Every supermodel has her signature face, and Bella Hadid is no exception. Since breaking into the modeling industry, the 21-year-old has been known for her high-cheekbones, pursed-lips gaze. And though the look has made her bank as a model, Bella isn’t happy with the way that it’s morphed the public’s perception of her—specifically, into thinking that she’s “mean” or a “bitch.”
In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Bella opened up to her older sister, Gigi Hadid, about being called “mean” on her social media because she’s rarely seen smiling. The sisters landed on the topic when Gigi asked Bella about the thing that fans would be surprised to learn about her. “That I never go a day without smiling,” Bella said.
The younger Hadid sister went on to explain that photographers often ask her to look emotionless, which is why she’s often not smiling in professional photos. “People always say I have the same facial expressions,” Bella said. “But what they don’t realize is that for a long time I looked that way because photographers on set would direct me to look ‘bored’ or ‘very nonchalant.’ But it isn’t necessarily the way I really am. You’ve known me, of course, my whole life. And ever since I was a baby, I was always smiling.”
But that doesn’t mean that comments don’t hurt. Bella went on to to open up about how the public’s perception of her affected her for a very long time, especially when people would judge her based on a few pictures. “For a while I fought a lot of battles—with myself, with people online—and it brought me down,” Bella said. “When people would say, ‘Oh, she’s so mean,’ I wanted to say, ‘Maybe I’ve just had a bad day! Or maybe I’ve just been crying.’ You never know what people are going through.”
Bella also addressed the fact that a lot of her paparazzi photos also show her not smiling. She suggested the stress of the paparazzi causes her to withdraw in herself, which makes it hard for her to smile authentically. “They see such a small piece of our lives, like paparazzi photos of us leaving the house. You know how awkward that is? To walk out of your own home and have 40 people waiting outside. And then you need to smile at random strangers,” Bella said.
Gigi agreed, noting that if celebrities don’t smile at the paparazzi, they’re often labeled as “bitches. “And if you don’t [smile], they’re like, ‘Oh, she looks like a bitch today,'” Gigi said. The older Hadid sister then went on to compliment Bella for being so kind to fans and the people that she works with, which she considered as evidence that Bella isn’t as mean as the public see her to be.
“That goes back to how we were raised,” Bella said. “As you know, our mom always taught us that you should treat everyone the same, whether it’s the president or the person working under you. Everyone’s time is important. That’s why I always stop for fans. They could be at home with their families, but they’re not: They’re standing outside our hotel in the cold just to give us a hug. That means something!”
Bella has a point. Pictures only offer a snapshot into someone’s life and personality, so to judge someone based on a moment in time is ludicrous. Just because Bella has made what might call a “bitch face” her signature look, doesn’t mean that she’s mean in real life. We hope haters hear Bella’s words and stop prejudging her.