“I never let them work [as models] before they were 18,” the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills alum, 53, told Elle at the Front Row Fashion Awards on Sunday, April 2. “I didn’t want anybody judging them on what they looked like. I wanted them to feel and be the authentic human beings that they are, and I think that created a lot of strength for them.”
Never say never, though. Before becoming the It Girl she is today, Gigi, now 21, started modeling at age 2 with Baby Guess. Gigi temporarily quit the business when Yolanda, a former model herself, worried that her oldest child wasn’t experiencing a normal upbringing. Gigi reunited with Guess in 2012, when she became the face of the brand’s campaign that year. In 2013, Gigi signed with IMG Models and made her New York Fashion Week debut in February 2014, two months before turning 18.
Bella, now 20, signed with the same modeling agency later that year — just a month and a half shy of her 18th birthday — and first appeared on a New York Fashion Week runway that fall. Her brother Anwar, 17, became the final Hadid sibling to join IMG when he inked a deal with the firm last year.
Still, Yolanda claims she taught her daughters to be humble and not focus on their looks. “I always said to them, ‘Listen, there are thousands of girls that are much more beautiful than you girls, but you have an extraordinary character, and you’re going to have to set yourself apart by being a role model, by showing up on time and being kind to everybody … to the light people, the make-up, the cleaner in the back of the studio,’” she continued to Elle. “Those are the people that you have to connect with, and that’s how you can make a difference in the world.”
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