On bad weeks, the internet can read like a laundry list of shit that women have to put up with. On Monday night, women across the world got to watch a former secretary of State deploy the face we use when an obnoxious dude won’t stop talking to us at a party. And on Tuesday, Gigi Hadid spoke to Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter about a recent, well-publicized incident in which she was labelled unfriendly for fighting back when a strange man attempted to physically pick her up on the street.
During Milan fashion week, the noted Color Me Mine enthusiast was leaving a Max Mara show when a male human grabbed her and immobilized her limbs. Viral video footage shows Gigi ripping her elbow free and fighting off the ambush before climbing into her car and heading for safety. “Who the fuck are you?” Hadid reportedly told the attacker. “You piece of shit.”
The news quickly broke that Hadid’s attacker was parasitic prankster Vitalii Sediuk, who has pushed his way onto red carpets in the past to kiss Will Smith and bury his head in Brad Pitt’s pants. Sediuk proudly confirmed his assault, saying, “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,” Sediuk told The Hollywood Reporter. “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.” Oh look, a man with an opinion!
Everyone has the right to be a ’90s supermodel stan with a Hadid-sized chip on their shoulder—only God, and Tyra Banks, can judge you. But at the end of the day, Hadid is a hardworking, experienced model, and Vitalii Sediuk is a 27-year-old Ukrainian man whose Wikipedia page lists his occupation as “Celebrity Harasser.” If there’s one terrible trend of 2016—don’t worry, there are a lot more than one—it’s overconfident dudes lecturing women on subjects they know nothing about. If it’s not a tax-evading reality-TV show host telling a secretary of State that she doesn’t have the stamina for politics, it’s a professional prankster mansplaining “high fashion” to Gigi Hadid.
Adding insult to injury, as Hadid points out in her Lenny Letter tell-all, the tabloid media’s initial response left a lot to be desired. The Sun titled its article covering the altercation, “Not Model Behavior: Gigi Hadid aggressively lashes out and ELBOWS fan in the FACE after he tries to pick her up.” Hadid quickly tweeted a response to the offensively worded coverage, declaring, “I’m a HUMAN BEING—and had EVERY RIGHT to defend myself.”
As Hadid told Dunham, “That’s when I got really pissed.” “First of all,” she continues, “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?” Hadid went on to emphasize that she wants to inspire women and girls to trust their instincts, practice self-defense, and fight back. The model, who says she started boxing two years ago, doesn’t want her killer hook to be mistaken for heroism: “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.” She concludes, “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.”