It was 2017, and a young woman was getting all dolled up for a glamorous photoshoot. The striking female was also being interviewed by the upmarket fashion and beauty magazine Harper’s Bazaar. The person in question was Gigi Hadid, the famous American supermodel. And in the interview she would reveal all about the dark side of her fame.
Hadid is one of the world’s best-known fashion models. The 5’10” Californian has modeled for the likes of Tommy Hilfiger, sportswear brand Reebok and cosmetics giant Maybelline in her career so far. The blonde beauty is also one of the industry’s highest-earning models, raking in an estimated $9.3 million in 2018 alone.
But as she revealed to Harper’s Bazaar in 2017 and has addressed elsewhere, her astronomical success has come at quite a cost. Indeed, it turns out being one of the world’s best-paid models is not quite as easy as it may sound. In fact, it has brought considerable sadness and darkness into Hadid’s life.
Like many big-name celebrities, Hadid has had to learn to deal with a disorientating level of fame. Her ever-growing celebrity has led to an intensified scrutiny on her life, including hurtful criticism both online and in the written media. Her high-profile relationships have also ensured a considerable interest in her private life.
Indeed, Hadid has been linked to the likes of model Tyler Cameron, both of the pop star brothers Joe and Nick Jonas, and – most famously – One Direction singer Zayn Malik. But besides all the regular downsides of fame just touched on, the model has also discovered something else entirely upon becoming a celebrity. What Hadid has found out in her ascent to the top of the modeling profession is arguably more upsetting.
So, what exactly is it that Hadid has learned? What dark truth about her fame did she let slip in her interview with Harper’s Bazaar in 2017? Well, we’ll get the full story of that a little later. Firstly, though, we should take a look at the meteoric rise of Hadid and her early life and family.
Hadid entered the world on April, 23 1995. Her birth name was actually Jelena Noura Hadid, with ‘Gigi’ (the name by which she is widely known today) being an affectionate nickname she picked up. Hadid’s place of birth was Los Angeles, California. She grew up in the Sunshine State, being raised primarily in Santa Barbara.
Hadid was the first to arrive of the three children conceived by Yolanda (née van den Herik) and Mohamed Hadid. Her younger sister Isabella ‘Bella’ Hadid arrived a year later in October 1996, and their brother Mohamed Anwar arrived in June 1999. Both her younger siblings have followed Hadid into modeling.
Hadid’s lineage is a complex web of different nationalities and cultures. Her father Mohamed is a Palestinian-American, who was born in Nazareth, Palestine (now part of Israel) in 1948. He has earned his living primarily in property development since moving to the United States. Mohamed initiated the building of numerous lavish hotels and mansions in Los Angeles and its affluent Beverly Hills and Bel Air neighborhoods. Interestingly, he also competed for Jordan in the 1992 Winter Olympics.
Hadid’s mother Yolanda was born in Papendrecht in the Netherlands on January 11, 1964. That small farming town lies in the western part of the small European country, about 18km from Rotterdam. Natural beauty Yolanda was discovered by renowned agent Eileen Ford when she was just 16, and left her native country to become an international model.
Yolanda worked all across the world, including the fashion capitals of Milan, Paris and New York. She eventually settled in the U.S. after meeting Mohamed Hadid, and took the time out to have her three children. They would divorce, however, in 2000 and Yolanda would later wed songwriter David Foster before making the transition to reality TV and interior designing. Clearly, though, Hadid and her siblings inherited their mother’s good looks and talent for striking a pose.
Indeed, Hadid was practically born to do it. She would get a very early start in modeling, one that was in truth greatly assisted by her family’s connections. Yes, her parent’s pal selected Hadid for a baby campaign for his fashion brand when she was barely out of nappies. She told Vanity Fair magazine in 2014: “I was discovered by Paul Marciano, of Guess, when I was actually, like, two years old.”
However, after taking part in a number of Guess campaigns, the young Hadid decided to halt her modeling career and concentrate on both her schoolwork and her considerable volleyball and horse-riding talents. “I started with Baby Guess; I did Guess Kids, and then I stopped because I was a really competitive horseback rider, and a club volleyball player,” she revealed to Vanity Fair.
