Last week, model Gigi Hadid came under fire after “notorious prankster” Vitalii Sediuk grabbed her in the streets of Milan as she was exiting the Max Mara show. She fought back.
From there, the headlines began: “Not model behavior” and “Gigi gets violent.” But wasn’t Hadid merely defending herself? Immediately after the incident, Hadid took to Twitter to discuss her actions, saying she had “every right” to fight off her attacker and “how dare that idiot” think he has “the right to man-handle a complete stranger.” Even still, many were quick to judge her reaction, claiming Sediuk was known for being a prankster and had committed similar acts against other celebrities in the past –he’s also been credited with kissing Will Smith, accosting Leonardo DiCaprio, breaking Brad Pitt’s glasses and knocking over Kim Kardashian.
But as far as Hadid is concerned, whether Sediuk is a “notorious prankster” is not relevant. In a statement published in Lena Dunham’s newsletter, Lenny, on Sept. 27, Hadid once again spoke up for her actions.
“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 says.
Growing up she played sports like volleyball, but in the last two years, she began boxing.
“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.”
“Honestly, I felt I was in danger, and I had every right to react the way I did. 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. 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 then talks about the first headlines the surfaced and how they made her feel like she was wrong for defending herself.
“First of all, it was a woman who wrote the story with that headline. 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?”
She then talks about her mom’s reaction and how people on social media slowly have begun to stand up for her.
“My mom has taught me the power of my instincts since I was a kid. She’d always be like, ‘OK. Pay attention to the people who make you feel uncomfortable. I want you to tap into that and be aware of it.’ I continue to use that intuition with the fashion industry and the people who I have to be around. It usually guides me pretty well. I think it guided me in this situation, too.”
Lastly, she hopes the incident serves to show people that it’s okay to defend yourself.
“It sounds cliché to say it, but in the moment, it wasn’t heroic to me. It was just what I had to do.”
“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.”