After an outpouring of both criticism (edit note: ugh) and support (edit note: that's more like it), Gigi Hadid is speaking out about being assaulted in Milan last week.
In a Lenny Letter interview with Lena Dunham, aggregated below, the supermodel speaks candidly about why she reacted to Vitalii Sediuk's attack with an elbow to the face, and makes an appeal for *all* women to protect themselves.
Gigi's instincts kicked in immediately.
"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.' 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."
She wants other women to learn how to defend themselves. (In other words, this could happen to you.)
"Honestly, I felt I was in danger, and I had every right to react the way I did. 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."
By the way, her "not model behavior" is the exact kind of behavior we'd love to see more of.
"The first article that was posted about the incident was headlined: 'Not model behavior. Gigi aggressively lashes out and elbows fan in the face after he tries to pick her up. The supermodel angrily hit an unknown man before running to her car.' That's when I really got pissed. First of all, 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? What would you have told your daughter to do in that situation?"
Speaking of mothers and daughters, Gigi's mom (model Yolanda Foster) had her back.
"When my mom first saw what had happened, she texted me the picture of me elbowing the guy and (among other messages of support) said, 'Good girl.' My mom has taught me the power of my instincts since I was a kid. She'd always be like, 'Okay. Pay attention to the people who make you feel uncomfortable. I want you to tap into that and be aware of it.' I continue to use that intuition with the fashion industry and the people who I have to be around. It usually guides me pretty well. I think it guided me in this situation, too."
Don't call her a hero. She's just her very own knight in shining armor.
"It sounds cliché to say it, but in the moment, it wasn't heroic to me. It was just what I had to do. It's very touching to me that people see it that way. I know people are put in much worse situations every day and don't have the cameras around that provoke social-media support. 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."
Read Gigi Hadid's thoughts in their entirety here.