The 21-year-old supermodel is speaking out in the latest issue of Lena Dunham's Lenny Letter about a scary incident last Thursday, when she defended herself after a man wrapped his arms around her waist and lifted her into the air as she was walking to her car in Milan, Italy. Hadid elbowed the man in the face and ran after him, a bold move that garnered plenty of praise.
"Honestly, I felt I was in danger, and I had every right to react the way I did," Gigi writes. "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."
"Practicing self-defense is important so that when you’re in the moment, reacting from muscle memory comes more naturally to you than freezing up," she adds. "Confidence in your own ability to defend yourself comes with educating yourself about it, and is a massive advantage when in an unsafe situation."
Gigi says her own muscle memory -- which allowed her to quickly react to the situation -- comes from her days playing volleyball and boxing. The model also credits her mother, former Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Yolanda Hadid, for teaching her the power of relying on her instincts.
"It just came out when he grabbed me -- it wasn't a choice," she explains. "I do have that fighter in me.”
However, Gigi reveals she was again outraged following the incident after reading an article about the situation.
"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. The supermodel angrily hit an unknown man before running to her car.' That's when I really got pissed," Hadid shares. "First of all, it was a woman who wrote the story with that headline. 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?"
Gigi has since received plenty of social media support, but insists that her actions that day aren't something to be praised.
"It sounds cliché to say it, but in the moment, it wasn't heroic to me. It was just what I had to do," she explains. "It’s very touching to me that people see it that way. 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."
"Bravo Gigi for defending yourself and standing up for what is rightfully yours, your mind, body and soul should not be touched by anyone unless you want to… #GirlPower #Boundaries #Defense #BoxingSkills @gothamgym," Yolanda captioned a pic of Gigi elbowing her attacker.