Ultimately Hadid had decided she wanted something resembling an ordinary childhood. She attended Malibu High School, and whilst there she would impressively make the Junior Olympic qualifiers for volleyball. The Californian would go on to graduate in 2013, but by 2011 she had already picked her modeling career back up.
When she reached 17 years of age, Hadid signed with the renowned modeling agency IMG. Her mom had blocked her from doing so until she had reached that age. A year later the teenager fronted a major campaign for Guess; her inexorable rise to the top of the modeling world had essentially begun in earnest.
After graduating Malibu High School in 2013, Hadid moved to the East Coast and the bright lights of New York City, where she began studying at the New School and continued with her modeling work. In the end, Hadid ultimately decided to drop out of her criminal psychology course at the private university and chase her modeling dream with all she had.
Nevertheless, she would achieve what was seen as her major career breakthrough before she had dropped out. Hadid was selected to stride the catwalk for Desigual at New York Fashion Week in February 2014. She must have made quite an impression, as soon after she made the cover of the prestigious CR Fashion Book that spring and was then selected for Tom Ford’s autumn/winter Eyewear campaign, in which she posed alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger’s son Patrick.
It was a breakout year for Hadid, who had only turned 19 in April of 2014.It was a breakout year for Hadid, who had only turned 19 in April 2014. Her profile was raised further when, clad in black leather, she appeared in the extravagant music video for pop megastar Taylor Swift’s song “Bad Blood.” Hadid would make further appearances in music videos for artists such as Calvin Harris, the Jonas Brothers and Miguel.
Hadid had become more widely known to U.S. audiences due to her TV cameos on Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Hadid made appearances on the reality show by virtue of her mother, Yolanda, who was one of the series’ main stars. The screen exposure would come in handy later on, when she would appear on the likes of RuPaul’s Drag Race and Lip Sync Battle and make her film debut.
In the first month of 2015 she achieved another major career boost, when cosmetics company Maybelline appointed Hadid as its brand ambassador. She would also appear in the Sports Illustrated magazine’s famous swimsuit edition that year, increasing her status as a sex symbol. Then in December of that year, she achieved something of which most models can only dream.
Indeed, after her two previous audition attempts had been ultimately fluffed through excessive nerves, Hadid finally made it into the coveted Victoria’s Secret fashion show. She was now in an elite group of models to have been selected to appear on the catwalk at the worldwide event. This roster of luminaries includes the likes of Gisele Bundchen, Alessandra Ambrosio, Adriana Lima, Candice Swanepoel and Karlie Kloss. Hadid was in the supermodel big league.
The Los Angeles-born model would take part in the next Victoria’s Secret shindig a year later – along with her sister Bella – at which point she was awarded the lingerie brand’s famous ‘Angel’ wings. Of course, as previously mentioned, there was major interest by this point in who she was dating. Glossy magazines and gossipy websites in particular. seemed to have an especially strong appetite in her on/off relationship with British pop star Malik.
The pair first met at a Victoria’s Secret party in New York, with the blonde beauty catching the eye of the One Direction star. Malik stumped up the courage to ask her to go on a date with him at The Bowery Hotel’s swanky Gemma restaurant. Hadid said yes, and the romantically involved pair then teamed up for the music video for Malik’s single “Pillow Talk” before taking part in a joint Vogue cover in April.
The year 2016 also saw her become the face of Tommy Hilfiger and saunter down the runway for the likes of Chanel, Miu Miu, Versace and Balmain. It was another busy year, and in November Hadid co-hosted the American Music Awards with Saturday Night Live’s Jay Pharaoh. She also brought out a boot collection in collaboration with designer Stuart Weitzman and was named International Model of the Year at the British Fashion Awards.
Everything seemed to be going perfectly for Hadid. She was one of the world’s best-paid and most-acclaimed models. She was the envy of thousands – or perhaps millions – of females across the world due to her romance with Malik. But then in 2017, Hadid would surprisingly open up about the dark side of her fame to Harper’s Bazaar.
Indeed, Hadid waxed lyrical about some of the disheartening things that she had unfortunately discovered upon becoming famous. One of those things was her friends. Or perhaps, given the diatribe into which Hadid launched in the interview with the glossy New York-based publication, we should say her “so-called friends.”
