DUBAI: Model-of-the-moment Gigi Hadid took to the stage at an event in Sydney last week to defend her heritage and express her “respect” for her Arab roots.
The 23-year-old model, whose father is Palestinian and mother is Dutch, made the fiery statement during a promotional appearance for Reebok’s “Be More Human” campaign.
“When I shot the cover of Vogue Arabia, I wasn’t ‘Arab enough’ to be representing those girls, even though I’m half-Palestinian,” Hadid told the crowd of her March 2017 cover for the magazine, according to Yahoo. “I’m as Palestinian as I am Dutch. Just because I have blonde hair, I still carry the value of my ancestors and I appreciate and respect that.”
The model also touched on her much-reported-on relationship with British singer Zayn Malik, saying the pair had discussed her background in the past.
“I was taking about this to my boyfriend too, he is half-Pakistani and half-English,” she said, according to the Daily Mail. “And there’s always this thing where you’re mixed race or you come from two different worlds. You see how both sides treat each other. And you become a bridge between both sides.”
Gigi isn’t the only Hadid sibling to talk publicly about the family’s roots.
In April 2017, her sister Bella opened up about their Palestinian father’s immigration experience and her embrace of Islam in an interview with Porter magazine.
The siblings’ father, Mohamed Hadid, lived in Syria and Lebanon before he moved to the US in his teens.
“My dad was a refugee when he first came to America,” Bella said in the interview.
“He was always religious and he always prayed with us. I am proud to be a Muslim,” she added.
In her latest appearance in Sydney, older sister Gigi also touched on the pressures of the competitive fashion industry.
“Regardless of who you are, or what you do, you always are allowed to give yourself room to screw up and learn and grow,” she said. “I’m a human and someone that can make mistakes,” she said. “But I can still learn and grow and be better.”