end to that. I have no issue with it, but it’s not for me. Whoever thinks I’ve gotten my eyes lifted or whatever it’s called — it’s face tape! The oldest trick in the book," she said.
A nose job at 14 is all Bella said she's had done, and since regrets. "I wish I had kept the nose of my ancestors," she admitted. "I think I would have grown into it."
The dichotomy of who Bella is perceived to be by the public and who she knows herself to be ultimately has caused unsettling feelings. "I’ve had this impostor syndrome where people made me feel like I didn’t deserve any of this. People always have something to say, but what I have to say is, I’ve always been misunderstood in my industry and by the people around me."
By opening up about her struggles, the model seems to be working to undo that. But most importantly, she's keeping herself as the priority.
"To have to wake up every morning with this brain—it’s not cute," she said. "So now everything that I do in my personal life is literally to make sure that my mental state stays above water. Fashion can make you or break you. And if it makes you, you have to make a conscious effort every day for it not to break you. There’s alway a bit of grief in love."
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