“The way yolanda would constantly describe gigi as her ‘perfect ralph lauren all american girl’ who got more of her Dutch genes than their dad’s Palestinian genes highlights how entrenched beauty standards are with whiteness and eurocentric features.”
Bella Hadid has opened up about feeling regret over erasing her ancestral features, revealing that she had rhinoplasty surgery at the age of 14.
The supermodel, now 25, reflected on her insecurities in an extremely candid interview with Vogue US on Tuesday, marking the first time she’s publicly spoken about getting a nose job.
“I wish I had kept the nose of my ancestors,” she said, referring to her dad Mohamed Hadid’s Palestinian descent. “I think I would have grown into it.” The interviewer noted that Bella was 14 when she had the surgery and that it’s a “decision she regrets.”
Bella went on to reveal that her insecurities stemmed from feeling like “the uglier sister” in comparison to Gigi Hadid, her elder sibling by a year, who’s also a world-famous runway model. The two have long faced side-by-side comparisons in spite of their distinctive appearances.
“I was the uglier sister. I was the brunette. I wasn’t as cool as Gigi, not as outgoing,” Bella said. “That’s really what people said about me. And unfortunately when you get told things so many times, you do just believe it.”
As soon as the interview was published, Bella’s comments garnered widespread sympathy from concerned fans, who noted that she’d felt pressured to conform to “Eurocentric beauty standards” at such a young age.
“bella hadid saying she wished she kept the nose of her ancestors makes me really sad. we’re out here being conditioned from the dawn of colonization to think that eurocentric features are the pinnacle of beauty & only later do we become conscious of this (if ever),” one user tweeted.
“a lot of us will have undergone cosmetic surgery to “fix” our faces according to how we think it looks attractive (which is how society would deem it attractive) — not realizing that in the process we’re erasing our ancestors and our cultures,” they added.
Another user noted that Bella’s nose before surgery was strikingly similar to that of her grandfather’s, according to a photo shared by the model of him as a child in Palestine.
“I found it kind of sad how [Bella’s] nose surgery sort of wiped one visual trace of her ancestry. as turns out, she feels similarly, and regrets it,” they tweeted.
On the whole, fans seemed empathetic over Bella seemingly erasing a feature representative of her Arab side with the hopes of adhering to a Eurocentric definition of beauty — something that, unfortunately, isn’t uncommon in the experience of ethnic people.
But as the conversation evolved online, several users went on to question the influence of Bella and Gigi’s mom, Yolanda Hadid.
If you didn’t know, Yolanda is a reality star and former renowned supermodel of Dutch descent, who was discovered by Eileen Ford of Ford Models as a teenager. She was married to Bella and Gigi’s dad, Mohamed, from 1994 to 2000.
Yolanda has notoriously spent years obsessing over her daughters’ body image, with her fixation on virtually everything — from what they ate to how they dressed to what sports they played — documented across three seasons of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
And Yolanda has long been accused of perpetuating Eurocentric beauty standards, by consistently glorifying Gigi’s blonde hair and blue eyes, while often describing her as an “all-American girl.”
During an episode of Real Housewives that aired in Season 5, the matriarch discussed the sisters’ distinctly different looks, referring to them as “the black swan and the white swan.”
“They are the black swan and the white swan, and obviously as sisters that close in age, there’s always going to be competition, but Bella’s going to do it her way,” Yolanda said, while discussing Bella’s first steps into modeling.
Touching on the “competitive business” of the industry, she said: “When somebody’s looking for a brunette with blue eyes, Gigi’s not gonna get the job. If they are looking for an all-American girl, they’re not going to hire Bella.”
She echoed this sentiment in an interview with W Magazine published four years later, saying the sisters are “so different,” while once again describing Gigi as “the all-American” and referring to Bella as “darker and exotic.”
Yolanda said: “In Gigi and Bella’s case, they’re so different, especially with their looks. In the industry, if someone’s looking for, you know, the all-American, blonde, blue eyes, they’re not gonna book Bella, and if they’re looking for someone darker and exotic, they’re not gonna book Gigi.”
And over the course of RHOBH, fans have called Yolanda out for seemingly favoring Gigi’s features over Bella’s, with a huge part of the show depicting how she had long encouraged Gigi to pursue a career as a model.
With all this in mind, fans were quick to point out that Bella’s insecurities could have been influenced by her mom’s obsession with the “all-American” image of beauty.
One user called Yolanda out for “pushing eurocentric beauty standards onto their children and attempting to erase their middle eastern features,” adding that Mohamed was seemingly at fault too, as Bella having the nose job at 14 would have required full parental consent.
“[Yolanda has] always tried to make those girls look as white and eurocentric as possible,” wrote another, “especially bella, after watching real housewives i really think she favoured gigi bc her features were closer to what yolanda wanted.”
Another Twitter user echoed, “i feel like yolanda pressured her into feeling like she needed a eurocentric nose bc she was constantly comparing bella to gigi.”
Many went on to say it’s not uncommon for young adolescents especially to feel insecure about the way they look, with 14 being an incredibly vulnerable age.
“I honestly feel so sad for bella bc she always talks abt how growing up she always felt like a black sheep/outsider in her family while also feeling bad abt herself and for yolanda to basically confirm her thoughts by letting her get a nose job at 14 is so horrible,” one person tweeted. “like every 14yo child is gonna be insecure no matter what.”
Before long, Yolanda’s apparent dismissal of Bella’s Middle Eastern features reminded some fans of her past comments made about fearing that Gigi looked “Chinese” with a certain makeup look. Back in Season 3 of Real Housewives, the matriarch told a beauty artist to “round Gig’s eyes a bit on the side,” because she felt that the current style “[made] her look Chinese.”
Recalling the remark now, one user tweeted: “of course Yolanda had her nose changed at 14, that woman doesn’t like ‘ethnic’ features on her children (we all saw her say she [doesn’t] want Gigi looking ‘too Chinese.’ It’s such a shame too because Bella’s Palestinian features were beautiful & she was made to be more Eurocentric.”
Elsewhere in the Vogue interview, Bella delved further into her insecurities, revealing that she dealt with anorexia and awful “body-image issues” in the past. Noting that she has a healthy relationship with food today, the model admitted she can still “barely look in the mirror” as a result.
“I always ask myself, how did a girl with incredible insecurities, anxiety, depression, body-image issues, eating issues, who hates to be touched, who has intense social anxiety — what was I doing getting into this business?” she said.
“But over the years I became a good actress. I put on a very smiley face, or a very strong face. I always felt like I had something to prove,” she added.
Bella went on, “I was on this calorie-counting app, which was like the devil to me. I’d pack my little lunch with my three raspberries, my celery stick. I was just trying, I realize now, to feel in control of myself when I felt so out of control of everything else.”
Once again, while fans tweeted in support of Bella, many brought Yolanda’s influence into question, given that she infamously monitored her daughters’ diets for years while consistently obsessing over their bodies.
In an old episode of Real Housewives, Yolanda shamed Gigi for eating a slice of cake at her own graduation party, reminding her that she needed to stay “on the skinny side.” In another, she advised her daughter to “have a couple of almonds” when Gigi called her in a distressed state and said she felt “really weak.”
“yolanda hadid didn’t want gigi eating from her own bday cake but approved and signed a parental permission for her 14yo daughter’s nose job,” one user tweeted.
“so yolanda allowed plastic surgery at 14 but wouldnt allow them to eat more than 3 almonds??” another wrote.