Hadid revealed that, due to their suspect behaviour, she felt she had little choice but to cut some of those former pals out of her life for good. Ultimately, she decided, they had been unable to come to terms with the high-flying nature of her chosen career. So, it was time to get rid.
“A lot of interesting things in friends come out [when you become a high-profile celebrity],” argued Hadid. But what she discovered was a type of learning curve for her. “In a way, it’s good because you learn that it’s better to have a few really good friends than tons of friends you aren’t really sure about,” she added.
If these friends weren’t willing to cut Hadid some slack, and take the time to fully comprehend the demands of her career, it seemed to be a deal-breaker for her. “There are people who understand that I love them and who know that when I get back to town I’m going to call them, but sometimes I can’t call every day because I’m in weird places,” she told Harper’s Bazaar.
The long hours and flights around the globe for photoshoots or fashion shows certainly don’t make it easy for Hadid to constantly be in touch. Essentially, needy companions don’t fit her fast-paced, jetset lifestyle. “I’ve lost a lot of friends because I’ll get busy for a short period of time, and they’re not reaching out, but if I don’t reach out, then it’s like I’ve changed,” she lamented.
Hadid also revealed to Harper’s Bazaar that it is unlikely that she’ll ever come to terms with the attention of the paparazzi. “I understand that it comes with the territory, but it’s also very intense to always have to consider,” she told the magazine. “I don’t think it will ever be normal, and if people ever feel like it’s normal, then that’s weird,” she concluded.
Despite the success, personal wealth and celebrity status she had acquired through her career, Hadid strongly hinted to Harper’s Bazaar how much she misses the anonymity of her life pre-fame. “It’s cool to be in a place like Florida,” she said. “I appreciate the times when I can just walk down the street for five minutes because people don’t know I’m there yet.”
Indeed, her wish not to be noticed is likely heightened by the not-erroneous belief that she is constantly being snapped, either by paparazzi or her own fans. In fact, Hadid gave some advice for any fans wishing to have a photographic memento of her: ask! “I’d rather have a conversation with a person and have it feel normal for both of us,” she remarked. “It’s stressful for me too if, like, it’s awkward – you know what I mean?”
However, two years later, in an interview with Variety magazine, Hadid went further with her denunciation of the dark side of fame. Overcome with emotion, she lamented the negative effect it had exerted on her life and confidence in the April 2019 interview. Firstly, though, she acknowledged she was lucky to have achieved and experienced all that she had done so far.
She told Variety, “I always wanted success for myself. I wanted to support myself. I wanted to get to a place where I could have creative freedom and start to have more power to shape my life.” She added, “Fame is something that I deal with and learn about every day.”
Then came the tearful confession. “I’ve had my ups and downs with it [fame] for sure, because overall, it’s definitely a learning process,” she stated. “I’ve learned a lot about myself because of it. I’ve learned to be honest with myself and celebrate myself, protect myself, be assertive when I need to,” she added.
Fighting back tears, Hadid went on, “I always want to be kind, but that doesn’t mean I need to let people take advantage of me. I’ve learned my connection with the earth, going to places where I can be myself and not worry about being photographed. Although in moments I’ve resented it [fame], I think that overall, I wouldn’t be as developed within myself without it,” she concluded.
Despite saying that “fame makes you feel out of control of your life,” Hadid can at least be consoled by the fact that her particular line of work and celebrity status has helped her acquire some loyal – and well-known – friends. Hadid’s besties include her little sis Bella, fellow models Kendall Jenner, Cara Delevingne and Hailey Bieber, and, last but not least, a certain Taylor Swift.
Indeed, Swift has gone out of her way several times just to say how highly she values Hadid as a friend. “Gigi is one of the first people I go to for advice,” she wrote in a published email. “She has this incredible ability to see all sides of a situation and simplify it for you, to see the complexity of people,” she added.
Swift continued, “Gigi’s number-one rule is to treat people the way she’d want to be treated, so she’s on time (or early) to work, says hello to everyone on set, asks them how they are, and actually listens to their response.” It is heartening then, as Hadid attempts to navigate this thing called fame, that she has the support of her nearest and dearest to fall back on. Furthermore, after reuniting with Malik in early 2020, the news arrived in April this year that she was pregnant with his child. Clearly, then, the darker side of fame is not going to stop the unstoppable Gigi Hadid from living out her dreams.