Gigi Hadid Writes About Milan Attack for Lena Dunham's Lenny Letter: "I Do Have That Fighter in Me"

21-year-old model opens up about self-defense

By Francesca Bacardi Sep 27, 2016 2:05 PMTags

Gigi Hadid wants to be an example for young women.

When Vitalii Sediuk, a man who has gained notoriety for physically accosting a handful of Hollywood's most famous figures on red carpets, including Will Smith, Bradley Cooper and Leonardo DiCaprio, picked up Gigi as she exited Milan's MaxMara show, the model immediately fought back. Gigi started elbowing Vitalii until he let her go and she nearly chased him down the street until her bodyguard stopped her.

Gigi's quick self-defense moves immediately earned her praise on social media from fellow celebs and fans, and now she's opening up about the scary experience in Lena Dunham's Lenny Letter. The 21-year-old model explains that what was happening didn't occur to her right away, but when she realized what was going on she channeled her instincts.

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"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 writes. "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."

As soon as news of Gigi's attack broke, she turned to Twitter to call out a reporter who headlined the story in an offensive way. In Lena's Lenny Letter, she addresses the issue again.

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"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...' That's when I really got pissed. First of all, it was a woman who wrote the story with that headline," she continues. "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?

"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."

Gigi tributes mom Yolanda Hadid for giving her the wherewithal to always pay attention in uncomfortable surroundings, so she wants to pay it forward to her fans. "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," she writes. "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."