The Untold Truth Of Gigi Hadid

Diligent, down-to-earth, and gorgeous ... these are some of the adjectives that fans would agree aptly describe Gigi Hadid. While the star's undeniable modeling prowess may fool one into thinking she has a diva-sized ego, she exudes a welcoming vibe and is said to be incredibly humble. Born to former TV personality and model Yolanda Hadid and real estate developer Mohamed Hadid, Gigi's success is no coincidence. Gigi, who gracefully rose to the ranks of mainstream fame, started strong at a young age to make an undeniable mark in the modeling industry.

Magazines and brands do not seem to get enough of her ethereal beauty now, but we would not know Gigi as she is today if it was not for her mom, whom she considers to be one of her first mentors. Yolanda let her daughter's creativity foster from an early age, and the resultant product was one fiercely independent and brave woman who takes life by the reigns. "And that wasn't just in the industry — she always allowed me to be creative growing up, she had such a positive impact and always encouraged me to express myself in any way, whether that was cooking, drawing, trying to learn how to sew or letting me use and break her cameras," Gigi told i-D of her mother's influence.

Social media is a window to Gigi Hadid's fabulous life, but the visual field can only be so expansive in a carefully curated feed. There is much more to unravel about the twenty-something model.

Her actual name is not Gigi

If you were to put a face to the name Gigi, it would be Gigi Hadid's. This might come as a surprise, but the ubiquitous model's moniker is not her actual first name. Born on April 23, 1995, the Taurean's given name is Jelena Noura Hadid. In a 2015 interview with Vogue, the cover girl revealed how the name Gigi came about because of a simple confusion when she was a schoolgirl.

When Gigi was in primary school, there was a student named Helena in her class, so to avoid any mix-ups, her teacher decided to call the future model by a nickname. "And so the teacher asked my mom, 'If I needed to call Jelena a nickname, what would it be?' And my mom was like, 'I call her Gigi sometimes,' and the name stuck," Hadid told Vogue. Thanks to Helena, we now know Jelena as Gigi, and she will probably always be that to her fans. Interestingly, Gigi is actually an heirloom name — it was mom Yolanda Hadid's nickname when she was little, and Nameberry suggests the name Gigi originated in France.

She sometimes feels a struggle to fit in due to her mixed race

Gigi Hadid was born in Los Angeles and spent most of her childhood on a ranch in Santa Barbara, California. Her father, Mohamed Hadid, is Palestinian Jordanian and her mother, Yolanda Hadid, is Dutch. Gigi has been vocal about proudly embracing her multiethnic heritage

As a mother to a mixed-race child, she and her previous partner, Zayn Malik, often discuss this in their approach to co-parenthood. The former couple welcomed their daughter, Khai Hadid Malik, in September 2020. For his part, the British One Direction alum was born to his Pakistani Muslim father, Yaser Malik, and his mother, Trisha Malik (née Brannan), who is of English and Irish descent. Due to their shared experience as first-generation kids, Gigi realizes she has important role in her child's life as the bridge between multiple cultures and has noted that Khai will most likely grow up having conversations about being a cultural bridge herself.

The model's love for her heritage runs deep, but while talking about her parenthood approach to i-D in June 2021, Gigi also touched upon how she is occasionally "made to feel ... too white" to support her Arab heritage. "Is what I am, or what I have, enough to do what I feel is right?" she'll question herself when feeling out of place. "But then, also, is that taking advantage of the privilege of having the whiteness within me, right? Am I allowed to speak for this side of me, or is that speaking on something that I don't experience enough to know?"

Her modeling career began when she was a toddler

Before she even learned to string words together to create meaningful sentences, Gigi Hadid was modeling for a hip fashion brand. After being "discovered" by Guess co-founder Paul Marciano, per an interview with Vanity Fair, she landed her first modeling gig and posed for Guess Kids. In 2020, she made the world collectively go, "Aww!" with a totally adorable throwback picture from the campaign, as captured by Allure. Taking to her Instagram Stories, the model shared a black-and-white shot of her two-year-old self posing in a denim jacket and white overalls.

Her famous model mother still remembers how brands wanted to do photoshoots with young Gigi. "I let her model a little bit until she was 8 or 9 years old, and then I completely pulled her away until she was 17," Yolanda Hadid told Glamour in 2015, explaining, "I always had a very strong sense that I wanted both my girls to develop as real people and who they are individually as women, rather than being judged on their [looks]." Yolanda also realized early on that she wanted Gigi and her sister, Bella Hadid, to be grounded and have a normal childhood: "I think that if you don't allow your children to work at an early age and there is no camera at them, then they are just freely growing up." 

For her part, Gigi is grateful to her mom for not letting her be a working model before her late teens, as she thinks the experience would have been too intimidating.

Gigi Hadid has hit back at that nepotism baby criticism

Gigi Hadid may have been born into a privileged life, but that did not keep her from working hard to make a name for herself. If anything, her parents' success motivated her own work ethic. To her, watching them while growing up was like having a constant source of inspiration. Per the Daily Mail, Hadid vocalized her frustration towards those who criticize her upbringing and use it to claim she does not deserve what she's achieved in the modeling industry during a 2018 Reebok event: "My dad was a refugee, my mum was on a farm, went to New York, and worked to send money back to her family. They worked their a**es off and they've given me a life because of their hard work, and I work hard to honor that."

