In her most recent cover story for Vogue Australia, Gigi Hadid discussed her privilege and the white guilt that comes along with that.
To be fair, Gigi is technically only half white (her father is Palestinian), but that doesn’t mean she is without white privilege. She told the magazine,
“I know I come from privilege, so when I started there was this big guilt of privilege, obviously. I’ve always had this big work ethic because my parents came from nothing and I worked hard to honor them.”
“There are so many girls who come [from] all over the world and work their arses off and send money home to their families like my mother did, and I wanted to stand next to them backstage and for them to look at me and respect me and to know that it’s never about me trying to overshadow or take their place. So when I started out I wanted to prove myself so badly that sometimes I would overwork myself.”
I totally understand her desire to work harder to alleviate her guilt, to make herself feel like she had truly earned her success. But it’s one thing to admit to your privilege and a whole other thing to do something about it.
I realize that Gigi cannot control the family she was born into, or the money she grew up with. But what she can do is use her privilege and her platform to help others through charity, activism, and outreach work.
It would be so easy for her to go visit children in the hospital, to spend her time at a soup kitchen, or even better, to go to Puerto Rico and help with disaster relief like Bethenny Frankel.
The girl has 41M followers — could you imagine how many young people she could influence with just a single photo?
It’s increasingly frustrating because this has become the generation of activists. Celebs like Demi Lovato and Rihanna are constantly traveling around the world to help out those less fortunate. Rihanna has even started the Clara Lionel Foundation, which helps give young people access to education.
So to know that Gigi Hadid can do amazing work, that she knows she comes from privilege but chooses not to? It’s just unfathomable.
I realize that not everyone is a natural activist, but there is a way for Gigi to get involved, be true to herself, and still be on-brand.
A while ago, she walked with her sister Bella at a protest to oppose the Muslim ban. And while that issue is currently out of the limelight, Islamophobia is still very real in this country. It would be so easy for her to post little videos on Instagram to debunk myths and hatred.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Gigi Hadid has an amazing platform to reach so many young women. And yet, she constantly chooses to keep her social media superficial and her interviews surface-level. And if you want to be an A-lister these days, having a pretty face just isn’t enough anymore.
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Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, and Tiger Beat. Her favorite Housewife is Bethenny Frankel (by far!), but when she’s not watching RHONY, you can probably find her hanging with her kitty Tom or tweeting at Sen. Chuck Schumer.