When the spring/summer 2022 season came and went without any sign of one of fashion’s top models, Bella Hadid, there were some murmurs. It was unclear why, someone at the top of her career would seemingly disappear without a trace during one of the fashion industry’s most important times of the year. Since then, Hadid has opened up more about her mental health struggles, using social media as a view into her mind and at her perpetually tear-stroked face. And now, not long after a successful return to the runway during the most recent fashion month, Hadid is opening up more about how her career has taken a toll on her mental health, and why she was MIA last September.
Vogue’s April cover story on Hadid paints her as an extremely hard working, respected model. “In seven years I never missed a job, canceled a job, was late to a job,” Hadid says in the piece. “No one can ever say that I don’t work my ass off.” The sentiment is confirmed, not only by Hadid’s older sister, Gigi, but by Michael Kors as well, though it soon becomes clear that this hard-working attitude has taken a toll on Hadid through the years.
“For three years while I was working, I would wake up every morning hysterical, in tears, alone,” Hadid said, recalling her tendency to keep her struggle a secret. She explained she would cry in a room alone at lunch before returning home to “whatever random little hotel” she was staying at, cry some more, and then wake up for another round of the same.
Of course, that cycle is not sustainable, and in January 2021, the model hit a wall. “I became manic,” she said. “I bleached my hair. I looked like a troll doll. Then I dyed it—it looked like a sunrise. That should have been the first sign.” The episode led her to spend two and a half weeks at a treatment center in Tennessee. She started taking meds and engaging in talk therapy, both of which helped her to feel better, but nine months later, in September 2021, she once again found herself in a dark space.
According to the article, Hadid woke up on the first day of New York Fashion week, having worked 15 days straight. With a day of eight fittings and three shows ahead of her, she felt unable to meet the task. So, for the first time, she opted out.
“I don’t have FOMO for parties or going out,” she said. “I have FOMO for work.” Because of that, Hadid deleted social media so she didn’t have to witness what she was missing. “If I say no to something and someone else does it, that’s hard for me. I hate it.” Instead, Hadid went to Pennsylvania, where her family has a farm, and she spent the time relaxing and getting into a daily routine. “When you are forced to be perfect every day, in every picture, you start to look at yourself and need to see perfection at all times, and it’s just not possible,” she said. “That month off was really helpful for me.”
This season, Hadid was ubiquitous on the runway, walking in numerous shows in New York, London, Paris, and Milan. It’s possible she was driven by a larger purpose (she donated all of her earnings for the month to organizations providing aide to Ukranians and Palestinians), or she was supported by her boyfriend, Marc Kalman, who stood by her side throughout the jobs. Through trial and tribulation, Hadid has found a way to make sure her “mental state stays above water.” And with that, she was able to put another fashion season in the books.