It should be noted that Hadid's supermodel status didn't fully come to her by being the daughter of a successful model. She's had to face many rejections in life — including when she first auditioned to model for Victoria's Secret. In fact, she had to audition twice before her dream of being an angel came true, but she remained patient and level-headed. "I got in there and I freaked out," Hadid shared with Vogue. "I was so nervous, and I think that how nervous I was came out as shy. Obviously, in the show, you just have to bring it. Clearly I wasn't ready to do that if I was so nervous doing just the casting."

She's made her own millions

Gigi Hadid's lavish jet-set lifestyle is funded by her hard-earned money from endless modeling gigs, brand deals, and what not. Celebrity Net Worth estimates her net worth to be $29 million, at the time of this writing. According to her real estate mogul dad, Mohamed Hadid, she's apparently never taken money from her parents, not even a dollar

She has been making bank ever since her modeling career took off, and by 2018, Forbes listed her as one of the world's highest-paid models with an annual income of $9.5 million. The same year, the stunner also appeared on her 35th Vogue cover internationally. As of this writing, model Lauren Hutton holds the record of most Vogue covers, having nabbed the coveted spot on a whopping 40 issues. Despite being close to breaking Hutton's record, that isn't necessarily a priority for Gigi. In 2021, the model told i-D that she doesn't feel the need to be a cover girl anymore: "I would rather leave that to a new face, someone for whom it would really change their life or career at this point." 

After having all her fashion dreams come true, Gigi is itching for a career change and revealed she was channeling her creativity to breathe life into design ideas for her own brand. "Now that I'm a mom, I love the idea of going to the same office or studio or whatever that is multiple days a week, with the same crew, the same people, maybe a little playroom that I can make for Khai at work," she said.

Gigi Hadid uses her modeling platform for good

If you thought Gigi Hadid's influence was limited to the high-octane world of fashion, think again. She's seemingly channeled her compassion to every facet of life, and philanthropy is no exception. Described by the Arab American Institute as "a fierce advocate for refugees," Gigi began working with UNICEF in 2018. "There is so much amazing culture and art, and people are so warm and welcoming — I truly enjoyed it," she told Vogue of her visit to a refugee community in Senegal, West Africa in late 2019. The same year, she also visited a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh and helped gather donations to aid the many children who live in temporary camps. "Be a voice for someone, support someone, encourage someone, tell someone how they inspire you," the model said at Variety's 2019 Power of Women event, per Variety.

More recently, Gigi leveraged her Instagram account to outspokenly support Ukraine amid the war with Russia. In a March 2022 post, she shared with her 70 million-plus followers that she would be donating her Fall 2022 fashion show earnings to Ukrainian war victims. She also pledged to support Palestinians with the same earnings. "Our eyes and hearts must be open to all human injustice. May we all see each other as brothers and sisters, beyond politics, beyond race, beyond religion," Gigi wrote. Her sister, Bella Hadid, followed suit and pledged to donate all her earnings from Fashion Week 2022 to organizations supporting Ukraine.

She almost became a reality star like her mother

Before she conquered the mainstream modeling industry, Gigi Hadid was a familiar face in her mom's reality show, "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills." To think that she might have chosen a career trajectory much like pal Kendall Jenner is interesting, to say the least. But according to former "The Hills" star Spencer Pratt, Gigi apparently almost became a reality star. In a 2016 tweet, Pratt alleged that he shot a pilot of her reality show before she shot to fame. This came after Gigi allegedly unfollowed him when he sent her a message about Jiu Jitsu training. He then shared a picture of his wife, Heidi Montag, and Gigi, claiming it was taken on the set of the series that would never see the light of day.

Gigi did have several cameos on "RHOBH," but away from the Bravo cameras, she was living a relatively normal life, enjoying school, sports, and all the simple joys of being a kid. "When people first started to get to know me, it was like, 'Oh, her mom was [Yolanda Hadid] on ['RHOBH'].' But that wasn't my life or a part of my growing up," she told InStyle in February 2022. Indeed, Gigi was in high school when her mom's reality show career began, with the younger model noting, "It was weird for me. I would come home from school, and there would be production trucks outside." 

As open and social as she is, it sounds like reality TV was not Gigi Hadid's cup of tea.

Gigi Hadid wanted to become a criminal psychologist

Gigi Hadid and criminal psychologist in one sentence sounds like an amazing casting of a film bound to be a blockbuster, but in actuality, that is what the model aspired to be once upon a time. If she were to retire from modeling and choose another career, she once said (via Harper's Bazaar), "I would go back to school. I studied criminal psychology for two years so I'd carry on with that." However, the star — who was studying at The New School in New York City when she signed with IMG Models — added, "Although I'm so intrigued by that field of work, I think that if I would have had a career in that I would've still ended up working in something creative instead."

