Gigi Hadid has come a long way since her runway debut at Desigual’s show in 2014. Today, the Palestinian-American model with mile-long legs, enviable curves, and a bombshell mane boasts an impressive fashion CV. Besides fronting high-profile campaigns, gracing the covers of numerous magazines, and closing runways for prestigious fashion houses, the 23-year-old has also become the poster girl for some of the most well-known brands in fashion, including Victoria’s Secret, Tommy Hilfiger, and Reebok. One of fashion’s most in-demand models, Hadid occasionally uses her platform to speak out about body positivity and in support of Palestine. Read on for five facts that you probably don’t know about Vogue Arabia’s March 2019 cover star.
Her real name is Jelena Noura Hadid. But she’s gone by Gigi since elementary school. Speaking to Vogue, the mega-model explained that when she was in grade school, “there was a girl named Helena and it got confusing with the teacher who had to call out our names, and so the teacher asked my mom, ‘If I needed to call Jelena a nickname, what would it be?’ And my mom was like, ‘I call her Gigi sometimes,’ and the name stuck.” Her mother, Dutch model and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Yolanda Foster, was also called Gigi by her family while growing up in the Netherlands.
She’s proud to be Palestinian. The 23-year-old model’s father Mohamed Hadid is a Palestinian refugee. In the past, she’s been very outspoken about her Arab identity and the impact it plays in her life. Speaking to Vogue Arabia recently, the model shared “Being half-Palestinian has enriched my life greatly. I think besides the obvious, like growing up around and loving Arab food and traditions, being Arab has influenced me to be open and loving of all backgrounds, realizing that being more of one thing doesn’t make you less of something else.” In addition to her Arab heritage, she has also acknowledged her Muslim identity. Last year, Hadid was photographed celebrating Eid with pop star Zayn Malik, and also marched the streets of New York protesting against US President Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim travel ban in 2017.
Her modeling career began at a very young age. She may have signed to IMG Models when she was 17-years-old, but Hadid’s career started well before then. She was discovered by Paul Marciano of Guess when she was only two-years-old and appeared on a number of Baby Guess and Guess Kids campaigns.
She’s starred in seven music videos. In 2016, Hadid sent the internet into a frenzy when she appeared in Zayn Malik’s visual for his single Pillowtalk, however that wasn’t the first time that the model starred in a music video. In fact, she’s appeared in a string of clips, including Cody Simpson’s “Surfboard” and “Simplethings”, as well as made a cameo in Taylor Swift’s celeb-filled “Bad Blood” as “Slay-Z”. She also co-directed and starred in “Cake by the Ocean” by Joe Jonas’s band, DNCE.
If she wasn’t a model, she’d probably be an athlete, or a psychologist Before she moved to New York to pursue modeling, Hadid’s original plan was to pursue a degree in criminology. The model, who recently shared with Vogue Arabia that she never put all her “eggs in the modeling basket,” is also an athlete. In fact, as a teenager, she put her modeling aside to focus on extracurricular activities, including horse-riding and volleyball. “Once I got a bit older, in third or fourth grade, I started to get just as passionate about volleyball and went on to play for my school teams. My parents put an importance on doing well in school and were always supportive of anything I wanted to try extracurricularly,” she revealed.