In an interview i-D published, Gigi Hadid said her light features have caused her to grapple with questions about her mixed-race identity. The 26-year-old supermodel was raised by her father, Mohamed Hadid, who is Palestinian, and her mother, Yolanda Hadid, who is Dutch. While Hadid said she identifies equally with both sides, she said she’s spent time “trying to figure out” where she fits in.
“In certain situations, I feel – or I’m made to feel – that I’m too white to stand up for part of my Arab heritage,” she told the outlet. Hadid recalled asking herself: “Is what I am, or what I have, enough to do what I feel is right? 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?”
Conversations regarding race and identity have become commonplace between the model and her boyfriend, Zayn Malik, who has a mother of English-Irish descent and a Pakistani father. “We think about it and talk about it a lot as partners and it’s something that’s really important to us, but it’s also something that we first experienced ourselves,” Hadid said.
She continued, “We are that first generation of those mixed races, and then that comes with that first generational experience of being like, ‘Oh damn, I’m the bridge!’ “The couple has been in an on-again, off-again relationship since 2015. And after welcoming their first child, Khai, together in September 2020, the couple began considering how to handle topics like race, ethnicity, and religion within their family.
Hadid’s hope is that Khai will be an active part of their discussions and find her own identity without any external pressure.
“I think that Khai will grow up feeling out the way that she can or wants to be a bridge for her different ethnicities. But I think that it will be nice to be able to have those conversations, and see where she comes from [with] it, without us putting that onto her,” Hadid said.
She added, “What comes from her is what I’m most excited about, and being able to add to that or answer her questions, you know?”
Earlier this year, Hadid told Vogue that she and Malik plan to expose Khai to multiple faiths, taking “different pieces” of “different religions.” “I think that just giving your child the opportunity to explore different interests is such a beautiful thing,” she said then.