BY: MARIAH ESPADA
Model Gigi Hadid made headlines last week when she was harassed by a stranger during Milan Fashion Week. The "prankster" that decided to physically lift Hadid was identified as Vitalii Sediuk who later released a statement defending his actions:
"While I consider Gigi Hadid beautiful, she and her friend Kendall Jenner, have nothing to do with high fashion. By doing this I encourage [the] fashion industry to put true talents on the runway and Vogue covers instead of well-connected cute girls from Instagram. You can call it a manifest or a protest."
Unlike Sediuk, I look at Hadid, Jenner and the new generation of top models as badass superheros who use Instagram as a powerful branding tool.
Hadid is a living, breathing example that social media can operate outside the rules of conventionalism. With over 25 million followers, the 21-year-old has created a household name for herself on the internet and in print, snagging many Vogue covers throughout her career so far.
Some fashion industry elites still argue that Hadid is just a close friend of the Kardashians and not a true supermodel. Original supermodel Stephanie Seymour believes this generation of media mogul models are simply "b-----s of the moment."
Hadid's claim to fame is not based solely on her friendship with the Kardashian-Jenners. While being surrounded by social media royalty may have helped Hadid's Instagram follower count, it also made it that much more difficult for her to be taken seriously in the world of high fashion. Does Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue, really care if Hadid has a massive following of Jenner-lip enthusiasts on Snapchat? I think not.
Questioning Hadid's quick rise to the top in the modeling world is valid, but it has less to do with her Kardashian gal pals and more to do with her earlier life. Her modeling career began when she was discovered by Guess's Paul Marciano at the age of two. Yes, Gigi was still in diapers when she first began shooting for worldwide campaigns.
Although the Kardashians may have not been involved in her early career, she did indeed still benefit from her parent's connections, especially her mother Yolanda Hadid, a former Ford model. In 2011, after taking a break from modeling to concentrate on living a "normal" life, Hadid signed to IMG Models, one of the top modeling agencies in the world.
In the short five years that Hadid has taken on modeling full time, she has created a impressive portfolio filled with the top names in fashion: Chanel, Michael Kors, Tom Ford, Tommy Hilfiger, Balmain, Jeremy Scott, DVF, Versace and Dolce & Gabbana to name a few. More impressively, she has 10 Vogue covers under her belt, including the coveted U.S. September issue. Unfortunately, Hadid's massive social media following has oftentimes overshadowed the actual credibility and experience she has within the field.
Sure, Hadid is no Gisele BÃ¼ndchen, and she may have had help along the way, but when we look at her large social media following alongside her massive success in the elite world of fashion, it's clear that she deserves her title as one of top faces in the new wave of supermodels.