Beauty and the Hadid’s: What’s New with Super Sisters Gigi and Bella?
By: Kameron Dreher/Arab America Contributing Writer
Gigi and Bella Hadid are probably two of the most popular supermodels on the scene right now. Garnering more than 52.1 million followers on Instagram and over 8 million on Twitter combined, the sisters have made their mark in the fashion/social media world. However, it seems few are aware of their ethnic background and familial ties to the Middle East.
Jolena ‘Gigi’ Noura Hadid and Isabella ‘Bella’ Khair Hadid are daughters of real estate mogul, Mohamed Hadid of Palestinian descent and Yolanda Hadid, a Dutch American television personality and former model. Hadid himself immigrated to the US at just the age of fourteen and was only eighteen months when he and his family were expelled from Palestine into Syrian refugee camps.
In a post written on Instagram, Hadid revealed his family has descended from the Nazareth district, noted for supporting inter-faith cooperation between Muslims, Christians, and Jews. He also mentioned that after sheltering a Jewish family, they were then kicked out of their home by the same family they offered protection, thus becoming refugees. Hadid and his family immigrated to Syria during the 1948 War, a catastrophe that left 800,000 Palestinians without a home or nation-state.
A young Mohamed Hadid with his family.
Gigi quickly silenced the haters by replying “Check out the last name, Hadid, Half Palestinian and proud of it.” She has also had to justify her ethnicity on other social media platforms on Twitter after a controversial picture appeared on Instagram of her and other celebrity friends at a popular mosque in UAE.
Both of the Hadid sisters have been unapologetic of their pride in their culture and where they come from. Younger sister, Bella Hadid, opened up about her religious background in an interview with Porter Magazine stating: “I’m a proud Muslim” and also commented on how her father’s Palestinian/religious views greatly impacted their lives while growing up. She says, “He was always religious, and he always prayed with us. I am proud to be a Muslim”. Earlier this year, Gigi Hadid appeared on the cover of Vogue Arabia donning the Islamic veil and was featured wearing a sequined headscarf in the spread. Gigi commented, “I think the beautiful thing about being international Vogues is that, as a fashion community, we are able to celebrate and share with the world different cultures.
Gigi Hadid in Vogue Arabia
Their father’s story and current social/political environment have motivated the Hadid sisters to march in the New York protest of Trumps Muslim ban in January. In an interview with Elle magazine, Bella Hadid said protesting the travel ban was imperative for her as a mixed race individual. “My dad was a refugee when he first came to America, so it’s actually very close to home for my sister, brother, and me,” she said referring to Donald Trump’s Muslim ban for several countries, including Syria. “We shouldn’t treat people as if they don’t deserve kindness just because of their ethnicity. It’s just not right.”
Just recently, about 3 weeks ago, Gigi Hadid, has also spoken out about prejudices against Muslims, commenting on a tweet made by a right-wing conservative who criticized women she saw wearing hijabs after the New York City attack.
Both sisters, Gigi and Bella have broadened the representation of Muslims and Arab-American women in the media. Their bold and proud vernacular on being half Palestinian has stood out and gotten them noticed. Even after experiencing accusations of cultural appropriation, they shatter the xenophobic attitudes that are directed at their culture and religion, expressing love, respect, and pride in their cultural roots.