Gigi Hadid on Her Milan Attack: ‘I Do Have the Fighter in Me’

Gigi Hadid
Gigi Hadid recounted getting assaulted at Milan Fashion Week to Lenny Letter in order to explain the importance of self-defense.

Badass to the core! Gigi Hadid was assaulted by a total stranger after Max Mara’s Milan Fashion Week show in Italy on Thursday, September 22, and she fought back like the fierce kickboxing fiend she is. Now she’s describing the experience in her own words.

“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,'” Hadid, 21, shared in Lena Dunham‘s latest Lenny Letter. “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.”

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While countless admirers applauded the Maybelline brand ambassador’s swift reaction, Hadid pointed out that not everyone was so impressed with the karatelike quickness she aimed at assailant Vitali Sediuk. “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,” she said. “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?”

One person who was extremely proud? Her mom, Yolanda Foster. “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,'” Hadid told Lenny.

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The Tommy Hilfiger guest designer said that while she didn’t find her actions “heroic” in the moment, “It’s very touching to me that people see it that way.” More important, she hopes that the experience inspires other girls to be ready to fight back. “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,” she shared. “Confidence in your own ability to defend yourself comes with educating yourself about it and is a massive advantage when in an unsafe situation.”

Hadid added, “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.”

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