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Gigi Hadid – Autumn/Winter 2016
Silk coat dress Hillier Bartley, striped wool tights Marc Jacobs AW16, diamond hoop earring David Morris, leather sequinned boots Marc Jacobs Resort 2017Photography Rankin, fashion Katie Grand

Gigi discusses her Milan attack with Lena Dunham

‘I had every right to react the way I did... I want girls to see the video and know that they have the right to fight back, too, if put in a similar situation’

You may remember that last week Gigi Hadid was grabbed by a man, who has since been identified as Ukrainian TV personality and prankster Vitalii Sediuk, as she left the Max Mara show. Hadid resisted though and fought back, an act she was later criticised for in the press – The Sun wrote, “NOT MODEL BEHAVIOUR: Gigi Hadid aggressively lashes out and ELBOWS fan in the FACE after he tries to pick her up.” Now, in Lena Dunham’s email newsletter Lenny, Hadid has voiced her thoughts on the incident.

“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. “I played volleyball, and my coaches talked about muscle memory. I started boxing two years ago and I always remembered that. Since then, 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.”

“I felt I was in danger, and I had every right to react the way I did” – Gigi Hadid

“Honestly, I felt I was in danger, and I had every right to react the way I did,” she continues. “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.”

While The Sun labelled Hadid’s response as “not model behaviour”, it was actually exemplary for the millions of the model’s female fans and social media followers: if a man attacks you, you are perfectly within your right to fight back / elbow him in the face like she did. As Dunham writes, “in one swift movement, without the aid of her bodyguards, Gigi makes it clear that she will not be made to feel like anyone’s property.”

Head here to read Gigi Hadid’s full response, and here to read her discussing modelling, integrity and growing up with Lila Moss Hack and Stella Jones.