I am so enraged for Gigi Hadid in this entire situation — and on behalf of women everywhere who are forced to put up with this kind of BS every day — that it's incredible I am even able to react to this in a coherent manner. To start, Hadid was attacked by a man Wednesday in Milan. He grabbed the model from behind and lifted her up off the ground as she was leaving a fashion show and making her way through a gaggle of paparazzi. Of course, Hadid's immediate reaction was to fight back against her attacker, kicking and elbowing him and attempting to wrestle herself out of his grip. She screamed, "Get off of me! Who the f*ck are you? You piece of sh*t!" at the man, who was later identified as frequent celebrity "prankster" Vitalii Sediuk — he's made an entire "career" out of making headlines for frequently pulling off such grotesque antics as punching Brad Pitt in the face, looking up America Ferrera's skirt, and attempting to kiss Will Smith. Needless to say, Hadid's reaction to being ambushed in this completely inappropriate and frankly terrifying violation of her privacy was entirely valid. It should not, and does not, need any justification.
Sediuk has taken responsibility for the incident, telling The Hollywood Reporter,
"While I consider Gigi Hadid beautiful, she and her friend Kendall Jenner have nothing to do with high fashion. By doing this, I encourage the fashion industry to put true talents on the runway and Vogue covers instead of well-connected cute girls from Instagram. You can call it a manifest or a protest. This is also a wake-up call for Anna Wintour, who turned Vogue into a tabloid by putting Kardashians and other similar celebrities on a cover of a well-respected magazine."
Sediuk shared a similar statement on his Instagram page. THR also asked Sediuk how he responds to people who call this "nothing more than an assault on a woman" and he responded, "Don't be over-dramatic."
Aside from the incident itself, we still live in a world where Hadid was forced to defend herself against a sexist tabloid headline that framed the attack as the model herself behaving inappropriately and "lashing out" against a "fan." Hadid responded to that headline with some real effing truths about the situation. If there was ever a time to use the internet's favored phrase "SAY IT LOUDER FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK," it is now.
Women live in a society in which it is the norm to be harassed, threatened, and intimidated by men on the street. It is a daily. Effing. Occurrence. It's so "normal" that every woman I know living in a big city like New York (myself included), has a go-to response for being catcalled. But let me be clear: Every time something like this happens — and particularly something of the caliber of Sediuk's attack on Hadid, in which he physically grabbed her — it is a woman's right to defend herself.
And for a media outlet to frame this in any other way (the headline in question is "Not model behaviour: Gigi Hadid aggressively lashes out and ELBOWS fan in the face after he tries to pick her up" from The Sun ) is not only absolutely deplorable, but also perpetuates victim-blaming. (Bustle has reached out to The Sun for comment, but has not yet heard back.) Framing Hadid as the villain (how cruel she must be for assaulting a fan!) not only completely ignores the reality of what actually happened, but also paints her actual attacker as the victim. I don't think I need to spell out just how dangerous this way of thinking can be.
Just three months ago, 22-year-old singer Christina Grimmie was shot and killed by an unstable fan. For 21-year-old Hadid, an incredibly successful and well-known supermodel and "it girl" at the height of her career, this is a threat that is all too real. So for a man to grab her from behind and physically lift her off the ground must have been a moment of pure terror. Media outlets and people everywhere should be applauding Hadid for kicking and elbowing her way out of her attacker's grasp — not vilifying her for "lashing out" against a man who should be labeled as a threat way before he is ever labeled as a "fan."
So hats off to you, Gigi Hadid, for not only defending yourself against your attacker, but also taking a stand against sexist reporting — and making this a conversation that everyone should be having today.