That said, Hadid does find her modeling career fulfilling. Carine Roitfeld, former model and editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris, once asked Hadid if her job makes her happy amid a shoot. Although the young model had been crying the night before and was going through a breakup with her former partner, Cody Simpson, she said she was indeed happy, per Vogue

"That conversation reminded me that you should only do whatever you love and I should be in fashion as long as it makes me happy, which will be a very, very long time," Hadid told the outlet. "But it's a good reminder that anyone should only do anything that makes them happy."

This model has an athletic side

It is no secret that Gigi Hadid loves riding horses. She basically grew up on a ranch alongside sister Bella Hadid, who also loves horseback riding. In fact, being an Olympic horseback rider was one of Gigi's many ambitions when she was young — and so was being an Olympic volleyball player. "When I think of my childhood, I think of the crazy, ecstatic volleyball player," Gigi shared in an InStyle cover story. "I was that loud voice. I loved sports, I loved being on a team, I loved school and my friends. That's what comes naturally to me." The only reason why she gave up playing volleyball was because she decided to go to college in New York City, and The Big Apple is not exactly famous for its sports programs.

Because she played so much volleyball growing up, Gigi had what she's called her "volleyball body" when she first started out her modeling job, and sadly, some would tell her that her body was not right for the runway. "It was a body that I loved. I knew how hard I worked to have those muscles, to be curved in those places — I kind of miss it now," she told i-D in 2020. Designers would apparently often try to cover most of her athletic body during shows, with the model noting, "At the time, people were hard on me."

Luckily, Gigi Hadid didn't let the mean comments get to her — and hey, look at her career now.

Her single Instagram Story changed someone's life

Imagine you woke up one day and suddenly, you are famous. That's essentially what happened to model Nanga Awasum in July 2021, who was casually walking around New York City when one Gigi Hadid took notice of her outfit. She liked Awasum's style so much that she took a picture of her from the back and shared it on her Instagram Stories. "Shoutout to my NYC inspiration of the day: this queen," she captioned the shot in part (via E! News). 

For her part, Awasum had no idea she was going viral on Twitter due to Hadid gushing about her fashion sense, but when she found out, she posted her own picture giving a glimpse at her outfit from the front, shared side-by-side with Hadid's snap. "It's the way @GiGiHadid would have changed my entire life if I was only facing the right way," she tweeted. Hadid wasted no time to respond to Awasum's tweet, writing in part, "You were facing the right way exactly where you were headed!"

In a somewhat surprising twist, it turns out that Awasum was not a big fan of her look that day. "I woke up that morning and I threw on this outfit and I really, really didn't like the outfit at all, but I had 30 minutes to get to work and I had to get on set," she told E! News, explaining that she found out about her unexpected viral fame while shopping for a new outfit. And just like that, modeling opportunities came knocking on her doorway.

Gigi Hadid's skincare routine hasn't changed much in years

Gigi Hadid's cherubic face is rarely seen without a glow. She may have been blessed with great genes, but a consistent skincare routine has helped her maintain skin vitality. A model of her caliber can afford pretty much all of the expensive skincare in the world, but Hadid likes to stick to what she knows, considering she once told Teen Vogue that she still uses skincare products that kept her skin healthy during her high school days: "I just keep it simple. I feel like if you start using 30 products on your face, the second you don't have those 30 products, your skin will need it. And I feel like just keeping your skin clean and being good to it is enough."

Hadid is a big fan of drugstore skincare products because they are affordable. (Could she be more relatable?!) When she was pregnant with her daughter, Khai, she leveled up to using organic products, but once she was born, Hadid went back to using the products she has trusted since she was a teen. Good products, combined with a religious skin care routine that involves not wearing makeup when she does not have to, have clearly paid off well for Hadid, and she even sometimes uses toothpaste to dry her zits out — a little trick her mom taught her. "I might get in trouble for saying that, but that's what I do," Hadid said while shooting a skincare video for Vogue in 2021.

Body shamers won't shake Gigi Hadid's love of food

If you thought Gigi Hadid could not be more relatable, we are happy to tell you that you are mistaken. The model has a passion for all things food and doesn't advocate extreme dieting, but rather working out and mixing nutritional and well-balanced meals with her go-to snacks. In addition to chips, salami, and sugar-loaded treats, carbs do not scare Hadid, who is also a big fan of bread. "If I don't have milk and bread and eggs; then, I can't deal," she said during a chat with SELF. When she's not working, she is cooking something up in the kitchen, explaining, "Cooking and art is what grounds me. It's stripping it all back down to the simple things that makes me happy."

Unfortunately, not everyone appreciates the foodie in Hadid, and she's been body-shamed by those who have considered her to either not be skinny enough or too thin at different points in her career, per Harper's Bazaar. Even her mother famously urged her not to eat or train too much for volleyball in the past. Ignoring all the noise, Hadid has encouraged her fans to embrace their bodies. 

"It's our job as actors and/or models to be in shape," Hadid explained to SELF as to why young people should not compare themselves to stars. "We have access to gyms and trainers and healthy food. And then on top of that, 99.9 percent of the time the images are Photoshopped."